The past year has certainly been a challenging one. Regardless of who you are, where you live, or what you do for a job, it’s likely that COVID-19 has majorly impacted your day-to-day. Then there are the emotional repercussions of living through an uncertain and scary time. Extreme stress, as many of us are feeling now, takes a physical and mental toll on one’s well-being. For many, the anxiety they feel is visible when they look in the mirror: stress is known to have a negative impact on skin.
For millennia, folks have been aware that the negative emotions associated with stress can coincide with skin problems, but only in modern day have we learned more about why that happens. As it turns out, when a person feels stress, their body releases certain hormones: epinephrine, glucocorticoids, and CRH. When that happens, the body reacts in a number of ways to adapt — and sometimes this lead to changes in the skin.
Impacts of Pandemic Stress on Skin
High stress situations can affect facial skin as well as the rest of your body in many ways, but there are a few tell-tale stress signals that tend to crop up. There are also longer-term skin issues that can result from ongoing stressors, such as a months or years long pandemic. Some of the most common stress-related skin issues include:
A stressed body often undergoes a change in proteins, which has a major impact on skin elasticity. Eventually, less-elastic skin is more likely to form wrinkles. High-stress situations can also lead to more frowning or brow-furrowing, which are known to leave mouth and forehead wrinkles.
Under Eye Bags
Often the main feature of “looking tired,” bags under the eyes are a common side effect of stress. Though part of this can also be blamed on elasticity loss, the main culprit for puffiness or under eye bags is usually exhaustion. Many people have found themselves up all night worrying — about their health, their finances, their loved ones — and it’s made an impact on their eyes.
Thought you left stress acne behind with term papers and school dances? Unfortunately, the overwhelm and uncertainty associated with the last year has changed that: due to an overproduction of cortisol, the stress hormone, many adults dealt with acne outbreaks. Increased mask use has also led to the new issue of “mascne,” or acne related to facial coverings.
Studies have shown that high levels of stress have a negative impact on the stratum corneum. This is the outer skin layer which helps to maintain dermal hydration levels.
Often, anxiety and stress cause folks to engage in nervous habits, like biting one’s nails or lips. In the case of the latter, this can lead to cut or dried lips.
Occasionally, a person under a lot of stress might find that they’ve broken out in hives or another rash. Often, this is because their extreme anxiety has caused their immune system to weaken and become susceptible to a bacterial imbalance called dysbiosis. This often leads to a rash or blotches. Folks with preexisting skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis might also find that their stress causes a flare-up.
Are There Ways to Prevent Facial Aging During a Stressful Time?
Absolutely. We know that the past year has been truly horrifying for many of us, and that some levels of stress are simply unavoidable. That being said, we have a few suggestions.
Practice Self Care
A night with your favorite movie, a face mask, and a DIY mani-pedi can do wonders for the soul. Perhaps a hike in nature or some retail therapy is more your style. Whatever it is you choose, we urge you: take time for yourself. It’s crucial.
Make a Cozy Space for Sleep
If you are having trouble sleeping, it might be helpful to engage in some sleep hygiene techniques, like shutting screens off before bedtime, investing in blackout curtains or an eye mask, or trying a white noise machine.
Create New Routines
Routine and stability are key to establishing a sense of normalcy in a world where everything feels turned upside-down. Create new rituals to ground yourself and make space away from screens. A new skincare routine can bookend your day and help stave off the impacts of stress; setting and keeping up with a daily water goal will help you stay hydrated; or instituting a daily walk can improve your mood and add exercise to your life.
Keeping hydrated will give your skin the nourishment it needs. Be sure to drink enough water daily, even when the weather isn’t hot or dry.
Exercise is great for stress! Whether you choose to go for a jog, try an online yoga class, or go hiking, your skin and body will thank you!
There’s no reason to suffer in silence. If you are struggling with the effects of the pandemic, reach out to a friend, family member, or local helpline.
How Can I Bring a Pre-COVID Glow Back to My Face?
If a new skincare routine and hydration aren’t doing it for you, there are a host of minimally-invasive aesthetic treatments that have long been popular for their ability to treat wrinkles and restore volume and smoothness to the face.
Fillers and injectables like Botox® may not be a literal “reset” button, but they can feel pretty darn close. This is due to the fantastic and consistent results they produce, as well as how quick and easy the procedure is. As the results of this treatment only last around three months, it is also a low-commitment procedure.
The way this treatment works is simple: your physician will inject Botox into the muscle underneath your skin. This causes the muscles to relax, which leads your wrinkles to do the same. The entire process only takes about a half hour, and requires no recovery time: Botox is so simple, it can be squeezed into your lunch hour — that is, if you still were making the trip to an office.
We wish we had a magic button which could end this pandemic and restore all our skin to it’s pre-COVID glory. Until that’s possible, know that you have options like injectables, fillers, and Botox. For more information on how Botox can bring that pre-pandemic youthfulness back to your face, learn more here today.