Stress and Skin Problems, Acne and Aging
Skin is your body’s largest organ and it has immune system functions to protect your health just like other organs. Stress alerts the hypothalamus which sends a message to the pituitary gland and on to the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands react within minutes to the stress by producing cortisol stress hormone. This production of cortisol in your system causes inflammation in organs which in turn produces ‘oxidants’ that damage cells. Short term, this inflammation can ward off disease but if the inflammation becomes chronic it can harm the body in many ways with a large variety of illnesses. This is also true for the skin as well. If a pore is inflamed due to production of cortisol, it is thick with swelling and more likely to become clogged and result in a blemish. And when the collagen in your skin becomes inflamed, its structure breaks down and causes wrinkles and sagging. The more stress you’re exposed to and the longer, the more skin problems may worsen such as premature aging, wrinkles and acne. Even the facial expression responses to stress (frowning, pursing lips, etc) can really speed up the wrinkling process. Acne in teens is shown to flare up and become 23% worse around exam time when stress is greater. When you combine the fact that teens normally produce more sebum oil in their skin at their age, with inflammation from cortisol, you’re sure to have zits. And the teen years can be filled with stressful life changes. Most often when anyone is under stress, the first thing they do is throw healthy habits out the window-they skip exercising, eat junk food or smoke, omit skin care routines, etc. To reduce the effects of stress on your skin (and the rest of your organs), prepare for stress and give yourself breaks so you can handle the situations better. Don’t cut out exercising during stressful times, in fact that’s when it’s most beneficial. In as little as 15 minutes of brisk walking a day, your endorphin levels will be raised which boost mood uplifting chemicals in your brain. Things that improve endorphin levels and also relax your body/mind are yoga, meditation or massage. And absolutely don’t forget to give yourself plenty of sleep since that’s a time of healing and sleep is a natural anti-inflammatory which brings down cortisol levels. Antioxidant vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C and E and zinc can also help ward off the cell damage caused by chronic inflammation. The best form of getting these vitamins are always from your natural food sources of course, but there are plenty of supplements on the store shelves along with lots of skin products containing antioxidants and vitamins for external use as well. Green tea is well known for its internal and external benefits of being a strong antioxidant so make use of these natural healers internally and externally as well.
Skin Creams and Vitamins
Vitamins A, C and E often are antioxidant ingredients added in expensive skin care products to rejuvenate and repair skin cells. You can add these skin healthy vitamins to your less expensive creams by puncturing the vitamin gel capsule with a straight pin and mix a few drops into your dollop of cream, or apply a thin film directly to skin before massaging in your cream. Keep in mind that the vitamin strength and integrity will diminish quickly once it is exposed to air so only use one small capsule at a time. Use the straight pin to plug the hole in the capsule if you need to use it over a few days. The best time to use creams with vitamins or rejuvenating nutrients is before bed since sleep helps your skin to repair itself.
When looking for a base cream or lotion, hyaluronic acid and peptides based creams help plump up skin with moisture which makes wrinkles look less noticeable. Glycerin can absorb moisture from the air making your skin look more dewy and moist. For oily skin, serums can hydrate skin without clogging pores or making skin look oilier. Serums are also good to use for damaged and aging skin as well. They are lightweight, don’t look greasy and they tend to have more potent levels of skin repairing nutrients that absorb quicker which can make them more effective rather than heavy creams that tend to lie on top of your skin.