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September 02, 2020
Everyone’s mood and life have been going on a roller-coaster the past year, and unfortunately, your mood directly affects your skin much more than you think. Here’s why.
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the body to control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, fight illnesses, and influence memory formation. Under normal circumstances, it is anti-inflammatory, which is good. It also sets the body daily circadian rhythm so you can get out of bed in the morning and fall asleep at night. When you’re stressed and anxious, however, the body responds by over-producing cortisol as part of the fight-or-flight response. Without a proper way of relief, the extra cortisol in the body resulted from accumulated stress starts to become very inflammatory.
Skin health also heavily relies on gut health and sleep health, and together they can cause a variety of skin issues. Excess cortisol directly affects our gut, leading to symptoms such as poor digestion, stomach cramps, bloating, and constipation, which then manifest into acne, inflammations, and dull skin. On the other hand, during sleep is when healing molecules like beta-endorphins, growth hormones, and oxytocin get released in the body. Without enough quality sleep, the skin won’t be able to repair itself.
When you’re feeling anxious and irritated, your blood flow increases. This can lead to expanded capillaries, which turns the face red and puffy. While this affects everyone, those with skin concerns like rosacea must keep their cortisol levels in check to avoid stimulating their capillaries.
What Products To Use: Use products containing ingredients that are highly soothing and reparative to bring down that redness. L’ascorbic acid, strong, foaming cleansers, and oil-controlling products should be avoided.
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Unseasonal Kind Lipid Replenishment Oil <- Click to shop
Excess cortisol can break down elastin and collagen. Moreover, constant frowning and holding extra pressure in the face can also cause wrinkles, especially on the forehead, at the nasal folds, and around the eyes. If this keeps on going, the skin will not be able to bounce back one day, leading to permanent wrinkles.
What Products To Use: To stimulate elastin and collagen production whilst smoothing out those fine lines and wrinkles, use products that contain peptides, retinol, and AHAs. Consistency is key here.
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Not only does cortisol exacerbate inflammations, leading to eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and irritations etc., the higher its level is, the more insulin the body will produce, which in turn stimulates the skin to pump out extra sebum. And there you have it, acne, whiteheads and blackheads.
What Products To Use: Give the skin extra ammunition to fight off inflammations with topical probiotic and prebiotic. The former creates a protective shield by preventing bad bacteria from provoking an immune reaction, fights off bad bacteria by producing natural antibiotics called antimicrobial peptides on the skin, and boost the skin's health; whilst, the latter serves as the food source for the good bacteria on the skin, and promote a more diverse array of bacteria that is key to healthy skin.
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Cortisol severely weakens the skin’s natural barrier and its ability to retain water. This essentially means the skin gets dehydrated, a lot drier, and much more sensitive and prone to acne and even more inflammations. Worse, if the skin is constantly dry, you may find hyperpigmentation and wrinkles start to get worse.
What Products To Use: A heavy, thick moisturizer is never the answer to repairing the skin barrier——in fact, it could cause clogged pores and breakouts. Instead, choose a moisturizer that is rich in unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid and phytosterols, as well as regenerative botanicals, to nurture the epidermal barrier back to health.
Nutritive Repair Emulsion <- Click to shop
LILOU Radiant Hydra Balm <- Click to shop
At the end of the day, finding the right way of relief is paramount in the long-term (as in don’t turn to alcohol and cigarettes!). Yet the truth is, once the cortisol levels are high, it can be difficult to bring them down. So what can you do then?
Besides exercising, meditation, and yoga, try to have a phone/news-free hour everyday to give the mind some room to breathe, and try taking in nature for as long as you can——did you know, even staring at a tree has a cortisol lowering effect. Also, from time to time, put politics, daily chores and worries aside, and enjoy some quiet, fun times with your loved ones, doing something that you love.
What we always tend to forget is that sometimes, simple things in life, like a hug, can actually do wonders.
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