The Missing Ingredient In the Beauty EQUATION

Are stress and lack of sleep secretly destroying your skin?

Question: who wants to have the best skin of their life right now and forever more? Kidding, that’s too easy. The better question would be, who doesn’t?

Skin is the largest organ in the body, and aside from wanting it to look great, it’s also incredibly important that we make the overall health of our skin a priority. Our skin is like our shield to external stressors and protects our internal organs. Without a healthy shield everything inside is at risk.

a woman looking over her shoulder

Unfortunately, those internal stressors; stress, fatigue, anxiety, and lack of sleep, can attack our skin from the inside, weakening that shield. In short, when we’re stressed on the inside, our skin is stressed on the outside.

Our skin is there to protect, and when it’s feeling attacked it reacts, which causes inflammation.

“Your body thinks it’s under attack, and it’s going to form all these inflammatory markers or inflammatory cells to help treat that attack.”
Dr. Forum Patel of Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City

When our body is under attack, it stimulates our fight or flight response. This results in a spike of adrenaline and cortisol – which can take a serious toll on everything from our mental state, to our gut health, to our skin appearance, causing a barrage of side effects including inflammation, bloating, puffiness, and break-outs.

a woman covers her eyes with her hands

“Stress stimulates the brain to produce a specific set of hormones that prepare the body for the stressful environment. As a side effect, these hormones rev up activity of sebaceous glands in the skin, leading to higher than normal levels of oil, blockages in the pores and acne breakouts.”
Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City

In addition to irritated, uneven, and inflamed skin, stress, and anxiety greatly impact our sleep-wake cycles. Lack of sleep and poor quality of sleep boast some of the worst affects on our skin, with dark circles being the least of our worries.

Sleep deprivation increases matrix metalloproteinases, which accelerates the breakdown of collagen and elastin – both of which are essential to skin integrity. Matrix metalloproteinases hastens the aging process by increasing wrinkles, decreasing skin thickness, inhibiting growth factors, and decreasing skin elasticity. Not to mention that lack of sleep increases stress hormones which keep us stuck in the vicious cycle.

So what can you do to end this cycle, and improve your mental wellness and sleep-wake cycles?

turbulent ocean water
  1. Implement a sacred morning and night routine:
    Starting off your day with an empowering ritual can vastly improve your mood and mindset right from the get-go. Including practices like meditation, affirmations, and journaling each morning can help you address and work through whatever stressors may be lurking from the previous day or night.

    When you implement a calming bedtime routine, you’re allowing yourself the time to release the weight of the day, and effectively unwind mentally, emotionally, and physically before you crawl into bed. We recommend disconnecting from technology 1-2 hours before you get into bed (this includes TV’s, phones, and computers). Take some time to stretch, have a bath, or a warm shower to physically relax your muscles, then try another meditation or journal writing session to let go of whatever mental or emotional gunk is still hanging on.

  2. Work it out:

    Engaging in a physical activity like running, tennis, yoga, or even walking can help you process negative emotions, as well as promote physical fatigue that can positively impact your ability to fall asleep. Choosing an activity that physically allows to to let go of mental anguish or puts you in a position to look at the challenges in life from an outside perspective can help you to subconsciously navigate the emotions and work through your stress and anxiety more effectively.

  3. Switch up the dialogue:

    When we’re feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or tired we tend to get stuck on repeat like a broken record, reminding ourselves and anyone who wants to listen how we’re feeling. This habit only serves to keep us stuck in a “rut”, and perpetuates the negative affects.  By changing the dialogue, we can subliminally transform our feeling about our feelings. 

    Next time you’re feeling stressed, try saying ‘I’m feeling innovative’ or ‘I am feeling productive’ or ‘I am feeling efficient’. When you’re feeling anxious try ‘I am feeling thrilled’ or ‘I am feeling energized’ or ‘I am feeling excited’. And, when you’re feeling depressed try ‘I am feeling compassionate’ or ‘I am feeling open’ or ‘I am feeling introspective’. 

    You can choose your own empowering synonyms for any negative emotion that seems to cling on for dear life, and when you shift the way you look at the emotion, the emotion changes.

4. Plant the seeds of internal support:
Supplement your daily routines with a vitamin that aids in reducing your stress, improving your skin health, and supporting healthy sleep-wake cycles like STUNN AM+PM.

Having internal support to aid in reducing anxious feelings, promoting a healthy stress response, and supporting calm and relaxation as well as an improved quality of sleep will vastly improve not only your mind and skin, but your overall life as well.

Our bodies are a beautiful, vibrant, force made up of complex interconnected relationships. If we want perfect skin, we can’t spot treat with one solution and expect comprehensive results. If we want real transformation, we need to look at ourselves as a whole, respect the synergistic relationships between our mind, bodies, and skin, and seek solutions that address all aspects of our inner selves. You can’t attain your outer beauty goals without treating your inner wellbeing as well.

Written by Ashleigh DePass, STUNN Collective co-founder

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