Stress can have a big impact on the skin – triggering or aggravating sensitive skin symptoms. And with most reports and studies showing people are feeling increased stress levels this year caused by the pandemic, this Stress Awareness Month (April) will see more people searching for help to alleviate stressed out skin.
Camille Knowles, author and founder of sensitive skin brand The Beauty of Eczema™, explains how stress can have a dramatic impact on your skin and how a mind, body and soul approach can help to combat it.
“Chances are that you will have experienced some kind of sensitive skin issue over the past 12 months. It is easy to see how physical acts like hand washing, wearing masks and spending the winter indoors can impact your skin – but you may not have considered the factors that you can’t see like stress and anxiety which science shows can have an impact.
“When we are stressed our body produces excess cortisol (also known as the stress hormone). It is this hormone working beneath the surface that is responsible for redness, dryness, increased sensitivity, dullness and sagging. It can also increase the production of sebum which can lead to spots and breakouts.
“So how can you manage stress to overcome problem skin?
“I’m a huge advocate of taking a mind, body and soul approach to managing my own skincare, and this forms the basis of my ‘HOPE principles’ – a holistic way of dealing with skin issues which I developed to share with other Skin Warriors who have skin conditions and concerns. Within the HOPE principals are Home, Optimism, Purpose and Pampering, Eating well, Exercise and Ecotherapy.
“Many of these principles really come to the fore when it comes to stress. So whilst using the right skincare products will help to support the healing process and keep skin flare ups to a minimum, there are also a number of other things that you can do to keep those cortisol levels in check.
Stressed Out Skin – Step one – focus on sleep and self-care
“The amount of sleep that we get can directly impact levels of cortisol in the body. Too much cortisol puts our skin in a pro-inflammatory state leading to it looking sullen and puffy. What is more, sleep is a crucial time for repair and regeneration. During sleep our skin rebuilds collagen, repairs itself from UV exposure and the increased blood flow helps to reduce wrinkles and age spots. Several studies have suggested that between 11pm and 12am is the so called ‘golden hour’ – so make sure you get to bed in good time angels to benefit from the skin boosting benefits. Your skin will thank you and believe me you’ll see a difference!
“If you’re having trouble sleeping there are steps that you can take to get your body in the right mode for rest. Making sure that you take the time to wind down before bed every single night will help your body tune in to better sleep. I try to turn off my phones and stop screen time well in advance of bedtime as incorporating relaxation techniques like meditation and daily gratitude into my pre-bedtime routine which helps me to unwind and let go of the stresses of the day.
“The Beauty of Eczema™ Salty Soother bath salts, which have been created to pamper sensitive skin and relax your body and mind, are also a great pre-bedtime treat. With ingredients suitable for people with sensitive skin, they contain a blend of mineral-rich Pink Himalayan blush, Dead Sea and Epsom salts, and restoring oils to moisturise the skin.”
Stressed Out Skin – Step two – embrace the great outdoors
“As lockdown restrictions ease, stepping outside and getting more ‘ecotherapy’ is a great way to clear the mind and benefit the body – you could be surprised at the results. Nature really is a fantastic healer and there are a huge number of proven mental health benefits of spending time outside – gardening, exercising, meditating … even forest bathing! With Spring well and truly in the air, it is the perfect time to get outside for some much needed vitamin D and to give your endorphins a boost. Even better, go for a social distanced walk with a friend.
“Why not step away from your laptop for 30 minutes every lunchtime and go for a walk, run or spend some time pottering around your garden. Taking steps to reduce stress in this way every day could go a long way in helping to calm a busy mind.”
Stressed Out Skin – Step three – Declutter to de-stress
“The past 12 months have significantly blurred the boundaries between our home, leisure and professional lives. We use our homes for working, online socialising, working out, relaxing and so much more. There is no doubt that all of this will have taken its toll on our physical environment – creating mess and clutter which could be impacting our mental health.
“Spring is a great time to take a step back and evaluate what you really need and what can be thrown out. The physical act of decluttering and throwing things away really will help to give you a renewed sense of calm and more mental energy to deal with whatever comes your way.” Can you re-arrange a corner of your home and make a quiet relaxation space? A comfy chair where you can journal or move some furniture and make space for a yoga mat.
Stressed Out Skin – Step four – make sure your skincare regime is benefitting changes in your body
“If you have been suffering with sensitive and problem skin then it could be a good time to re-evaluate the products that you are using to make sure they contain the right ingredients to moisturise and pamper the skin.
“I created The Beauty of Eczema™ skincare range after experiencing chronic eczema my whole life – every ingredient has been researched and included because of its hydrating benefits. When you can see something working it will help to reduce the worry you may be feeling about any skin problems and this can help with the underlying stress.
“For dried out hands, body and face, my Calming Cream is one of my favourite products. It combines natural moisturising ingredients including natural butters, omega three and six and oat lipids, as well as the pre-biotic BioEcolia® which stimulates the development of beneficial skin flora. This hydration packed moisturiser has been carefully created to safeguard the skin’s protective barrier. Used daily it can help to restore your skin back to its best.”
“It is clear that there is no quick fix to overcoming stress and anxiety and the impact that it could be having on your skin. However, I firmly believe that the solution is the sum of many parts and making small, positive lifestyle changes, supplemented with the right skincare, can go a long way in easing dryness and sensitive skin issues.”