Stress plays a major part in the health of our body and of our skin. At times of stress our body produces excessive amounts of cortisol which is responsible for a variety of concerns including anxiety, weight gain and sleep disturbances. Aside from the adrenal glands producing cortisol, keratinocytes in the epidermis, the outer cell layers of skin, also manufacture cortisol which increases when the body is stressed or when skin is exposed to external stressors such as pollution, UV radiation and dehydration. Stress in this case refers to physical, emotive or environmental stressors.
Since cortisol is an inflammatory hormone, it is known to cause a wide range of skin concerns and depending upon your skin type, cortisol can make your skin very dry, wrinkled, fatigue-looking, reactive and sensitive, oily and/or acne-prone. I am going to briefly discuss skin concerns:
Stress is by far the single biggest causal factor for ageing skin and can affect the health and appearance of skin. During stress, skin cells in the epidermis produce large quantities of cortisol which results in elevated sugar levels in the bloodstream. Sugar levels are normally kept within finite levels and so the body metabolises sugars which results in by-products called Advanced Glycation Endproducts, (AGEs), which cause the destruction of both collagen and elastin as well as the hardening of the collagen matrix. These effects result in the loss of elasticity of skin as well as encouraging the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Dark under eye circles and eye wrinkles
Stressed skin around the eye tissues may arise as a result of emotive stress within the body or due to exposure to UV radiation and/or visible blue light created by the over-use of devices many of us are glued to, such as mobile phones. Whatever the causal factor, the increase in cortisol breaks down the thin tissues surrounding the eyes making the tiny blood vessels more visible and of course being inflammatory in nature encouraging fine eyes lines and eye wrinkles.
Dry and dehydrated skin
The outer layers of your skin protect you from bacteria and prevent skin from dehydration. High levels of cortisol, whether due to pollution, UV radiation or other factors, break down the ceramides between skin cells which allows the loss of water resulting in dehydration. Additionally, cortisol hinders the production of hyaluronic acid, a compound that holds hundreds of times of its weight in water helping to plump our skin cells.
Dehydration causes the skin to look dull and skin loses its plumpness. Dehydration may also result in inflammation which is not desirable since this can affect the collagen matrix resulting in the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
The link between stress and acne is well documented since stress is known to either cause or exacerbate acne breakouts. The increased cortisol from hormonal imbalances, pollution and other external aggressions results in inflammation of the sebaceous glands causing them to over-produce sebum. This increased sebum can clog pores allowing the acne-causing bacteria to thrive with the results of acne-prone skin. Typically, this type of acne shows up around the mouth and the chin area.
Sensitive and reactive skin
Have you ever noticed that when you are under stress, you can get irritated very quickly? Likewise stressed skin, with its increased levels of cortisol, can make your skin more prone to rashes and can result in skin sensitivity and reactivity to products which you normally have not reacted to in the past.
How to reduce cortisol in skin
There are many causal factors for stressed skin, some which we cannot control such as pollution and hormonal stress, whilst others we can try to limit such as UV radiation and visible blue light exposure.
Sleep plays a major part in limiting cortisol levels in skin. When we sleep, our skin repairs all the damage that has occurred during the daytime. A lack of sleep can create stressed skin and this often shows up, so try to have at least seven hours of sleep. Supplements for sleep may be an option to consider.
Relaxation can be important in reducing the amount of cortisol produced by the body and by the skin. Meditation, deep breathing and massage may be options worth considering; supplements such as Magnolia Rhodiola Complex can help to reduce cortisol in the whole body.
A face serum for every skin type
Through evolution, the brain and skin are derived from the same tissue and work in tandem to synchronise external and internal danger signals through a series of complex chemical and hormonal interactions. At times of stress, the body produces excess cortisol and other hormones in order to fight or flight from the stressor. Since the body cannot sustain this reaction for long periods of time, there is a built-in mechanism to restore balance, but this does not always occur because in many instances the stressors are constant with the result of what is termed “adrenal fatigue” causing the symptoms of anxiety and fatigue.
In the case of skin, the skin cells produce cortisol as a result of stressors, which include pollution, mechanical aggressions, chemical exposure, smoke, UV exposure, sleep deprivation and of course emotive stress whether due to hormonal imbalances or otherwise. Skin unfortunately does not have the body’s built-in mechanism to restore balance. The result is constant production of cortisol within skin which is the major reason for accelerated ageing as well as acne, reactive skin, sensitive skin, dry skin, dehydrated skin, skin reactions, dark under-eye circles and fine lines.
Neurophroline™ is a unique bioactive cosmetic ingredient belonging to Givaudan, a group of companies in Switzerland. This exclusive and sustainable extract is derived from Wild Indigo, Tephrosia purpurea, a native Indian plant used for its skin benefits.
In studies, Neurophroline™ serum was shown to:
- Work quickly, within a few hours, to reduce cortisol production by almost 70%
- Enhanced the markers for iron and heavy metal detoxification which improved appearance of dark circles
- Enhanced anti-inflammatory markers to comfort skin and ease sensitivity
- Significantly enhanced skin luminosity, clarity and a reduction in skin redness; a hero anti-ageing serum
Neurophroline™ Serum by Garden of Wisdom contains the hero ingredient, Neurophroline™, together with two types of hyaluronic acid including super low molecular weight hyaluronic acid to deliver this active to the skin cells within the epidermis. Apple polyphenols and all-trans resveratrol are both powerful antioxidants that may help shield skin from environmental pollutants and UV rays. This face serum is not just an anti-ageing serum and almost all skin types would benefit from its usage.