Our bodies are programmed to release a surge of hormones, including cortisol, to combat stress. With all the stresses of modern life, most of us are running around with too much cortisol circulating through our bloodstreams. But too much cortisol results in reduced immunity, difficulty digesting, and premature ageing. Cortisol triggers inflammation resulting in thin skin, fine lines and dryness. Inflammation breaks down collagen which keeps the skin plump, smooth and firm. Your stress and anxiety can be causing wrinkles, blemishes and blotchy skin. Cortisol tells our oil glands to produce more sebum, leading to breakouts. Stress also dilates blood vessels causing redness. Skin Solutions: 1. Breakout busters: If your skin reacts to stress with breakouts, keep your skin clean and exfoliate to help unplug your pores. I prefer products with lactic acid because it removes dead skin cells while hydrating the skin. Gritty exfoliants can cause worsening of redness. Products with salicylic acid can help spot treat blemishes. If this is not enough, a visit to the office for prescription strength creams and treatments to help. An antioxidant rich gylcolic peel followed by LED or blue light treatment will help reduce acne promoting bacteria without causing dryness. 2. Dryness Relief: If you skin becomes dry, flaky, red and sensitive, try products with ceramides and hyaluronic aid. I recommend Skinceuticals B5 Gel to reduce dryness. 3. Wrinkle Repair: Fight sallow skin and fine lines, consider using antioxidants ro fight against free radicals and environmental factors. I recommend products with Vitamin C like Skinceuticals CE Ferrulic Acid. Fractionated laser treatments can also brighten dull skin and improve collagen production. And NEVER forget your sunscreen. 4. Lifestyle Changes: What can we do to help reduce cortisol and enhance our youthful glow:
- Know your triggers: Understand your triggers and create a plan to deal with them
- Nature is nurturing: Studies have shown that people that spend time in green space have lower cortisol levels than those that do not. Even if it is for 5 minutes, nature can nurture the soul and the body.
- Just say ‘OM’: Meditation is good for the mind and soul. Try to find some time to reflect and think without interruption to clear your mind and slow you down.
- Superfoods: Dark colored greens like spinach, broccoli, and fruits rich in Vitamin C, like berries and oranges, can send cortisol levels plummeting because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. To increase collagen production, eat whole grains and foods rich in amino acids, like beans, seeds, and fish.
- Get your zzzz’s: Not getting enough sleep increases your cortisol production. A minimum of 8 hours of sleep and napping helps restore your body’s hormone levels.
- Music to your ears: Intrumental and meditative music are optimal for cortisol reduction but any music that makes you happy can combat cortisol levels.
- Massage: Relaxing and having a massage regularly will reduce cortisol levels and enhance immunity.