How to Protect Your Skin from Stress
Stress can wreak havoc on your skin, since it triggers inflammation, sebum (oil) production, and many other unwanted effects. While psychological stress can lead to acne breakouts, rosacea flare-ups, and wrinkles, environmental sources of stress can also contribute to these conditions. Use these tips to protect your skin from various sources of stress to maintain a healthy, youthful-looking complexion.
1. Sun, Wind, and Cold
The sun is one of the largest extrinsic sources of stress to your skin and is responsible for a wide array of skin problems, including wrinkles, dark spots, redness, and an uneven tone and texture. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays leads to DNA damage and free radical formation, which can result in photoaging and skin cancer. The most effective way to protect your skin from sun damage is by seeking shade whenever possible and staying out of indoor tanning beds. Sunscreen should also be a part of your daily skin care routine, regardless of your skin type. Remember that UV light can penetrate the glass windows in your office and car, so even if you’re not outside, your skin could still be exposed to the sun.
Cold, windy weather can also stress your skin and cause dryness, redness, and flaking. Cover up your skin when outdoors in this type of weather with gloves and scarves. If you are a dry skin type, use an MLE barrier repair moisturizer such as Zerafite™ to replenish your skin’s natural protective lipids.
Excessive friction can also cause stress to your skin and damage its protective barrier. Using an abrasive scrub or shower loofah or even kissing a man with a beard can irritate your skin. Protect against irritation caused by friction by strengthening your skin’s barrier. Use a creamy moisturizing cleanser such as NIA 24 or PCA, then use a barrier repair moisturizer like Zerafite Barrier Repair Moisturizer.
While red wine contains an anti-inflammatory compound called resveratrol, excessive drinking of any type of alcohol causes dilated blood vessels and inflammation. This is especially problematic for people with rosacea, whose symptoms can become more pronounced after drinking excessively. A 2017 study found that white wine and liquor caused the most rosacea flares in women, which makes sense, given that these are the only two types of alcohol that do not contain any anti-inflammatory flavonoids.
Drinking alcohol in moderation is the best way to protect your skin and body from the negative effects, which include dryness, dehydration, and redness. If you have rosacea, talk to your doctor about Rhofade™, a once-daily topical medication that helps to prevent facial flushing.
4. Air Pollution
Air pollution is unfortunately unavoidable, especially if you live in a large city. The toxic particles in the air cause the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which have been linked with accelerated skin aging, such as dark spots and wrinkles. ROS can also deplete your skin of vitamin E and important lipids that are crucial for proper barrier function. Similarly, smoking is a top contributor to prematurely aged skin, and even a five-year difference in smoking history can have a considerable impact on the health and function of your skin.
If you live in a heavily populated area with lots of traffic, avoiding air pollution altogether is nearly impossible. Protect your skin by adding topical and oral antioxidants to your daily skin care regimen and diet. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and argan oil are examples of topical antioxidants that can protect your skin from free radicals caused by air pollution. You can also eat antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries, pomegranates, citrus fruits, and bell peppers.
5. Emotional Stress
In addition to extrinsic (external) sources of stress, intrinsic (internal) stress has a hand in triggering inflammation and the unwanted effects to your skin that come along with it. Acute stress is a normal part of life, but chronic stress that persists over a long period of time can wreak havoc on your body and skin.
More research is being done on the calming effects of aromatherapy. Lavender oil is one of the best-known essential oils for stress relief. Studies have also found that spending time outdoors in nature, even for a small amount of time in a park or other green area, can reduce stress and have a psychological restorative quality. Taking small steps to help relieve chronic emotional stress can reduce systemic inflammation and its many negative effects on your skin and body.
Intrinsic and extrinsic stressors are known to play a large role in the development of premature aging and other unwanted effects on the skin. By understanding what causes stress to your skin, you can better protect it from a vicious cycle of inflammation.
For more skin care advice, research, and how-to videos from Dr. Leslie Baumann, follow Baumann Cosmetic on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
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