HOW STRESS, SLEEP & RESILIENCE AFFECT SKIN
Consultant Psychodermatologist Dr. Ahmed on why she’s trying to rid us of ‘skin guilt’.
Creating environments that build positivity using scents, music and colours.
Finding moments of joy in routines like a face massage, or working on more positive self-dialogue and fostering gratitude.
Incorporating realistic changes into their day that will improve their skin health. Restorative sleep routines, mindfulness, hydration - and things like gentle face massage that both improve circulation and relaxation.
“Stress can make skin more greasy because the stress hormone cortisol drives the production of oil in your skin, which is why I sometimes hear from patients that they get breakouts when they’re stressed.”
“Stress can affect production of hyaluronic acid, leading to dehydration and can affect skin ageing.”
Long-term stress that can send the body into a permanent ‘stress-response’ state, aggravating existing skin problems through a poor natural immune response and inflammation. This can alter your production and breakdown of collagen, proteoglycans and elastin, all of which are part of the skin’s building blocks. Loss of these results in loss of elasticity and firmness, thus predisposing us to lines, wrinkles, increased pigmentation and dull skin. Stress can affect production of hyaluronic acid, leading to dehydration and can affect skin ageing through cell DNA damage and poor repair.
“People aren’t always great at spotting their own stress.”
“Maybe your skin isn't as elastic as it was when you were 15. But this is all normal.’”
“Skincare sales in this area so often play on unrealistic expectations of ageing.”
“I try to avoid language that makes people feel bad. I try not to say ‘anti-ageing’ or ‘normal’ skin.”
WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO TO LOOK AFTER THE SKIN THEY’VE GOT? CAN YOU SHARE FIVE EASY TIPS?
1. WEAR SUNSCREEN
Everyone can look after their skin a lot better than they probably are. Anyone, any age, should be using high factor sunscreen during the day, even in winter. This can help protect skin against harmful UV rays that are responsible for changes like fine lines, wrinkles, loss of collagen, pigmentation spots.
Cleanse your face because it's good to get the dirt and grime off in the morning and in the evening if you've been out all day. It can also be a really positive routine to enjoy, that helps lower cortisol before bed.
3. USE ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants help protect the skin from environmental aggressors. Our skin is battling cell damage created by free radicals like increased pollution, so we need antioxidants more than ever. Also, sunscreens alone don't block all of the free radicals generated by UV exposure. UV filters can't provide protection from damaging infrared radiation. For protection against the full range of environmental aggressors, topical antioxidants used in conjunction with a daily sunscreen will help build the skin's resilience.
4. ADAPT YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Building in some level of positive activity during the day, whatever that is. A walk, mindfulness session, exercise, seeing a friend. I recommend doing one positive thing every day that's not related to the things that cause you stress.
5. BUILD YOUR SELF LOVE ROUTINE
People are really harsh on themselves. Negative self-talk is a huge stress trigger. When you're putting your products on, I want you to enjoy the smell and the feel of it. Or the little face massage that goes along with it. If your routines are built on fear, when you're putting products on, all you're thinking is ‘was this wrinkle there yesterday?’ That’s going to raise your cortisol levels.