skincare mental health

Have you ever noticed a new breakout appear right before a big event you have? What about your cheeks blushing after feeling embarrassed? Although it may seem obvious, there may be a direct correlation between our mental state and the appearance of our skin. This has to make you wonder; can our skin tell us even more about what’s going on inside our bodies?

Skin is the body’s largest organ with many varying functions that aren’t always super obvious. It’s your body’s first defense in protecting your organs and plays a large role in keeping you healthy. Your skin regulates your body’s temperature, detoxifies waste, protects you from infection, and helps balance your hormones.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is our body’s central response system that controls how we react to stress. A peripheral HPA exists in the skin, meaning that your stress hormones and receptors are created in the skin and connect to the central HPA system originating in your brain. This essentially means that stress is stimulated both in the brain and the skin, making a clearer connection between the cause and effect of the two.

A. How Mental State Can Affect the Skin

There are various skin conditions that can be caused or worsened by stress or other negative emotions. Acne is one condition that can be caused by stress, hence why that big zit always seems to come at the most inconvenient times. Additionally, the disorder ‘alopecia areata’ (hair loss), along with rosacea, psoriasis, hives, and eczema can all fall under this category.

B. How Skin Can Affect Mental State

If you have a skin condition that causes feelings of stigmatization, it tends to result in feelings of unhappiness. You may feel ashamed, anxious, or experience low self-esteem. According to a study, more mental health disorders are diagnosed in people who have/had skin conditions, such as acne or rosacea.

C. What You Can Do

Everyone’s skin is different, which is why some people’s emotional stressors can be reflected in their skin while others may not. However, it is important to address both your mental and physical health when it comes to dealing with your skin.

1. Meditation

Practicing mindful techniques such as meditation and deep breathing exercises can greatly improve your overall mental well-being. Meditation helps you better deal with stress, promotes emotional health, improves sleep, and strengthens self-awareness. With these benefits, you’re likely to feel less emotional stress which will benefit your mental state and therefore your skin as a result.

2. Stick to a routine

The best way to see results is by being consistent. This includes getting a good night’s sleep each night, drinking plenty of water, and sticking to a skin-care routine. It’s important to find products that work for your skin type and incorporate them into a daily regimen. If you have sensitive skin, it’s crucial to use products that have a calming effect, without dyes or scents. If you have acne-prone skin, use anti-acne products along with makeup or moisturizers without silicones and other comedogenic ingredients.

3. Get moving

Being active is not only good for your physical well-being but your mental stamina as well. Exercise creates changes in the brain leading to neural growth and boosts your mood through the release of endorphins. If you have a skin condition, like eczema or acne, that is induced or worsened by stress, you may notice a change in your skin’s appearance as you relieve stress through exercise. As for our skin specifically, staying active will increase blood flow, which nourishes skin cells. It also helps carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

4. Be conscious about what you consume

Did you know that 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract? This means that what we consume can affect our mental health as well as our overall health. Eating a diet containing more clean and natural foods, while limiting your intake of processed items can make a drastic difference. Additionally, certain foods like dairy and citrus fruits can increase inflammation in the body worsening certain skin conditions.