Tips for when your skin just can’t even.
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Stress is like that guest you just cannot get out of your house. You know the ones – where three days turns into three weeks. Well, like said guests, you can’t avoid stress altogether (especially at a time like this) but you can deal with it when it starts to become overwhelming.
At present, we’re all dealing with a low level (but persistent!) hum of stress in our day-to-day lives. You may not have even noticed you were stressed. That is, until your skin had a meltdown to rival that of Britney Spears, circa 2007. At this time of uncertainty and anxiety, skin flare up are far more common than usual. We’re experiencing breakouts in places we never have before, rashes for no particular reason and dryness, everywhere.
Sound familiar? To better understand stress and how we can manage it, we spoke to skin gurus Joanna Newham, of Joanna Newham Skin Health and Carmen McNamara of The Skin Fairy, who gave us a rundown of how to manage our skin when it all gets too much.
First, Find The Why
It’s very hard to solve a problem without first finding the underlying cause; truth be told, breakouts and stressed-out skin are often triggered by an unbalanced gut.
“When you’re stressed, you go into fight-or-flight mode which stimulates the cortisol levels within your body,” says McNamara. “Cortisol is a hormone that causes inflammation because it stimulates your sebaceous glands.”
These glands produce the oil in our skin. When they become overactive and produce too much oil, breakouts can occur. Overactive sebaceous glands can also cause inflammation in the gut, which can then cause skin irritation in the forms of psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis.
Newham stresses the importance of paying attention to the gut (aka – the matriarch of the body) before anything else. “Often, when we are under a huge amount of stress, our gut is the one that feels it the most. This is because hormones, the gut and your overall wellbeing all work hand in hand and feed into one another. If one is off balance, the other’s will naturally suffer.”
Then, Start From The Inside
Before dropping a few hundred dollars on lotions and potions from MECCA, Newham recommends addressing your lifestyle first. Ask yourself, how are you feeling (think: energy levels, bloating, fatigue) and how can you address your stress levels? Could you go to bed earlier? Incorporate an afternoon walk at 3pm? Call your mum more often?
You could also consider a supplement to support your gut. “To manage your skin internally I would definitely recommend taking a really good probiotic. Ideally, something practitioner-grade like Metagenics or Bioceuticals,” recommends Newham. For a daily dose of pre- and probiotics, Gritty Pretty loves The Beauty Chef Glow Powder and Edible Beauty Gut Replenish Powder.
“I would then also definitely recommend a Vitamin B complex for women. Not only because most women are Vitamin B12 deficient, but also because it is great for balancing out our energy levels, nervous system and overall mood.”
McNamara also stresses the importance of essential fatty acids (such as your omega 3s, 6s and 9s) as they are great for regulating inflammation and stabilising hormone production as well as zinc for it’s all-rounder properties. “Zinc is amazing. And for so much! Inflammation, hair, skin, nails – zinc, zinc, zinc. I would recommend you take one zinc in the morning with food and trial it for three months. I swear by it.”
And Now, Treat The Skin Itself
Don’t worry, we won’t leave you out in the cold with a volcano-sized breakout and nothing to treat it with. While it’s important to get to the crux of the issue, we also know that you want to feel confident in your own skin and manage the issue topically. We get it.
Newham recommends using a spot treatment to nix breakouts; that way, you won’t risk drying out the rest of the skin. “You can use something as simple as Witchhazel, but I also like either a salicylic acid or bentonite clay to pop on top.”
Our favourite salicylic acids come in the form of the cult-classic Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($27) and the Ren Clean Skincare ClearCalm Non-Drying Spot Treatment ($31) – both are great for extracting puss and moisture from the hair follicle and hence, reducing the size of the breakout. Thank us later.
Newham also recommends staying away from retinol or anything with high amounts of active ingredients if the skin is inflamed and sensitive. Instead, she suggests opting for an antioxidant serum. These are great for fighting inflammation and soothing the skin; antioxidants protect against external factors, including pollution, stress and high cortisol levels.
Newham recommends a vitamin B serum, in particular, as these are great at repairing the skin barrier and replenishing moisture levels. The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum ($9.90) and Drunk Elephant’s B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum ($77) are both great options.
McNamara’s biggest piece of advice? Less is more. It’s important to tread lightly around your skin at this time. Drink water, keep your skincare simple and make sure you’re taking care of yourself. From the inside, out.
Do you have a tip for how to solve stressed skin issues? Leave us a comment down below.
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