How does stress impact the skin?
Dr. Neera Nathan, a dermatologist and researcher, describes that stress is a two-way street between your brain and skin. A good example of this is when you feel nervous, and your skin starts to flush or sweat. This experience is called an acute, temporary stress response. Scientific studies indicate that both chronic and acute exposure to psychological stress, through long term exposure, can have long-lasting implications for the skin that extend beyond mere flushing. These can exert negative effects on overall skin wellness, as well as exacerbate several skin conditions. When you experience a
stressful situation, within the span of an hour, the body undergoes physiological changes in response to this stress. The release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, can result in the skin's blood vessels constricting, in turn reducing blood flow and oxygen supply to the skin as well as causing an increase in sebum (oil) production which can contribute to the development of acne and blemishes. Furthermore, the immune system may also become compromised during times of acute stress. This can make the skin more susceptible to infections and slower to heal from wounds or skin damage.
“As the skin sits between our internal and external environments, it’s vulnerable to the effects of both our internal (emotional) and external (environmental) stressors.”
Over the long term, chronic stress can have more profound and persistent effects on the skin. The continued release of stress hormones can disrupt the skin's natural balance and its ability to repair and regenerate. Collagen and elastin can be broken down at a higher rate under chronic stress and this can lead to the development of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.
Dermatologist, Dr Keira Barr, highlights that “when you understand how stress affects your body, you can more effectively incorporate mind-body practices to help reduce your stress and improve your physical, mental and emotional well-being.” Some evidence suggests that regular practice of meditation may lead to a decrease in overall stress hormone levels in individuals. Similarly, meditation and relaxation techniques have shown promise in improving symptoms of psoriasis.
Adopting healthy lifestyle habits, such as maintaining a well-balanced diet, getting adequate sleep and engaging in regular exercise, may also play a role in regulating stress hormones within the body which could have positive effects on the health of the skin.
As the skin sits between our internal and external environments, it’s vulnerable to the effects of both our internal (emotional) and external (environmental) stressors. While wellness practices are the most effective for managing internal stressors, we can help the skin to have an increased resilience to external stressors by fortifying its skin barrier and arming it with antioxidants. All our Emma Lewisham moisturisers are designed to aid in this protection against external stressors.