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Stress is universal. It can be acute and also chronic leading to inflammation wreaking havoc on all systems of our bodies.
Dominated by hormones; the way our bodies respond to stress can look different to everyone. But since stress essentially ticks our immune system into gear, it can also cause flare ups of autoimmune conditions like eczema and dermatitis.
Although sometimes unavoidable; our external environment including pollution, UV rays and adequate air temperature can add insult to inflammation causing oxidative stress.
Holistically managing stress and our skin’s reaction to stressors, can be treated internally as well as externally with some simple but effective changes.
Think of antioxidants as super cleaners deployed by our bodies to clean up the cells causing oxidative stress. These powerhouses are protective and preventive and can be found concentrated in serums and oils.
Hyperpigmentation is directly linked to oxidative damage of our cells. Products with high antioxidant quantities such as Vitamin C are active in correcting these dark spots left behind by acne and sun damage. Vitamin C is also key in facilitating the synthesis of collagen and elastin. Furthermore, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), helps to combat and prevent acne.
Speaking of the sun…
In its active form of calcitriol; Vitamin D is an antioxidant and is involved in skin growth and repair. 10 minutes of sun exposure is the best way to obtain Vitamin D. This doesn’t have to be on your face if you’re not so inclined! It can be on arms, legs and palms! However, a UV rating higher than 3 requires sun protection like a hat and/or a broad-spectrum SPF to prevent skin damage.
When our skin is stressed and inflamed, calming down the situation rather than attacking it with heavy doses of astringent, detoxifying products although can be tempting, can rather anger the skin further. Switching to a gentle cleanser, or an oil cleanser can be effective by repairing, restoring and protecting the skin’s lipid layer and balancing its pH. Light weight moisturisers used during the day, can lock in hydration and provide a barrier protection from external stressors.
Temperature can also exacerbate inflamed skin. Too warm environments signal our bodies to sweat in order to cool down. Excessive sweat can also contribute to congestion. And ironically, can lead to dryness. Turn down the heating and wear breathable fabrics when possible.
High in essential fatty acids; nuts and seeds like almond, flax, hemp seeds and pecan not only promote healthy skin and hair, but also support thyroid and adrenal function. These organs are crucial in stress management and also immune support. Easy to add to smoothies!
Foods rich in vitamin A and beta carotene and antioxidants can be found in– carrots, pumpkin, chard and beet greens and berries. And In traditional Chinese medicine, chlorophyll rich foods (leafy greens), help to purify the blood of toxins causing inflammatory eruptions.
Stressed skin can be stressful, but there are tools to load your arsenal, so you don’t have to look like you’re melting down when you’re in fact…melting down.
Bone, K., & Mills, S. (2013). Principles and practice of phytotherapy : modern herbal medicine (2nd ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences UK. //ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.laureate.net.au/lib/think/detail.action?docID=1723553.
Bowe, W. P., & Logan, A. C. (2011). Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future? Gut Pathogens, 3(1), 1–11. //doi.org/10.1186/1757-4749-3-1
Norman, R. A., Shenefelt, P. D., & Rupani, R. N. (Eds.). (2014). Integrative dermatology (Ser. Integrative medicine library). Oxford University Press. //web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.laureate.net.au/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzY4ODE3MF9fQU41?sid=c7b66756-d81d-407b-8615-f8def1d95d0c@pdc-v-sessmgr04&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1
Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with whole foods : asian traditions and modern nutrition (3rd ed., rev., updated, and expanded). North Atlantic Books.
Whitney, E., Rolfes, S. R., Crowe, T., & Walsh, A. (2019). Understanding nutrition (4th ed.). Cengage. //ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.laureate.net.au/lib/think/reader.action?docID=5024519
Cancer Council. (2016). How much sun is enough? Retrieved from //www.cancer.org.au/media-releases/2016/how-much-sun-is-enough