How Does Stress Affect Your Skin — and Your Confidence?
What do do about the crazy vicious cycle of stress – breakout – stress!
-April Daniels Hussar, sponsored by Simple Skincare
Everyone’s skin is affected by their physical and mental well-being, but for those of us with sensitive skin, it can be even more dramatic. I’m talking about everything from the tell-tale blush (so everyone within 1,000 feet can tell you’re embarrassed or nervous) to the stress-induced zit right before a big event. But did you ever wonder if it’s just your imagination that how you feel affects your skin?
According to ScienceDaily.com, “When a person becomes stressed, the level of the body’s stress hormone (cortisol) rises. This in turn causes an increase in oil production, which can lead to oily skin, breakouts and other related skin problems.”
The article goes on to note: “A study in the January 2001 issue of the Archives of Dermatology found that stress has a negative effect on the barrier function of the skin, resulting in water loss that inhibits the skin’s ability to repair itself after an injury.”
In other words — it’s NOT IN YOUR HEAD! How you feel really can physically affect your skin.
Amy J. Derick, M.D., member of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, told me that she sees patients who suffer from skin conditions (e.g. breakouts or eczema) that are flared by stress. “One theory is that stress causes patients to pick/itch their skin more frequently,” she says. “This type of picking/scratching may release endorphins that improve mood.”
That’s so me! I pick my lips — it’s a horrible habit. And I have been known to pick at blemishes too. So what you’re doing to make yourself feel better is actually in the long run making you feel worse, because when your skin is going crazy, that, in turn, can affect your confidence, am I right? It can turn into a vicious cycle — You feel stressed … you break out … you pick and poke … it gets worse … your poked-at blemish stresses you out … and so on and so forth.
Dr. Derick adds, “In addition to the stress of having appearance-related concerns, women sometimes feel out of control if they cannot keep their skin clear.”
So. How you feel affects your skin — and how your skin looks affects how you feel!
What’s a girl to do?
First of all, minimizing your stress is important not just for your skin’s sake, but for your OWN sake. Take time during the day to notice if you’re feeling particularly anxious or stressed out, and do something about it — go for a quick walk outside, call a friend, take a 5-minute meditation break at your desk.
Next — take care of your skin. Be gentle with it. Use products on it that make it feel and look good, and don’t exacerbate any issues you might have. Read my last article to find out if you have sensitive skin and how best to take care of it, but my go-to products are from the Simple Skincare range of products. It’s the UK’s No. 1 Facial Skincare brand and is specifically for those with sensitive skin. I really like it.
When / if you do break out, Dr. Derick says, “The most important thing is not to pick or manipulate the skin.” Got that? Hands off!
“This might temporarily make things better,” she says, “but it usually takes a lot longer for the spots to heal if they are scratched.” Dr. Derick also recommends seeking help from a board-certified dermatologist if you have a skin issue you can resolve that’s really making you unhappy.
Finally, keep in mind: everyone — and I mean EVERYONE — breaks out or has bad skin days. The main person who notices and cares about how your skin looks? YOU! I once almost missed a trip to Shakespeare’s birthplace because I was so embarrassed about a cold sore I got while studying abroad in England. Crazy talk!
Take care of your skin, treat yourself well, but don’t let it rule your life if you do have a bad skin day. Nobody else will notice is as much as you do!
FTC Full Disclosure: April Daniels Hussar is BettyConfidential’s Executive Editor and in that role she is a brand ambassador for Simple® Skincare. The views and opinions in this post are her own; visit www.facebook.com/SimpleSkincare to share your story on sensitive skin.