Why stress-free is the best skincare routine
Good evening! Masktini is reporting LIVE from Stresstown, USA—where Thanksgiving leftovers have got us wondering where our waists went, and the quadruple whammy of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year’s has got us jonesing for JUST ONE DAY without holiday parties, mall excursions or adult-type obligations of any kind. So... are we having fun yet?
The answer is probably NO because the holidays are your basic nightmare. Anxiety is the most common mental affliction in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults—that’s 18% of the population—and December is Ground Zero for flare-ups. And you know what else flares up when we stoke the fires of stress? Our skin! With this in mind, we’ve cooked up this little chat about stress-related skin conditions...along with our favorite ways to help your face chill TFO.
The Stress-Skin Connection
We love us some science at Masktini HQ, so let’s start there. When you encounter something that’s stressful, your body naturally dumps a bunch of cortisol into your bloodstream. This is the infamous fight-or-flight hormone: the stuff that kept us alive during our cave-dwelling days when the majority of stressful situations involved actual threats to life and limb.
In the modern world, though, stress can also be mental or emotional. And, when our bodies aren’t burning up all of that excess cortisol with physical activity—say, running from a cave bear or saber-toothed tiger—it tends to hang around and wreak havoc on our bodies, including our skin. There are so many skin conditions caused by stress and anxiety, in fact, that a brand-new medical specialty is emerging: psychodermatology. In a recent interview with WebMD, Karen Mallin (PsyD) said, “The mind and skin are connected on many different levels; as emotions are played out neurologically, they can be expressed through the skin—just as stress can be expressed through gastrointestinal symptoms.” Makes sense!
Stress-Related Skin Conditions
So what are the most common skin conditions caused by stress and anxiety? Acne is probably the most widespread issue, for two reasons: cortisol sends your skin’s oil-producing glands into overdrive while also making your entire system more prone to inflammation. That’s a lose-lose situation for those annoying bumps and blemishes—which is why certain writers (who we won’t name here) break out when they’re under deadline. Every. Damn. Time.
People who are prone to autoimmune skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema are also likely to experience flare-ups of these conditions during stressful times. Like acne, these conditions are inflammatory—so when a suppressed immune system doesn’t kick in to calm the body’s natural inflammatory response, the result is often red, swollen, flaky and downright painful.
And, even if you’re one of those lucky queens whose complexion is impervious to the specific challenges discussed above, stress can still leave you feeling like a put-upon peasant, with pasty, tired-looking skin and noticeable under-eye baggage. Part of cortisol’s fight-or-flight response is to divert blood flow to major organs, leaving your face looking pale and drained. What’s more, extreme stress can actually fracture the delicate capillaries around your eyes, causing blood to pool and oxidize under the skin—leaving behind MAJOR dark circles.
Our fave fixes for skin conditions caused by stress and anxiety
Now for some good news: simply knowing the underlying root cause of your stress-related skin conditions is actually half the battle! The best way to find relief from any ailment caused by stress, whether it’s funky digestion or a wicked bout of bacne, is to proactively treat the stress itself rather than chase after the symptoms. So how, exactly, do you make that happen?
Exercise is one of our favorite all-purpose cures, and it works wonders on stress. Not only does it release those feel-good endorphins, but it also helps to reduce the levels of cortisol in your blood. The same goes for many relaxation techniques, including deep-breathing exercises and yoga—these activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which puts the brakes on anxiety.
Finally, a word about sleep. While it’s one of the most important ways to beat stress, it’s also deeply affected by stress—quite the vicious circle. If you find that your anxiety is affecting your sleep, try spending a few days making rest and relaxation your priorities. Lay off the coffee (sorry) and true crime podcasts (SO sorry) and turn off your phone at 8 PM. Trust us on this.
What if I'm too late?
If you have psoriasis or eczema and are experiencing a flare, it’s best to contact your regular dermatologist for a treatment strategy. For stress-related acne, make Masktini's Twilight Zone Tahitian Detox Mask your go-to fix. This two-powder punch of purifying bamboo charcoal and polishing black pearl will get you back to complexion perfection in just a few days. (For those stubborn monster zits, we absolutely love Peace Out Acne Healing Dots)
And for under-eye drama, follow our Masktini's Metal Head Gold Brightening Mask with a targeted moisturizer formulated specifically for this delicate area, like Saturday Skin’s Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream. Say so long to stress-related skin conditions...and hello to glow!