The short answer to the former question is, unsurprisingly, stress. But there are two types of stressors, external, and internal. And whilst I’m going to make this as little I-read-Web-MD-and-I-think-I-might-be-dying as possible, there are a couple things you may want to keep in mind when it comes to keeping your skin calm.
How do I know if my skin is stressed?
Let’s talk about external stressors first. The things we can see, smell and feel, or at least probably think about in relation to our skin health. Stressors such as UV radiation, artificial and natural blue light, air pollution, and air conditioning (or dry air) can all affect your complexion.
We know that spending too much time in the sun can increase the free radicals rummaging around your skin cells for molecules to steal, and I think we can all agree that sunburn, tanning, and melasma/freckles count as skin undergoing stress. Blue light, which we most commonly associate with screens, also comes down from the sun accompanying those UVA and UVB rays. With the current research it’s not so much a case of ‘your phone is giving you cancer’, but significant blue light exposure might increase hyperpigmentation, and potentially aid the photoaging process.
Unfortunately, for many of us, especially in cities, air pollution is a real issue with some tangible effects on your skin. Whilst particles like dust are too large to penetrate the skin and cause deeper issues, the chemicals which are associated are not. Cigarette smoke, for example, is particularly harmful, along with diesel exhaust and volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) which can be produced from burning gasoline, coal and even natural gas. When air pollution gets worse, more of us experience acne, eczema, and other dry or itchy skin conditions. And those of us already experiencing these skin concerns are going to find it much harder to remedy.
We also see that air pollution can reduce the effectiveness of your skin barrier, which leaves you open to more irritants and less moisture.
But what about internal stress? Short term, a little burst of panic might induce redness or itchiness, but if you are experiencing frequent or long term stress, you’ll start to experience symptoms like increased heart rate, and the rise in release of a hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol increases your blood sugar, and that in turn increases the process of glycation, where sugar molecules attach themselves to proteins in our skin like collagen and elastin, ruining their ability to keep us feeling supple and youthful. It also tells your sebaceous glands (where our sebum/oil is produced) to amp up production.
Other hormones aren’t always our friends either, so any mystery skin stress may be able to be attributed to specific medication, pregnancy, and the current point of your menstrual cycle.
You’ve probably gotten the gist so far that stressed skin can be very dehydrated, and exacerbate your existing conditions. Other side effects you might experience are redness, including inflammation and swelling, sensitivity (your skin might suddenly dislike your usual products), dry and scaly patches of skin, and signs of ageing like wrinkles and loss of elasticity.
What can I do to remedy stressed skin?
There’s a silver lining to this blog, I promise. It’s not terribly hard to combat the effects of stressed skin, so long as you invest in your overall health. Before talking about products, one of the best things you can do is to reduce internal stress, the one you have a little more control over. Meditation, seven to nine hours of sleep per night, regular exercise and reducing screen time can all be beneficial to lowering our stress levels, and cortisol affecting our blood sugar and sebum production, with plenty of water keeping you hydrated through it all. And if you don’t already, double cleanse at the end of the day to wash away the day’s metaphorical and physical grit! We all have our methods, so if you’ve been unhappy with the quality of your skin recently, it’s probably time to be a bit more mindful of your downtime.
Once that side of things are taken care of, what ingredients are going to help physically reduce the discomfort of stressed skin?
Niacinamide! This ingredient is going to be your best friend in this fight, as it can help both sides of the stress coin. It is an anti-inflammatory, and paired with aloe vera in our Niacinamide Daily Toner, soothes your skin both in cooling redness and reducing (no surprises) inflammation. Hyaluronic Acid also benefits dehydrated skin, giving you a deep hydration which boosts your natural moisture retention for long lasting effects. In this format, you’re also cleaning away dirt, dust and the excess oils from that increased sebum production.
An antioxidant (read why these are so important in your routine here), you’ll be getting UV repair benefits, and improves the health of your natural skin barrier for stronger, more resilient skin. Plus, Niacinamide helps to minimise pore size and brighten your complexion.
Trust me, you cannot go wrong with this product!
Following on, using a Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum is going to tackle dehydrated skin with enthusiasm. Rather than moisturising the top layers of skin, this molecule draws moisture past your epidermis to make sure its benefiting your overall skin health. This hydration is going to help speed up recovery from UV damage, and isn’t going to upset your skin if you’re both dry and acne prone. Just make sure you're applying this ingredient correctly!
Worried about photoaging and glycation? There’s no better way to rebuild collagen levels than with peptides, which signal to the body to get into production mode! Our Peptide Facial Serum combines this anti-aging power with hyaluronic acid to keep everything well and truly hydrated.
Seal it all in with a moisturiser that will protect the moisture from being lost through the layers of your skin, and build up your natural skin barrier. Our Collagen Face Cream is gorgeously thick, with the same peptide as in our serum to lift and tone your face overnight, and nourishing shea butter. The inclusion of Magnesium PCA boosts circulation, refreshing your skin and delivering skin-repairing molecules faster to the places you need it.
Alternatively, go for a moisturiser that has antioxidant and redness reducing abilities to boast about. Oh, did someone say Ginger Root Daily Moisturiser? This cream is going to fight any angry blemishes, and get to work repairing UV damage. Ginger root is well loved for being able to even out your complexion, and generally boosting overall skin health for a summer glow that doesn’t rely on a damaging tan.
So it’s not all so bad as it seems, so long as we take good care of ourselves!
Amy @ Team Q+A
Aspiring author, craft addict, and Q+A's eCommerce Coordinator