Skin Under Pressure
Is your skin telling you to chill out?
Written by Carlyn
Like any other organ in the body, the skin consistently communicates with the brain and therefore picks up on many of your thoughts and feelings. According to plastic surgeon Dr. Lara Devgan of New York City, “any type of stress can manifest in your skin, since the skin is actually the largest organ in the body.” Specific factors such as increased cortisol levels can cause inflammation, redness, dehydration and general discomfort—to name a few. The bottom line is, when you’re stressed, your skin feels it.
So how exactly can you reverse the progression of stress manifesting in the skin?
Toronto dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett suggests dumbing down your routine, aka going back to the basics. This means deleting products and ingredients with colours, dyes, fragrances and heavy oils. Depending on where your skin’s at, heavy makeup, including an oily layer of foundation should also be avoided—especially by stressed skin. As a rule of thumb, stressed skin really needs to breathe, which means it could be time to give your skin a little break. If stressed skin could talk, it would beg you to go fresh-faced for as long as it takes to calm down.
What can you do to avoid stressing your skin in the first place?
Dermatologists agree that knowing and understanding your skin, along with its specific concerns is key to maintaining a healthy and effective skin regimen. Understanding your skin includes using products that benefit and nurture your specific skin concerns.
Let’s be real, the skincare game is no easy feat. From complicated ingredient names, to conflicting routine information online, skincare users are often left scratching their heads trying to make sense of the madness. Often, people tend to unknowingly over-cleanse, without fuelling their skin with hydrating and protective ingredients such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Over-cleansing can cause the skin to become dry, irritated, red, or even excessively oily, causing breakouts. For those who are unclear about what products to use, Dr. Kellett suggests a consultation with a dermatologist to establish what ingredients are most effective for you and in what order to use your products. Furthermore, it’s important to make sure that your skin isn’t suffering from an actual medical issue.
Red and irritated skin could benefit from an emollient moisturizer, which works by decreasing trans-epidermal water loss by locking moisture into the skin. Since many skin issues such as eczema and dermatitis can worsen when the skin is irritated and dry, an emollient can help keep hydration levels high. The best emollient moisturizer we’ve come by is the Calming Balm with MicroSilver, an effective anti-inflammatory ingredient. Someone struggling with redness should also focus on using calming products without the presence of alcohols. Dr. Kellett’s favourite tip for irritated skin is to put your derm-approved product in the fridge prior to use, as the coolness can often help with the itch.
Bye Bye Breakouts:
An acne breakout can be a key sign of stress. Dr. Kellett recommends a clarifying cleanser to be used once or twice a day to help regulate your skin’s oil production. However, be careful not to be overly aggressive with cleansing, as patients tend to “scrub” their faces, hoping that this will help with a deeper clean. In fact, this excessive scrubbing can lead to more overproduction of oil in the skin and can actually make the existing acne condition worse. Be gentle with your skin! We love the Polishing Gel Cleanser for a deep and effective clean, without stripping the skin of it’s natural oils.
Benzoyl Peroxide is your new BFF when it comes to treating those annoying blemishes. BP works by attacking the bacteria on the skin and unclogging pores by removing dead skin to prevent blockages. We recommend the Medicated Acne Gel, which quickly starts drying up pimples overnight. The trick to maximizing the effectiveness of BP is to apply only a pea-sized amount for the entire face, since the ingredient is pretty strong.
Finally, avoiding oily and heavy products is key to reducing your acne condition. Thick foundations and sunscreens should be avoided and replaced with lightweight sprays and gels instead.
Demolish Dry Skin:
A derm’s secret trick to dealing with dry skin is to take baths instead of showers. According to Dr. Kellett, showers can increase water loss in the skin, which can cause the skin to become irritated and dry. Taking a bath and using a bath oil will help your skin create a protective and moisturized barrier, which will result in smooth and bouncy skin. Another useful tip is to apply moisturizer onto damp skin when getting out of the tub. The dampness of the skin will suck in the moisturizer, which will help your skin stay hydrated for longer.
People with dry skin concerns should also try to avoid foaming cleansers since the texture and consistency can be excessively drying to people with existing dry skin conditions. A foaming face wash is usually recommended for those with excessive oil.
While in a dry spell, avoiding chemical exfoliants such as AHAs, BHAs and glycolic acids is also key, since these intense ingredients work to regulate and reduce excessive oil production. For someone with dry skin, the use of chemical exfoliants could strip the skin further, resulting in itchy, flaky irritation.
Happy skincaring <3