A while back I posted this fantastic New York Times article to my Instagram, because I felt like it covered everything I've been trying to tell you about skincare this whole time in a handy dandy easy to read fashion article.
I've been learning and talking about lifestyle factors and the microbiome and skin barrier for a long time, (well, ever since I started making skincare,) and while I'm not a scientist or a dermatologist, all of the people quoted in this article are, so maybe if you don't believe me, (have you noticed that I never talk about skincare here without mentioning diet and lifestyle factors?) you will believe them!
I wanted to share it here incase you missed it or wanted a refresher.
This is Your Skin on Stress: by Jessica DeFino (New York Times, Dec. 8, 2020)
Please click the link above to read it - if you don't have a subscription and/or are out of free articles for the month, here's a basic summary:
Chronic stress is harming our skin (causing acne, eczema, psoriasis, skin that's too oily or too dry, dullness, and premature aging - basically everything everyone comes to me wanting a product to fix,) because overproduction of the stress hormone, cortisol, depletes our skin's natural protective oils, which causes transepidermal water loss (dehydration,) which alters the skin's pH level, which disrupts the skin's acid mantle, which creates an inhospitable environment for the microbes on our skin which, under ideal conditions, are what should be keeping everything healthy and in balance. Stress also causes your body to produce internal free-radicals, which causes oxidative stress, which is what causes fine lines and wrinkles.
Most topical skincare made to counteract these effects is useless because it can't penetrate the lower levels of the dermis where collagen and hyaluronic acid occur. In fact, exposing a damaged skin barrier layer (the acid mantle) to too many products and active ingredients can (and do) make it worse.
Exceptions to this are products that boost the skin's barrier layer, (like the lipids and fatty acids found in my facial oils and butters.) It mentions to avoid essential oils if you have a damaged barrier layer. (I would recommend my essential oil free sensitive oil and butter - I specifically chose ingredients that have been studied and proven to repair the skin barrier layer for these products, by the way.)
But the very best thing you can do for skin that's out of balance is to manage your stress.
It then talks about things you can do that have been SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN to improve your skin that don't involve buying/using products or spending any money whatsoever. My favorite part is where a doctor is quoted as saying "THIS ISN'T BS."
Again, please read the article for all of the details. It also links to another article that talks more specifically about the skin barrier layer and pH levels, and how using too many products is actually harmful.
Basically, your skincare obsession isn't serving you. At all.
Is that a weird thing for someone who makes a living selling skincare to say? Probably. But I know that my products are different because they support your skin barrier without disrupting the microbiome. What can I say. I LOVE being right about this stuff.
In conclusion, I thought it'd be fun to just make a list of things you can do to actually help your skin here - both from the article, and from my own experience.
Again, this is not BS. Also, side note - I know all of these things are easier said than done. I also know that life is crazy hard right now. I also know that if you just try it - just pick one or two things that you can add to your day/week - you will notice a difference, which will make you feel better, which will make you want to take even better care of yourself. You just have to start somewhere. Also, if I, a self-employed lone parent homeschooling during a pandemic can do it, so can you. You can. Just try. Start with the first one maybe. And don't beat yourself up if you have trouble adding anything to your routine. Skin regenerates. Just try again tomorrow.
- Take a deep breath (repeat as needed)
- Get more sleep (this one is EVERYTHING, I know from experience)
- Meditate (doesn't have to be long - try 2 minutes to start - I do 5-10 per day)
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables (antioxidants fight free-radicals)
- Exercise (doesn't have to be a lot - I do anywhere between 5-20 minutes of yoga a day but I do it every single day because I know it makes a difference in my complexion. Also, like, for my soul too, obviously. LOL.)
- Get outside/in nature for a bit (wear SPF!)
- Have a cry (maybe temporarily unhelpful, but a great stress reliever)
- Drink a cup of tea (again, antioxidants)
- Eat healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, walnuts...)
- Have an orgasm
- Drink less alcohol
- Eat less sugar
(both sugar and alcohol cause inflammation and damage collagen)
- Have a laugh
- Practice self massage (foam rollers, foot rollers, facial rollers, hands, etc.)
I can keep going, but I'll stop there and open it up to you -
1) What is your favorite way to relieve stress? Leave a comment below for some group inspiration! (Sadly I cannot reply to comments on my blog but I will publish them for everyone to see!)
2) If you put anything from my list into practice please let me know if/when you notice a difference in your skin!
3) Questions? Feel free to email me. (Just remember, I am not actually a doctor or a scientist and I can't diagnose skin diseases.) ;)
I hope this is helpful!
- Stefanie -