Three countries, three quarantines and I can’t even remember how many house moves… it’s been a busy year. My skin (and my husband) always bear the brunt of my stress levels. So for this post I’m teaming up with Andy Boysan (BPharm), the co-founder and superintendent pharmacist of The Independent Pharmacy, one of the UK’s leading independent online pharmacies. Here he shares his tips for adapting your skincare for a major life change.
Whether you’re moving home, country, starting a new job or working differently under lockdown, read on…
Any big life changes such as relocating to a new country or starting a new job are bound to cause you stress and worry. While in the short term stress is a completely natural response that helps us to cope with difficult situations, in the long term it can have a noticeable impact on our physical and mental health. This often causes our skin to flare up with problems.
Here I’ll take a look at some of the best tips for looking after your skin and yourself ahead of a big change. Here are some top tips for managing stressed skin and adapting your skincare routine to a life change…
How does stress impact you?
Stress causes your body to release the stress hormone, cortisol, which triggers your fight or flight response. This makes your heart beat quicker, speeds up your breathing, and makes your muscles tense so that you’re able to respond quickly. If your stress levels stay elevated for too long it has an impact on your health.
Cortisol affects your immune system, so when it comes to your skin it can cause problems, it disrupts your skin’s normal balance, and slows down its healing process. Long-term stress can result in other physical symptoms like headaches and trouble sleeping, and also affects your mental health and can cause depression and anxiety. All of this can exacerbate any skin problems you’re experiencing.
How to treat stressed skin
Oilier skin and acne are common side effects of stress when you’re faced with a big life change. Once you start to break out it often causes more stress, which only makes the problem worse. So it’s important to know the best way to tackle spots when you’re stressed.
Avoid over-exfoliating your skin, using harsh products, or washing your face too frequently. Even when your skin feels oily it’s important not to dry it out, your body will overcompensate and end up producing more oil. And don’t be tempted to pick at any spots — this makes them worse and you could end up with scars.
Avoid over-exfoliating your skin, using harsh products, or washing your face too frequently.
Try to use lighter products that are oil-free and suitable for sensitive skin. And, when possible, try not to wear heavy makeup that can further clog your pores, especially if you are going to be wearing a face mask. Masks can cause acne flare-ups and make them worse, so it’s important to always put a clean mask on, and choose cotton reusable ones that are more breathable for your skin.
Use a gentle face wash or cleanser twice a day and look for acne treatments that contain some of the key ingredients for tackling blemishes such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
For long term acne, it’s usually worth looking at prescription treatments such as Duac gel. It contains two active ingredients that reduce bacteria on your skin and work to unclog pores. You need to have a good understanding of acne treatments like Duac before using them, so take a look at a reliable source like The Independent Pharmacy for information on how it works.
Hydrate your skin
When you’re stressed and your skin is suffering it’s important to focus on keeping it hydrated. To start with, make sure that you’re drinking enough water each day — it’s recommended to drink around two liters of water per day, which might seem like a lot, but it includes all drinks such as tea or coffee as well,
Hydrating your skin helps minimize the irritation, and if you’re wearing a mask then a good moisturizer can actually reduce some of the friction that causes spots. However, one of the best choices to hydrate problem skin when you’re stressed is hyaluronic acid serum.
It works by attracting moisture from the external environment to boost your skin’s hydration, which helps reduce redness and skin irritation. It’s also less likely to block your pores than heavy moisturizers.
Improve your diet and exercise
When you’re stressed-out healthy eating and exercise often get neglected. But it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re eating the right things and looking after your body. Try to include lots of fruit and vegetables in your diet instead of unhealthy snacks. Protein, carbohydrates, and antioxidant-rich foods like green leafy vegetables are all going to help boost your immune system and improve your skin.
Working out is also a great way to reduce your stress levels — it produces endorphins, which make you feel more positive. It also gives you something else to focus on and can improve your mental health and your sleeping, both of which will benefit your skin.
Meditation and mindfulness
Finding ways to relax before a big life change might be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep by establishing a relaxing routine that helps you switch off. Avoid looking at phone screens or electronic devices for at least an hour before you go to bed and try reading or meditating to unwind — a good night’s sleep is essential for managing stress and improving your skin.
Meditation and mindfulness techniques can help you to deal with your stress levels by refocusing your thoughts and getting a better perspective on the situation. If you don’t know where to start with meditation then there are many different apps such as Calm that offer guided meditation — you can read up on the best meditation apps in this review from Mindful.
In the lead up to a big life change, it’s important to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and look after your skin with the right products to minimize the effects of stress.
The Expater and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Expater is provided for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.