What effects does stress have on the skin? And what can you do to combat it? Newby Hands explains how to boost your skin’s feel-good factor all year round.
There are many reasons why summer skin should not look good (salt water, sun, chlorine) but invariably it does. In part, it’s down to us using more skincare, more often (re-applying sunscreen, using hydrating masks and serums) but ultimately, it’s because we’re relaxed, rested and less stressed – and that makers a world of difference to our skin. So, what can you do to keep your skin’s feel-good factor all year round? Discover your new SPF – a.k.a stress protections factor…
How does stress effect skin?
“The skin isn’t a survival organ (like the heart or brain), so in times of stress, the body’s resources are redirected”, explains Kristen Robinson, Senior Director of New Product Development for Murad. “The knock-on effect is the degradation of the skin’s barrier, so moisture gets out and external aggressors get in (making skin reactive). The body also releases the stress hormone cortisol, and this in turn breaks down the skin’s elastin and collagen and reduces the synthesis of hyaluronic acid”. In a study run with Unilever, people with higher levels of stress were also shown to have a higher perceived age, so, in simple terms, stress makes us look older.
How to right the wrongs
While it’s often hard to control internal stress, we can take charge of how we look after our skin – and even simple changes can make a difference. Protecting and building the skin’s barrier is key, so don’t over-cleanse (you end up “cleaning away” the barrier along with the dirt), and do limit your use of peels. “A gentle peel once or twice a week is perfect, your skin just doesn’t need more”, says aesthetician Angela Caglia. However, the opposite can be said for anything that hydrates the skin, “Dehydration is the main cause of dull skin and a lack of luminosity”, says Robinson Layering up HA serum, makes and sheet masks will make a big difference to hydration levels, as will loading up on antioxidants to neutralize the havoc wreaked by external (UV pollution) and internal (stress) aggressors. “Use them daily and, after a few days, you build up “reservoir” of protection in your skin”, explains Dr Michaels Prager.
The cream vs serum myth
In recent years, thw switch from using a classic face cream to serums has actually had a negative effect on our skin. “I see women everywhere with dry skin”, says aesthetician Mimi Luzon, who travels between the U.S. and Europe to see clients. “You can layer up your serums, but then you need to use a cream on top, especially at night”. Even better, if it suits your skin, add a drop or two of face oil at night to your cram – it leaves skin super-soft, supple and healthy-looking in the morning.