Few have managed to come out stress-free this year, and we don’t blame them! 2020 has been a hectic year, with maskne to top it all off. Stress is the number one silent killer around the world. The combination of high-stress events and social isolation has brought a new level of stressed skin. Since stress affects the body and your overall health, it’s important to learn how to manage it to keep your skin calm and not irritated.
What Is Stress?
When you feel stressed, the cortisol levels in your body rise. Cortisol, or the fight-or-flight hormone, is your body’s main stress hormone. This hormone impacts different parts of your body, which is why your skin can start to show signs of stress (not to mention hair loss, breakouts, skin irritation, fine lines, and more).
What Does Stressed Skin Look Like? Signs Of Stressed Skin
Elevated cortisol levels tell a part of your brain called the hypothalamus to produce a hormone called “corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)”. This hormone is thought to stimulate oil release from the sebaceous glands around your hair follicles. This increased oil production, mixed with increased sebaceous secretion, can clog your pores to cause rashes or even scalp acne (don’t fret, we have a scalp acne guide for you here!) This stress also results in fragile capillaries under your eyes breaking, leaving your face looking sallow and tired. Because of this, dark circles and under eye bags seem more apparent.
The stress rashes you might get are from the increased inflammation within the body and lower-functioning immune system. Stress can also impair your skin’s barrier function, negatively affecting skin water retention and elasticity. This means more dry patches, wrinkles, and sagging in the face! Yikes. Lastly, we’ve all heard the old wive’s tale about stress causing white hairs, and until this year scientists didn’t know why that was. Because of a 2020 study published in Nature, now we know “that sympathetic nervous activity from stress can cause the stem cells that create melanocytes to disappear. Once these cells disappear, new cells lose their color and turn gray.” Chronic stress can also cause your hair growth cycle to be offset, causing increased hair loss. All in all, stress impacts your skin’s health in so many ways, what can you do about it?
Scrub Away Your Stress
Your stress could use a self-care spa day! We’re a fan of DIY’s, like adding a handful of sugar (ideally some kind of raw sugar with a large crystal size) into your palm full of WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Shampoo. This will help dislodge hair follicle build-up with physical exfoliation, clarifying the scalp with Himalayan apple cider vinegar, and balance the pH to promote healthy hair growth again. You can use this same hack with one of WOW Skin Science’s Body Washes. Add a palmful of sugar for a fabulously foamy body scrub. Both of these DIYs will help to get your skin baby soft, smooth, and hydrated again. Adding a few squirts of body wash into your bath water will create an Insta-worthy mountain of bubbles for self-care bath time.
When you step out of that tub, tone and add additional protection to your skin with WOW Skin Science 10-In-1 Apple Cider Vinegar Mist Tonic. This spray can be used all over your face and body to add back hydration and provide added antioxidant protection against sun damage. Seal in your skin’s moisture with WOW Skin Science Body Butter Rich Olive at the end. This thick moisturizer will condition your stressed skin, and soothe any irritation. This acts as an added barrier against the roughness of the outside world!
Soothe Your Stress
Stress regulation is easier said than done, but there are things to help this process. Using essential oils can help subdue the feelings of anxiety through aromatherapy. Aromatherapy works because when inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain to impact the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. Because of this, using oils for stress relief and lowering symptoms of anxiety are best. Using oils like lavender, peppermint or geranium can help you destress. If you’re looking for stress relief on-the-go (or a great gift), use diffusing accessories such as diffuser necklaces, earrings, or bracelets to emit the scent wherever you go.
To use the essential oil directly on your skin (remember to mix with a carrier oil!), apply on your pulse points to help those feelings of being overwhelmed. Try an essential oil blend specifically formulated for stress relief for the most effective relief. WOW Skin Science Stress Melt Essential Oil Blend is the one for you, plant-powered by 7 high-quality essential oils known to help lower cortisol levels and bring about a level of relaxation. If you have an electric diffuser, add 2-3 drops of this blend to help melt the stress away at the end of the day. You can also add a drop or two onto a cotton ball, and stuff inside your pillowcase for a DIY pillow spray that won’t ruin your pillowcase!
Improve Your Stress
You can try to fix the outside signs of stress, but stress manifests inside our body as well. Aside from seeing stress in our skin, we can see it in our digestion, our ability to think, our teeth and jaw, etc. This means that we won’t be able to tackle it just from one angle. The most important thing to keep in mind is that due to the hormones in our bodies, there is a lot we can do holistically to make sure we’re treating ourselves the best we can. Eating healthy foods that are known to help against stress is very important-- foods like dark chocolate, multigrain products, avocados, omega-rich fish, and citrus fruits (amongst a lot of others) are great to include in your diet. Exercising and sweating is the best way to detox your cortisol levels, which in turn will help to lower stress and its effects. Lastly, trying to add meditation and methods of relaxation into your daily routine can help keep a calm and grounded demeanor. A lot of people also say that humming a bit loudly and gutturally helps to stimulate the vagus nerve, which helps to quell anxiety and even helps anxiety-induced nausea!
The American Medical Association has stated that stress is the cause of 50% or more of all human illnesses and diseases--that says a lot about how we handle stress as a culture. This means that the daily responsibilities can be stressing you out, so learning how to manage how we experience our stress and cope with it will improve your self-care routine. Using natural skincare and wellness to help destress is a wonderful way to help focus on yourself and find peace within. Stress is a daily uphill battle, so good luck on this evergreen journey!
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