It's time to confirm what you have already noticed. Stress brings more stress in its wake. When you're feeling ragged and run-down, you detect more breakouts, inflamed skin, surges of rosacea, aches and pains, and flare-ups of psoriasis and existing skin conditions. Yet, its effects are not limited to the face and skin. If you have an existing autoimmune condition, the negative effects of ongoing conditions flare up in response to stress. But why does this happen?
The Stress Response
Often dubbed the "fight or flight" response, the body's stress response helps you survive threats. At the sign of a trigger—physical, mental or emotional—the brain instantly signals the endocrine system, starting a complex chain of events that involve the immediate release of adrenaline and an increase in cortisol. The hormonal release ramps up the heart rate, reaction time and muscle contractions, helping us rapidly respond to the threat.
Today, the threats we face aren't just physical, like those arising from weather changes or animal predators. The stress response activates during emotional stressors (a fight with a companion, excessive work, bad traffic), which, unlike the onslaught of sudden rain or a disturbing encounter with a wolf, can persist at a low level for hours, days or months to come.
Typically, one's cortisol levels undergo daily oscillation, regulated by the internal circadian clock system. However, stress will significantly disrupt the cortisol levels throughout the day. When emotional stress gets under our skin, cortisol levels stay elevated. Scientific research has shown that under stress conditions, significantly elevated cortisol has a major impact on the immune system, and can lead to chronic inflammation.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s response to a threat, whether it's a foreign invader (like a bacteria, virus, cancer, or a transplanted organ), or even a psychological or emotional stressor. In response, the immune system sends out an army of chemicals, called pro-inflammatory cytokines, to attack the invaders.
Usually, pro-inflammatory cytokines do their job and then disappear, but when stress is chronic, they are “upregulated” in your system—meaning that the cycle of stress and inflammatory response gets habituated in the body.
In the skin, inflammation appears quickly as redness, itching, pimples, and swelling. Chronic, low-level inflammation also affects your sleep. From lingering aches and pains that make it difficult to fully rest to gastrointestinal irritation, less sleep also manifests as signs of dull, tired, dry, or overly oily skin. Autoimmune conditions like psoriasis are prone to flare-ups.
Manage Stress and Inflammation for Better Skin
Managing stress may seem nearly impossible when so many modern emotional stresses are embedded in daily rituals, and systemic to the way our entire society functions. Yet, as American philosopher William James said, "The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
Easier said than done, of course. Strategies to reduce stress are unique to you. You can try adjusting your usual schedules and patterns or incorporate exercise, meditation, therapeutic advice and dietary changes. No single solution is going to be fast—if there was a pill to reduce stress, we'd all be taking it already—but persistence will bring stackable rewards. We touched on some techniques to do this in a previous article which had tips and tricks on how to trigger relaxation with smart fragrance-based rituals.
In the meantime, as you sort out your new anti-stress regime, begin by tackling the inflammation that is leading to unsightly skin states and discomfort.
£75.00 | 50 ml / 1.8 Fl oz
Rescue your skin with this multi-purpose deeply nourishing balm that helps relieve dry and rough skin patches. This powerhouse blend of CBD, Arnica Oil, Avocado Oil, Shea Butter and Coconut Oil calms and nourishes the skin. Your skin is let feeling soothed, with the comforting scent of lavender and Palo Santo essential oils.
Five Dot Botanics
Pure Rewind | Restorative Mask
£28.00 | £30.00 / 1 oz
When skin gets stressed by the daily grind, this rich mineral clay mask restores skin to be velvet smooth. It leaves your skin looking brighter and clearer, as it draws out the grime, pollution and impurities.
£35.00 | Colour: Rainbow Fluorite
Improve blood flow, combat signs of ageing, reduce puffiness, and aid in reducing water retention with a daily facial Gua Sha massage. The ritual brings peace and comfort to sore muscles and tired skin, helping reduce stress.
£13.00 | 56 ml / 2 Fl oz
Cucumber Mattifying Mist is an oil-control facial mist that banishes shiny skin for good. Excess sebum can cause your makeup to break apart and melt off your face and give you clogged pores. Cucumber contains potent antioxidants that reduce puffiness and promote optimal water levels to lock in hydration while eliminating shine.
£13.00 | 155 g / 5.5 Fl oz
This face mask is packed with essential minerals and has vital antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It has effective natural cleansing agents that purify and detox the skin. It will remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, improving skin complexion and texture. The mask penetrates into the dermis, encouraging new skin cell growth. It tones and brightens, leaving your skin deeply revitalised and replenished.
CHUN | Brightening Probiotic Mask
£48.00 | 50 ml / 1.7 Fl oz
A fast-working creamy triple clay mask that deep cleanses, hydrates, and revitalises skin in under 5 minutes. Green and White Tea, Rice extracts and plant-based Hyaluronic Acid power this smooth face mask. No more fresh cucumber on your face—the mask is soothing and cooling because water has been entirely replaced with Cucumber distillate. Finally, the formula is enhanced by prebiotics to re-balance the skin’s microbiome.
Frankincense & Sweet Orange Face Balm
£30.00 | 50 ml / 1.8 Fl oz
A velvety face balm formulated used plant-derived and regenerative Ingredients that cocoon your skin in lovely goodness. This balm melts into a thin easily absorbed oil, leaving your skin soft & hydrated. Formulated with Frankincense and Orange, which have natural anti-inflammatory and skin rejuvenating properties.
Kokoa Eco Beauty
Aloe, Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Toner
£22.00 | 100 ml / 3.3 Fl oz
This soothing Aloe, Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Toner with Glycerin, Willow Bark and Niacinamide is great for aiding against breakouts and blemishes.
£50.00 / 50 ml / 1.7 oz
This trio of Blue Tansy (Moroccan Chamomile), Blue Chamomile (German Chamomile), and Blue Yarrow from Bulgaria brings the ultimate sensorial skin experience. Incredibly soothing with anti-inflammation benefits, this balm offers daily nourishment and works to retain skin moisture with a blend of powerhouse moisturising agents such as; Ghanaian Shea Butter, Kokum Butter from India, Camellia Seed Oil from Japan, and Marula Seed Oils from South Africa.
£6.99 | 100 g / 3.5 Fl oz
This Plantain and Oat soap is great for those with sensitive skin but still need a cleanser that is gentle in its ability to unclog pores. The oats and grounded dried plantain skin act as a gentle exfoliant which can aid in soothing skin and improving skin tone and texture. Oats are a versatile grain that works well with all skin types as it is an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant ingredient.
Organic Rosewater Clay Face Mask
£18.00 | 50 g / 1.8 oz
Made of French Green Clay and Rose Damascena water, this clay has anti-inflammatory properties. It aids in reducing redness and irritation and helps heal skin troubled by acne and eczema. French green clay's toning action also stimulates the skin for a brighter complexion.
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DeFino, J. (2020, December 8). This Is Your Skin on Stress. The New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/08/fashion/this-is-your-skin-on-stress.html
Fu, J., & Zhou, Y. (2019, April 24). The Interplay Between Stress, Inflammation, and Emotional Attention: Relevance for Depression. Frontiers. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2019.00384/full
Khatri, M. (2021, February 18). Inflammation Pictures for Women: Causes and Concerns With Pictures. WebMD. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/women/ss/slideshow-what-is-inflammation
Schipani, D., & Young, A. (2018, October 16). The Link Between Stress and Inflammation. Everyday Health. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/wellness/united-states-of-stress/link-between-stress-inflammation
Zelman, D. (2020, October 15). Inflammation: Definition, Diseases, Types, and Treatment. WebMD. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation