The skin is the largest organ of our body, and though we know a lot about what our face needs from us to stay healthy, youthful, and radiant there’s always more to learn. One gap in our, admittedly vast, knowledge has everything to do with the trickiest part of us. Did you know that your mind could affect your face as much as your skincare routine? It’s true! Our emotions do affect our skin.
Sun, Wind, and Rain
We all know about the dangers of too much sun and wind on our faces. That’s why we invest in sun-screens, vitamin-infused serums, and anti-oxidant packed moisturisers. As it so happens, however, recent research has found that stress, depression, anxiety, and even joy can affect your skin just as much as your environment.
This isn’t a total surprise; we know that embarrassment makes us blush, of course, and that crying inflames our skin, but there’s so much more to it than that! In fact, scientists have found that it’s very individual; the same emotion can trigger different reactions in each person’s skin.
The one constant, however, is that negative emotions affect our skin negatively. In fact, the connection between mind and skin is so strong that a new field of study has been born: get ready to hear all about ‘psychodermatology’ in the near future.
The Stress Mess
In 2014, a group of researchers found, unsurprisingly, that stress, sadness, and anger can negatively affect the quality and appearance of our skin. What is surprising is that their research suggests that these changes are caused by mental and hormonal factors as much as the physical symptoms of these emotions.
Stress, for example, causes a flood of hormones to overwhelm our bodies and cause inflammation in our nerves, decreased blood flow to the skin, and slows our skins ability to repair itself. The results? Acne, rosacea, psoriasis, dryness, or dull, lifeless skin.
So, it turns out that “washed out” isn’t just a figure of speech; stress really can take all the colour and vivacity from your skin. But it doesn’t end there…
Road Rage and the Monday Blues
According to recent research pretty much any negative emotion can have a big impact on the look, feel, and health of your skin. Anger, for example, releases many of the same hormones and effects as stress, but a study published in “Brain, Behavior, Immunity” found that angry people healed more slowly and were prone to signs of premature ageing. In fact, people who reported more frequent and intense anger had a cell turnover four times slower than their chilled-out counterparts.
In layman’s terms? The angrier you are, the older and more drained you look because your body isn’t replacing cells or producing collagen as quickly.
With this in mind, it probably won’t shock you to learn that prolonged sadness, or clinical depression, wreaks havoc on the skin. The lack of balance in your hormones that causes sadness, anhedonia, and general lethargy also cause those puffy eyes and inflamed veins. Plus, the repeated frowning is likely to cause wrinkles (no shock there).
In the course of their study, however, the “Journal of Psychiatric Research” found out something remarkable. Not only can your emotions affect your face, but your face can change your emotions too. They found that 46% of the depressed people they studied reported a drop in their symptoms six weeks after being injected with Botox.
This suggests that frowning can cause lowered mood and worsen the symptoms of depression.
Forewarned, Forearmed, and Fully Fabulous!
So, what does all of this mean for all of us skin conscious individuals?
Well, no matter the cause there are some skin conditions that require medical intervention. For example, no amount of positive vibes will clear up cystic acne, you need antibiotics for that. Likewise, skin issues caused by clinical depression require more than a good moisturiser. Of course, peace, serenity, and a tub of Nivea Q10 can’t hurt!
For all non-chronic skin ailments, however, experts are recommending meditation, plenty of sleep, and mindfulness to promote bright eyes, smooth cheeks, and a consistent complexion. There’s even science to back it up.
Mindfulness and meditation reduce stress, aid in anxiety and anger control, and helps you to identify what daily triggers set you off. In the short-term, they make you feel better and prevent immediate skin reactions. In the long-term, regular meditation can keep inflammation and puffiness to a low. Not only this, but effective practice will improve your skins ability to heal and replenish lost cells. All of that adds up to a younger, more vibrant, healthier-looking you (with a brand new sense of Zen to match).
Your Skin Saving Stress Routine
No matter how Zen you become, there will always be days or weeks that mess with your calm. No-one can guarantee you a stress-free week, but we have a four-step stress routine that will save your skin from the worst of the damage.
1. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Sleep is super important to your mental, emotional, and physical health. Not only will a regular sleep routine give your skin time to heal, but it will actually help you to control stress as well (win-win!).
2. Start and end the day with water. Dehydration only increases the effects of stress. Starting your day with water will wake you up and give you the right start and hydrating before bed will help you sleep.
3. Supplement your day. Adding some vitamin C, vitamin B, and magnesium supplements to your morning routine will replace some of what your body loses coping with stress.
4. Replace the screen. Blue light has a harsh effect on our sleep cycle and our skin, as can stress, so replacing your night time Twitter scroll with a short meditation, or ten minutes of reading will help you sleep and reduces your stress.
More than anything else, however, don’t become frustrated if you let stress, anger, or sadness get the better of you. We’re all only human – be kind to yourself, take deep breaths, and you’ll find your emotions, and your complexion, improve in no time!