stressedOvertime at work. A 15-page college term paper. Family ups and downs. These scenarios are a part of everyday life that can cause psychological stress.

We all know the physical effects of being stressed out (weak knees, sore back, headaches, to name a few), but don’t forget that stress takes its physical toll on our largest organ, our skin. In fact, skin is often the first place where stress manifests itself on your body.

Excess stress causes an imbalance of the body’s hormones, especially cortisol, the main cause of various skincare ailments including acne, eczema, sores and psoriasis.  Stress is also the source of other skin concerns, such as dryness and a dull, lackluster complexion.

So how do you avoid letting stress cause havoc on your skin and how do you reclaim your natural glow? A good place to start is by practicing healthy lifestyle rituals and using natural and effective skincare products to help strengthen the skin’s ability to heal itself.

How does stress affect skin?

Being stressed causes an increase of the hormone cortisol, a powerful steroid that shuts down part of the immune system, causing one to experience cold or flu-like symptoms. Cortisol can also increase the body’s vulnerability to allergens. The effects of cortisol on skin include acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, fever blisters and a possible chance in the increase of cold sores. The main concern that most people notice when they’re stressed out is an increase of acne, since cortisol signals the sebaceous (oil) glands to produce more oil.

Besides causing acne flare-ups and inflammation, what other skincare concerns are caused by stress?

According to Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D., the increase of cortisol is also responsible for glycation. This process occurs when the increased levels of cortisol cause excess sugar to be released into the blood. The excess sugar binds to collagen, causing it to become stiff and rigid, leading to collagen breakdown which in turn leads to an increase of fine lines and wrinkles. Cortisol also leads to a decrease of hyaluronic acid, a substance in our skin responsible for moisture, and cortisol compromises the skin barrier, allowing more moisture to escape and less to be produced.

Another byproduct of stress is epinephrine (adrenaline), the same chemical responsible for our “flight or fight” response. Epinephrine causes a poor complexion by decreasing blood flow which deters oxygen to our skin, causing it to look dull and sallow.

Dr. Baumann also believes the increase of cortisol can cause an increase of toxins, which can lead to more fat around the organs. Cortisol excess may also be linked to cellulite due to the decrease of blood flow and flushing of toxins.

Besides affecting my skin, how else does stress affect me?

Stress can lead to nervous habits, such as constantly rubbing, scratching or picking at the facial skin. Extreme stress may also decrease the level of discipline to one’s skincare routine, causing some to neglect their skin by going to bed without taking off makeup, washing their face or moisturizing.

How do I get my skin back on track after it’s visibly affected by stress?

Take a holistic approach.

  • Get enough sleep, at least 7-8 hours each night.
  • Exercise regularly, not only to decrease stress but to increase blood flow.
  • Take time for yourself: Set aside at least ten minutes to do something relaxing, such as read a book or take a bath.
  • Practice stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing or yoga.
  • Avoid eating too many refined carbohydrates to prevent glycation.

Which skincare products can I use to help repair my stressed skin?

Make sure you stay consistent with a daily skincare routine: cleanse, tone and moisturize. Make sure you use completely clean, pure, natural and organic products since your skin drinks everything applied on it! Try:

  • LaVigne Organics Botanical Cleanser – A gentle yet effective deep-cleansing concentrate with Tepezcohuite to detoxify, heal and replenish skin.
  • LaVigne Organics Clear Magic Mist – A healing, anti-inflammatory toner that helps reduce blemishes while reviving the complexion. You can also use this throughout the day for as a skin refresher!
  • LaVigne Organics Mayan Magic Healing Balm – A cocktail treatment for the skin that contains three ingredients: shea butter, an emulsifier and our signature ingredient, Tepezcohuite (Mimosa tenuiflora). This ultra-effective balm helps heal various skin concerns, including dry, cracked skin, rashes, psoriasis and eczema. Tepezcohuite is a natural analgesic to promote healing and help with strengthening and repairing the skin barrier.
  • LaVigne Intensive Eye Cream – Undo nights of little to no sleep or lack of hydration with this all-in-one eye treatment that hydrates, treats fine lines, and minimizes dark circles and puffiness. Contains sunflower oil, ginseng (an anti-inflammatory and anti-irritation compound), arnica (anti-inflammatory) soy isoflavones (an antioxidant to fight free radicals) and Tepezcohuite.