Did you know that natural beauty isn’t just the result of good genes? It’s the result of a combination of factors, including lifestyle and stress. Read through to find out how stress is affecting your beauty and what to do about it.
Stress plays a huge part in the health of our skin. A recent U.S. study found that women who showed signs of stress and anxiety towards tasks that were presented to them looked up to 10 years older at a cellular level. Yikes! When you’re stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released, causing all sorts of things to happen in your body.
Dull, dry skin:
Cortisol makes it harder for your skin to deal with damage and repair itself naturally and lowers your skin’s ability to hold on to water. When cortisol levels rise in your body, estrogen levels drop. Less estrogen means less collagen and less moisture, which can make your skin look dull and dry. When you’re stressed, your body also produces adrenaline. When adrenaline is present, blood flow to the skin decreases and takes oxygen and other important nutrients away from the skin, causing a lack of radiance.
Stress accelerates your hair’s natural cycle and causes it to fall out faster. Hair has 3 phases — growing, resting, and falling out. Stress speeds up that process and flips the switch from your hair’s growing phase to its resting phase. Hair loss is usually a reaction to significant physiological stress, so you may have to look back at your stress levels over the last 3 months to find the trigger. In most cases, once you have the trigger under control, your hair will return to its regular growing cycle.
Stress increases inflammation in the body and causes skin issues like acne, psoriasis, and eczema to flare up. Cortisol can also throw off other hormones in your body and cause breakouts on your face or body. Stress can also mess with your eating habits and healthy bacteria in your gut, and stomach problems can show up on your skin in the form of acne.
Fine lines and wrinkles:
When cortisol is released, sugar levels in your blood go up. Because of this, your skin starts a process called glycation, which hardens the skin and increases the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Furrowing your brows or pursing your lips when you’re stressed doesn’t help either. Regular facial expressions can cause deep lines over time.
Puffy, tired eyes:
During sleep, your skin repairs what has been damaged during the day. A lack of sleep puts stress on your skin, so making sure you have at least 7 hours of sleep is a must for healthy, stress-free skin. When you’re stressed, you’re unable to get the deep, restorative beauty sleep that your body needs. This can cause fluids to pool under your eyes and create dark, puffy, under-eye circles.
So, What Can You Do?
De-stress! Stress is natural, but it becomes a problem when you let it go unchecked. If you take the time once in a while to slow down, take some breaks, and relax, you will be not as stressed and you can limit the effects stress has on the skin. Find ways to de-stress that work for you. Breathe deeply, go for a walk, listen to your favorite song, or watch a funny video.
Some ways of de-stressing work for everyone. You can actually decrease your levels of cortisol and reverse the damage of stress by getting lots of restful sleep and exercise. Not to mention physical activity boosts circulation and helps your complexion! Drinking enough water (at least half your body weight in ounces) and eating well also give your body the nutrients it needs to repair itself.
Sam is a student at the University of California Berkeley and the founder of The Little Flower Collective, an online boutique that celebrates the unique beauty of every woman and features products from female artisans all over the world. She is a preschool teacher who has previously worked in fashion and journalism, a clean eating foodie, and the granddaughter of a coconut oil tycoon.