Dear Derm: My Stress Levels Really Affect My Skin – What Can I Do To Help?

Anyone who’s had a rough week knows the look: puffy eyes, dark circles, the sudden appearance of fine lines.

Known in the industry as 'stress ageing' – brought on by a demanding job, lack of sleep, and an unhealthy lifestyle – this onslaught of skin aggressors can add three to six years to your skin.

"Acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, premature ageing and many other skin conditions are linked to stress levels," Dublin-based skincare expert Ciara Darcy tells Irish Tatler. 

"When I do a skin consultation it's one of the areas that I focus on, it's a crucial part of the healthy skin puzzle.

"Stress reduces blood flow, increases cortisol and damages DNA. A reduction in blood flow means your skin begins to lack in nutrients and oxygen, so skin healing is greatly reduced. When your body produces more cortisol it releases sugars that are intended for the body to use as energy – fight or flight mode.

"This can create inflammation within the skin and breakdown collagen and elastin fibres. Collagen and elastin support the skin to keep it firm and tight."

Thankfully, much of this damage can be mitigated by focusing on daily moments of self-care. When you trigger what’s called the relaxation response, it can stop psychological stress from being translated into inflammation.

Look for products with skin barrier–protecting ceramides, anti-inflammatory ingredients such as rose, and antioxidants like vitamin C and green tea. Topical and oral probiotics send calming signals to the skin, and cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, has shown anti-inflammatory and anti-acne benefits when applied topically.

Some even download any number of meditation apps to soothe skin troubles from the inside out. 

"As Ronan Keating says life is a rollercoaster!! Keeping stress at bay can be easier said than done. Minding yourself with meditation, journaling, reading, focusing on your breathing and reducing stimulants such as coffee and alcohol are all helpful tools. If adult acne has started, stress could be a massive piece in the skin puzzle for you."

To book a skin consultation, please email [email protected].

Main image by @jeancampbell

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