Our new normal has definitely sunk in as we tick off day 13 of the lock-down today. Daily routines have been adapted and if you're working from home, your day might well be a bit of a juggling act, especially if you’ve got kids at home. In part two of our four-part series on stress and its impact on your skin, we are looking at how your skin's hydration is affected by stress and how we can keep your skin glowing during this time!
Most of us understand the negative impacts dehydration can have on our overall health, but may not realise the flow-on implications that dehydration has on our skin too.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DRYNESS & DEHYDRATION?
Dryness refers to a skin type and dehydration refers to a skin condition. Dry skin lacks oil because it produces less sebum than normal skin and the lack of sebum means the skin is without the lipids it needs to retain moisture and build a strong barrier to protect against external aggressors.
Dehydrated skin simply does not have enough water. Many external factors cause dehydration, but the most common ones are weather, environment, diet, and caffeine consumption. All of which can result in diminished water content within the skin. (Note: You can have an oily complexion but still have dehydrated skin too).
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY SKIN IS DEHYDRATED?
A good test is to pinch your cheek. If it's wrinkling with gentle pressure instead of holding its shape, your skin cells are desperate for water. Dehydrated skin will feel tight, look dull or rough and you may even notice more exaggerated wrinkles (or ones in places you don't remember having them), along with darker circles beneath your eyes.
Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies and it can show signs of stress in several different ways. Whenever our body feels it’s under stress, our fight-or-flight response kicks in. As a result, we experience a spike in adrenaline and cortisol. An increase in adrenaline can also cause us to sweat more activating the eccrine glands (the sweat glands), which can cause you to become dehydrated as you’re losing a lot more water. Acute psychological stress can stimulate a rapid increase in endogenous glucocorticoid (GC) levels; this stress response in the body directly impacts your skins natural balance of oil and sweat.
SO HOW CAN I KEEP MY SKIN HYDRATED?
Apart from the obvious, drinking plenty of water, below is our simple three-step guide to ensuring healthy and hydrated skin during the lock-down.
STEP ONE - EXFOLIATE
Exfoliating your skin at least once a week will not only help remove dead skin cells to reveal brighter-looking skin, it will also allow your serums and moisturisers to work better. As dead skin builds up, it acts as a barrier stopping the absorption of your other skincare products.
Our go-to is Environ’s Tri-Biobotanical Revival Masque. It’s one of our all-time favourite masques because it exfoliates as well as hydrates. This dual-action masque is often referred to as the “facelift in a jar.” The potent, but gentle blend of Asiatic, mandelic and lactic acids, helps to smooth the look of post-summer dullness, brightening an uneven skin tone.
Top tip: “For an extra hydrating boost, apply the mask, wait a few minutes and then apply a face oil over the top. This is a great anti-ageing, exfoliating and hydrating at-home treatment,” says Charmaine Moukarzel, About Face Clinic Manager.
STEP TWO – ALWAYS USE A SERUM IN YOUR ROUTINE
Simply put, serums are powerful skin allies and you can never have too many friends! Serums are filled with concentrated doses of active ingredients and can mitigate several skin issues, from dark spots to wrinkles. Serums should be applied after cleansing morning and night, before your moisturiser and there are limitless options for treating specific skin concerns with serums.
For hydration, the key ingredient to look for is Hyaluronic acid to seal in hydration and strengthen the barrier function (the top layer of your skin) to prevent moisture loss. One of our go-to's is Ultraceuticals Ultra B2 Hydrating Serum, which is enriched with potent levels of both D-Panthenol (Provitamin B5), anti-ageing Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) and Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid). This oil-free serum helps to support vital moisture balance and long-lasting hydration to the skin.
STEP THREE – INCREASE ESSENTIAL FATS IN YOUR DIET
They're called Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) for a reason - your body needs them! And it doesn't make EFAs on its own; you can only get them from foods you eat. Omega-3s and Omega-6s are the building blocks of healthy skin, helping to produce the skin's natural oil barrier, critical in keeping skin hydrated, plumper and younger-looking. You can boost your skins hydration with easy add-ins like walnuts, salmon, flax seeds and chia seeds. Although if you feel your skin needs some real TLC, or you’re not getting enough EFAs in your diet, then we recommend Advanced Nutrition Programmes Skin Omegas+. Like an internal moisturiser for the skin, these premium supplements will help to nourish dry skin from the inside out, giving your skin a luminous glow.
Managing stress is a multi-faceted effort and there isn’t one single method for treating stressed skin. Taking time to listen to your body and making an effort to recognise stress triggers is a great start, as well as being aware of how your body and skin is responding. This way you can invest in the right areas to combat the impact it’s having on you physically and come out of this period with healthier, hydrated and glowing skin!