Middle School, High School, College Essentials
Students are under more stress than ever before. We all know the sun and environment have detrimental effects on our skin, but few of us stop to think about the effects that the demands of modern education —and its stress and lack of sleep—have on the skin’s health. Even though students in their teens and twenties have young, resilient skin, increasing numbers are developing dark circles, patchy skin, breakouts, and other advanced signs of aging. A lack of sleep and stress have far-reaching skin implications.
How A Lack of Sleep and Stress Affect Skin
Both lack of sleep and stress prompt our bodies to produce a hormone called cortisol, which causes blood sugar levels in our bodies to rise. This can lead to weight gain, heart problems, and now recent research is shedding light on the connection between cortisol production, stress and lack of sleep—and the effect this has on our skin.
Cortisol-caused blood sugar increases can accelerate the aging process, since excess sugar can compromise the collagen in our skin and lead to wrinkles. Acne can also be exacerbated by cortisol that’s released when external factors affect our bodies. Research has also shown that these hormonal surges can impair skin’s barrier as well, leading to dryness, irritation and inflammation—which, as we know, are less than desirable when it comes to our skin.
What Students Should Do to Improve Their Skin
So what can you do to minimize cortisol production caused by stress and lack of sleep? First, aim to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. Avoiding caffeine can help. You should also try to eat a healthy, low-sugar diet, and remember that starchy vegetables like potatoes are ultimately converted into sugar when they are processed by our bodies.
Second, choose the right products. Cleanser, a sunscreen with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB and a rating of at least SPF 30+ daily, a moisturizer and acne spot treatment are essential from your teen years onward. For college students, an antioxidant cream, such as Replenix Power of Three, can help to repair the damage caused by an all-nighter.
To keep inflammation under control, students should also make sure they get enough omega-3s, either from the foods you eat or supplements. (For skin inflammation, look for soothing topical ingredients like feverfew, chamomile and salicylic acid).
Lastly, slow down! Set aside some time for yourself every day to do a good-for-your-mind-and-body activity like meditation, exercise or a pampering bubble bath. And don’t underestimate the power of aromatherapy. Research shows that a little lavender essential oil can go a long way for relaxation. Although there is more pressure than ever to get good grades and test scores, participate in extracurricular activities, and keep up with your friends online and offline, it’s important to cultivate positive relaxation habits now. Believe it or not, your skin will thank you!
Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through Derm.net.