Updated: Dec 29, 2021
Unravel the connection between stress and ageing
12 months of this pandemic has felt like 10 years of aging all rolled into one. On an emotional level, dealing with prolonged stress certainly feels like getting old, and stress-induced physical fatigue is more than just a trick of the mind.
Long-term stress usually harms well-being: linked to weakened immunity, poor hormonal control, and age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease. In addition, skin researchers are discovering how stress has a huge impact on the skin, exacerbating certain skin conditions and even increasing the risk of glycation in the skin: accelerating aging processes.
Our previous blog Stressed out? Look inwards. (ultra-figure.co.uk) explains how the gut’s response to stress impacts the skin, but stress affects the body in innumerable other ways. Every aspect of our physical and mental health can be affected by stress the complex connections within the body result in a myriad of intertwined answers. The
complex hormonal response triggered by stress has a dramatic impact on the skin, both directly and indirectly - and understanding the all-encompassing role of stress is critical to addressing the problem.
Soothing the mind in a holistic approach can help problematic skin. Self-care is essential for calming frantic minds, and clients seeing stress reactions in the skin require targeted solutions.
When good stress turns bad
When we are stressed, the body triggers adrenaline and cortisol, which are two vital stress hormones. This then alters the skin cell growth, which can increase sebum production, increase inflammation and break down the immunity of the skin. These are generally known as “fight or flight” hormones. They prime the body to respond to, and recover from, stressful situations. In the short term they can improve alertness, performance and memory.
Stress is only damaging when it is out of control. Chronic stress, caused by ongoing stressful situations, has a detrimental impact on the whole body: including on the skin. Cardiovascular irregularities, diabetes, obesity and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can all be exacerbated or triggered in part by chronic stress, as can insomnia and mental health issues.
One example is cortisol. When levels are too high for too long because of stress, it has an inflammatory effect - linked to chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or asthma, and skin conditions including acne, eczema and psoriasis.
All hormones are closely intertwined. If one hormone level is out of sync then there will be a ripple effect with all others and the whole body, including the skin, will be impacted in innumerable ways. Research also suggests stress related hormonal fluctuations can accelerate skin ageing processes.
Lets talk science
Collagen depletion is a well-known concern for ageing skin. Cortisol’s (the main stress hormone) and other factors such as UV damage, smoking and free radical damage, promotes the damaging occurrence of glycation in the skin. Glycation occurs when a sugar molecule bonds with a protein (for example collagen), creating a new, differently shaped molecule. As the number of these distorted molecules accumulates, skin structure is disrupted. This results in a loss of elasticity and causes fine lines and wrinkles.
The higher the amount of sugar in the blood, the more likely glycation is to occur. When cortisol is released, it inhibits insulin and releases sugar and fat into the blood for use as energy. In a short term stress response, this energy is used up and blood sugar levels return to normal. However, when cortisol levels remain consistently high due to chronic stress, so do levels of sugar within the blood, and there is less insulin available to reset the balance. As a result, the increased number of sugar molecules are vulnerable to glycation, making the process more likely to occur in the skin.
Stress also impacts on the brain, as cortisol triggers cravings for high fat, high sugar food – adding to the already increased amount of sugar in the blood. Managing diet, and particularly reducing sugar intake is important priority for clients experiencing chronic stress, to protect collagen from glycation.
To further support collagen, vitamins A and C are essentials in a client’s anti-stress routine both topically and as dietary focuses. Both these vitamins help to support normal collagen production and maintain collagen health. Vitamin A helps repair skin cell DNA, encouraging normalised skin cells. Vitamin C plays a important role in diminishing the effects of free-radical damage, slow down photo-ageing.
KEY INGREDIENT TECHNOLOGIES:
• Vitamin C has been consistently proven and recognised as skin supporting by both the nutritional and skincare industries–it helps support normal collagen production
• Zinc is packed with properties to support our skin, hair and nails, and is also revered for its antioxidant protection.
• Acerola berry is an exciting addition to our ingredient library as it boasts rich nutrient values with recent research explaining that it is “one of the best fruits rich in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and polyphenols”. In fact it features 50-100 times more vitamin C than oranges or lemons. Emerging studies have also reported potential benefits on UVB induced pigmentation.
In addition to vitamin C and zinc, Skin Collagen Support also features the following:
• Grapeseed Extract which strengthens and prevents collagen from breaking down.
• MSM helps make keratin which is one of the key structural components of skin, hair, and nails.
• French Melon Extract which is high in super antioxidant SOD(Super Oxide Dismutase)
• Brighten dull-looking skin
• Support normal blood vessels
• Protect cells from oxidative stress
• Support collagen formation
• Plumps and smoothes skin
• Supports skin health