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Are Tears Good for Your Skin? The Beauty Behind Crying

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Crying is natural. It can be stimulated chemically, or it can be a human coping mechanism to deal with emotional overwhelm, be it from good emotions, such as joy, enthusiasm, happiness, or from bad emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, shame, guilt, or disgust. Both mind and body benefit from a good cry when emotions run high. But can our physical beauty benefit from it too? Are tears good for your skin? It’s a “yes and no” kind of situation.  

  • What are tears made of?
  • What does crying do to the body and mind?
  • Are tears good for your skin?
  • Tears and the sensitive skin around your eyes
  • Can tears prevent breakouts and acne?
  • Crying can disrupt the skin’s natural protective barrier
  • Why does the skin around the nose look red when crying? Why do your cheeks appear flushed?
  • How to take care of your facial skin after crying
  • Pat the tears away and deal with puffy eyes
  • Cold compresses help alleviate skin redness and inflammation
  • Invest in a natural face wash without harsh chemicals
  • Calm down & moisturize!
  • Avoid sun exposure or apply protection!

What are tears made of?

When it comes to chemical composition, tears are made of water, enzymes, lipids, electrolytes (salt, potassium, manganese) and metabolites. Sometimes they can contain antibodies. And sometimes they can contain prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and Leu-enkephalin, aka stress hormones.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are different types of tears, although they’re all produced by the lacrimal glands: 

  • There are basal tears, the ones that are biologically needed to lubricate the eyes. Basal tears keep impurities away and protect, lubricate and nourish the cornea.
  • Reflex tears have a protective purpose as well. When the eye is irritated by a harmful substance or a foreign object, it releases a larger amount of tears. These tears contain antibodies to help fight microbes and bacteria. 
  • Emotional tears are a natural human response triggered by strong emotions. Crying usually makes us feel better and many studies were performed to see how crying helps us release emotional stress and tension accumulated in the body.

What does crying do to the body and mind?

When we cry emotional tears, the limbic and lacrimal systems collaborate. The limbic system, aka the part of your brain dealing with raw emotions, gets aroused when certain emotions are high. The limbic system triggers the Pons, a part of the brainstem, aka the "message station." It sends the message to the tear duct to produce tears. Scientists say that stress hormones released in tears may help regulate the body, as a part of the homeostasis process. 

No, don’t calm down! And do not cave in front of “Here come the waterworks!” Not only does the body benefit from a good cry, but it seems that suppressed emotions can trigger illness. Muscle tension, digestive issues, fatigue, acute stress responses, sleep problems, cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure can all be related to emotional pain as well. 

And while emotional people tend to be perceived as warm, but less competent, psychologists think crying comes with health benefits. Crying releases oxytocin and endorphins, helping us navigate bad emotions. The release of emotional pain and accumulated stress are the main benefits of crying for your mind and body. In turn, this creates emotional resilience and a more stable and adaptable individual: less anxiety, fewer chances of depression, rage outbursts and even bad relationships.  

Are tears good for your skin?

There’s more to crying than meets the eye. We’ve all noticed that a good cry can make us dust off and try again. But do tears have benefits for our skin as well? What can happen to your skin when you're crying too much? Can crying very often have lasting effects on your skin? Should we adapt our skincare routine to match our emotional states? We are pretty sure you’ve noticed your splotchy skin and puffy, red eyes after a good cry. And they are not to be taken lightly!

Tears and the sensitive skin around your eyes

Delicate skin will not benefit from a good cry. The thin, sensitive skin around the eyes can become irritated faster. Then there’s that puffiness we all recognize after a good cry. This happens since a big accumulation of tears can produce swelling of the soft tissue around the eyes. In the same manner, blood vessels around the area dilate due to increased blood flow. Irritation and puffiness will appear around the eyes. The problem with this? We tend to rub them even more, harming the sensitive skin.

Increased blood flow in the blood vessels in the face will cause the skin to flush. Why is this important to skin care? Well, it’s especially important for people with rosacea and breakouts that worsen when the pressure is increased in the capillaries of the face. This can lead to broken blood vessels, especially since we tend to rub our face more while crying. 

Can tears prevent breakouts and acne?

Does crying make your face clear? Do tears make your skin clear? Or can tears cause pimples? The chemistry of tears might suggest that oily skin types may benefit from a good cry. This seems to be since tears contain salt, which can help kill bacteria responsible for acne. Still, dermatologists say that there’s also a big disadvantage: salty water can have a drying effect on your skin. And then there’s also acne mechanica, which can be caused by rubbing of the skin when crying.   

Crying can disrupt the skin’s natural protective barrier

Does crying cause wrinkles? Maybe not directly. Can crying disrupt the skin's natural protective barrier? Again, maybe not directly. But when we cry, we rub our eyes and wipe our tears away, irritating the outermost layer of the skin. This layer protects the dermis from harmful environmental stressors and seals in the moisture. When this layer is disrupted the skin becomes more vulnerable to pollution, allergens, microbes, sun damage.

Why does the skin around the nose look red when crying? Why do your cheeks appear flushed?

Tears drain into the tear ducts which are correlated to the nose. This makes your nose runny while crying and can cause sensitive skin around the nostrils. This is why the skin around your nose is red, irritated, and swollen when crying.

How to take care of your facial skin after crying

The main goal of taking care of your skin after crying is restoration and protection. In other terms, decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation. A good facial massage will do wonders for your skin and your mind as well. It will drain the lymphatic system and create a state of wellbeing. You can also add some essential oils to your diffuser to increase relaxation. Lavender and rose work great in this scenario.

Rose essential oil


Pat the tears away and deal with puffy eyes

Pat tears away with care. Use non-scented and non-moisturized tissues. You can avoid chemical substances this way. Also, you can add a facial mist tonic to your tissue to help alleviate irritation and enhance skin protection. 

Mist tonic


Cold compresses help alleviate skin redness and inflammation

A cool washcloth applied on your face will help constrict the blood vessels. This will diminish inflammation and swelling. 

Invest in a natural face wash without harsh chemicals

Another important step: focus on repairing the skin’s barrier disrupted by abrasions and salt. Use a face wash that contains natural ingredients, since any harsh chemicals can furthermore irritate the skin. Let go of sulfates and other toxic chemicals since they can harm the skin. A natural face wash can help prevent flare-ups and restore the skin.

Calm down & moisturize!

Use a face moisturizer that will sustain the restoration of your skin’s protective barrier and that can deal with dryness, inflammation, and dehydration. 

Coconut perfecting cream

Avoid sun exposure or apply protection!

Since crying, rubbing your face, and post-cry irritation can cause your skin’s barrier to be disrupted, watch out for sun exposure! If you are outside, don't forget to reapply your SPF protection lotion to prevent damage. 

Cry your way to better skin? While crying can cause minor irritation, dehydration, and inflammation of sensitive skin, it does help us feel balanced. And you know what they say: a balanced mind shows on your skin. Dermatologists link acne, pimples, and other skin conditions to stress. So maybe all we can do is adapt our post-sob kit and diminish the negative impact of crying on our skin. While enjoying its benefits. 

Iulia Claudia Dumitru

I feel happy when I get to tell meaningful stories. About people. About the world. About life. About what people need to feel good. Healthy food, a balanced lifestyle, a grateful approach to relationships with others and ourselves. That is how I keep myself grounded and purposeful. That is how I aim to contribute: striving to make ourselves the best we can. Creating life in the little things. Living every day with the joy, wonder, and curiosity of a child. Trying to #seeKbeauty. Inside and out.

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