With Hurricane Irma finally behind us, people in South Florida and other parts of the country affected by the storm are slowly getting back into their routines. Yes, we know the hurricane and its aftermath caused a lot of stress, but you probably didn’t realize how that can affect your skin.
Here, then, are three major ways that stress can wreak havoc on your skin and what you can do to reduce stress levels and improve your complexion.
Hindering Skin Barrier Function
Many studies have cited a link between emotional stress and decreased skin barrier function, which can, in turn, lead to dry skin, increased signs of aging and even acne. The skin’s protective barrier is responsible for retaining moisture inside the skin, while at the same time keeping harmful particles and pollutants out. So when this function is impeded by stress, not only does your skin lose moisture at an increased rate, but it is also more susceptible to infection.
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Higher Cortisol Levels
Stress has also been shown to raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes an increase in both the sebum (oil) production of your skin and the glucose (sugar) levels in your bloodstream. Both of these factors can contribute to acne, as excess oil can cause your pores to become clogged. Current evidence also shows that increased sugar intake is linked with increased breakouts.
To help calm acne flare-ups, use a salicylic acid cleanser to soothe the skin and cleanse your pores.
Increased glucose levels can trigger a process known as glycation, which is one of the leading contributors to signs of premature skin aging. Glycation happens when sugar molecules bind to and damage or even destroy proteins like collagen, which leads to skin aging and increased fragility.
On top of the spike in glucose because of increased cortisol levels, stress also tends to make us want to eat sweets and junk food, which can accelerate glycation even further.
How to lower stress levels
So what can you do about stress, especially when it’s caused by a traumatic event like Hurricane Irma? For starters, you can try to eat healthy, get enough rest, and stick with your regular exercise routine. The storm cleanup is sure to be another stressful time, so do the best you can.
Once the cleanup is over and life gets back to normal, you can add reparative products like Defenage 8-in-1 Bioserum to your routine to help turn back the clock to your body’s pre-stress cellular condition. If your skin still isn’t clearing up, make sure you’re following the right skin care regimen for your skin type.
I hope that you all had minimal damage to your home and that your stress levels soon return to “normal.”
Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.