Have your found yourself looking in the mirror lately (or staring at yourself on the zoom calls) and feel like you look way more exhausted than normal (aka puffy, dark circles, or even a greyish tone to the skin). Well, you're not alone, most people are noticing their complexions are looking a little lacklustre of late.
And there's a perfectly normal reason why - and a perfectly easy solution.
How stress makes your skin appear duller and hence more tired.
We equate dull, sagging skin with being tired or worn out. Why do we inherently make this connection? Because there's something biological to it: The relationship between stress and skin health is a well-researched one. In acne-prone individuals, stress triggers breakouts. For those with sensitive skin, it can cause inflammation and rashes.
And just generally, stress causes your skin to look tired. Here's why: The onset of stress triggers the fight-or-flight response. As more circulation is diverted to other organs, such as the heart, brain, and lungs, blood flow is taken away from your skin. When this happens, your skin cannot produce collagen as effectively—resulting in less plump, bright-looking skin. We all know collagen is what makes skin look glowy and plump and less collagen is produced in high-stress states since more of the body's resources are used to combat stress and the inflammation it produces. Not to mention over time, chronic stress (you know, during a global pandemic) can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress further depletes our collagen levels and contributes to premature ageing.
What can you do about stress-induced collagen loss?
We can't always control our stress levels (there are, of course, plenty of stress-reducing techniques you can and should try such as yoga, meditation, walking), but we can support our body's internal collagen production.
1. Facial massage
Massage can stimulate collagen production and strengthen muscle memory (hello contours!). Facial muscles are crucial to the way we look and with regular stimulation can lift, tone and tighten the skin, boost blood circulation and collagen production giving a fresh youthful appearance to the skin. Build upwards massage movement into your daily routine when applying products.
2. Eat for bouncier skin
It's not all about lotions and potions, after all beauty does begin on the inside. Vitamin C plays a role in the production of collagen, and works to reduce oxidative damage therefore getting enough is critical to healthy skin. So munch on foods like broccoli, spinach, berries and kiwi fruits. Easy, eh?
3. Quit smoking (and sugar!)
Smoking can kill off collagen as it ages the skin by eating away at proteins, thereby restricting blood flow, resulting in dry, leathery and wrinkled skin around the lips and eyes. Unfortunately sugar can have the same effect. Sugar can permanently attach to collagen. When collagen is weighed down by glucose it becomes rigid and inflexible, resulting in dull, dry and ageing skin. (Learn about how to beat the sugar cravings here).
4. Say hello to hydration
Keeping your skin hydrated with water, plant foods and hydrating skin care is possibly the easiest way to boost collagen. The more hydrated your skin is, the better environment it gives for collagen and elastin [essentially skin's pliability protein] to thrive.
If your skin has been losing vibrancy lately, it's because stress triggers collagen loss and can lead to slower collagen production over time. If your goal is healthy, firm, glowing skin, then keeping healthy collagen levels is vital.