Life can feel like a rollercoaster in the best of times, so needless to say we've all been experiencing ups and downs the past few months. With these constantly shifting energies, it’s important to ask yourself this question: What is stress doing to my skin?
Your Skin: The Frontline of Your Immune System
We’re not talking about fine lines, or premature aging; we’re talking about how stress can weaken the skin’s barrier function, dampen immune response, and increase your susceptibility to pathogens. As your largest organ and initial interface with the environment, the skin has been studied as an “immediate stress perceiver,” an organ that’s responsible for initiating immune responses to keep you safe.
photo credit: @mytinylagunakitchen
Acute Vs Chronic Stress
Yet not all stress weakens the skin’s immunity. In a study by The New York Academy of Sciences, researchers found that acute stress enhanced skin immunity while chronic stress suppressed it. Results suggest that acute stress acts like a beneficial surveillance system for the skin’s immune system.
While acute stress presents itself as a short-term release of hormones that fluctuates throughout the day, chronic stress disrupts this rhythm. The result: skin that struggles to keep hydration in and impurities out.
Healing From The Inside Out
Ever noticed how stressful periods of life tend to coincide with feeling run-down? It’s because chronic stress simply is a wet blanket for whole-body health. You can’t avoid the stress of your reality, but you can improve how you adapt.
The mind is your tool for stress adaptation, and a powerful one at that. Breathwork and meditative practices are like a cool-down for your nervous system, letting your body know it can relax. A recent study on the matter stated that “mindfulness meditation practice primarily leads to reductions in ruminative thinking” and may even alter the brain’s structure with repeated practice.
While controversy on the topic remains, there is no doubt a daily practice like this can help shift mindset when it comes to how we view stressful aspects of our lives. It’s in this space that we give not only our minds but our bodies the breathing room they so need.
Healing From The Outside In
Boosting your skin’s innate immunity from the inside out with ample hydration, a nutrient-dense diet, and stress adaptation is essential. But there’s something equally important you can do for your skin: support it from the outside in.
The skin’s outermost layer, the stratum corneum, plays an important role in retaining hydration and keeping the skin in a state of balance. “This protein/lipid barrier creates a surface seal essential for maintenance of hydration and protection against microbial infection,” states Dr. John Lynga in one of his latest studies.
In addition to the stratum corneum, the skin’s microbiome is like your skin’s better half; it’s comprised of trillions of beneficial microorganisms that work in tandem with your skin to strengthen immunity in the face of stress.
While disruption of these critical layers of your skin’s barrier can come from within (poor diet, dehydration, and stress), it can also arise from external stressors like over-washing with harsh chemicals or hard water and environmental stressors like pollution or sun exposure. In addition to sun protection, a microbiome-friendly, non-stripping skin health routine is essential to support the skin’s barrier function and innate immunity.
photo credit: @mytinylagunakitchen
A great first step to healing skin from the outside in is to cut back on harsh products. Once you’ve done that, try to replace your old products with soothing, whole-ingredient formulas. This way your skin gets all the benefits of nature’s most potent ingredients without the drying, stripping effects that can come along with fillers and chemical preservatives. Here are some of our favorite plants, mushrooms, and honeys for barrier repair:
Aloe vera is one of the gentlest ways to soothe irritated skin, and it’s because of aloe’s otherworldly ability to retain hydration in the skin. Not all aloe is created equal; our carefully sourced aloe contains water-retaining polysaccharides 3x that of traditional aloe gel. By understanding the specific polysaccharides responsible for youthful skin, our aloe is one of few that has been clinically studied and shown to improve the appearance of skin roughness and elasticity while significantly increasing hydration of the skin by 100% within one hour of application.
Shop products with aloe vera: Empower Powder 2-in-1
Astaxanthin is one of the most effective carotenoids in the natural world, a natural guardian that’s capable of protecting skin cells from the inside out. With free radical defense that supersedes that of vitamin C, E, and even green tea catechins, this microalgae-derived nutrient is essential for smoother, brighter, reinvigorated skin. It’s free radical protection has even been studied to stand up to blue light exposure.
Shop products with astaxanthin: Shield Face Serum
Our wild-grown rosehip fruits and seeds are born in the isolated mountains of Chile and harbor the richest nutrient content of any berry in the world. Optimal levels of barrier-fortifying linoleic and alpha linolenic acids, free-radical fighting antioxidants, and soothing vitamin E deliver skin that is noticeably softer, smoother, and plumper after just one use. while long-term use can restore the look of wrinkles, scars, blemishes, and improve skin’s natural ability to retain moisture.
Not your ordinary oats, sprouted oats are the most concentrated source of skin-saving avenanthramides, delivering an effective antioxidant profile known to provide prebiotic nutrients to the skin’s microbiome and help support the skin’s natural barrier.
King trumpet harbors a universe of nutrients, and is especially rich in the precious amino acid, ergothionine. Acting as the ultimate protector, ergothionine funnels to areas of the skin barrier that have been breached, shielding cells from further oxidative damage while fortifying for a rejuvenated complexion.
The potency and efficacy of all the nutrients listed above is further uplifted with the 6 probiotic strains we use to ferment our formulas. Fermentation produces formulas designed to recalibrate both the skin and its microbiome, lavishing your skin’s universe with skin-strengthening prebiotic and postbiotic actives.
Zymomonas Mobilis + Swiss Black Bee Honey Ferment
This nutrient-rich ferment sets an ideal balance for healthy microbial growth while reducing sebum production for matte, hydrated skin. It’s even been clinically studied to improve the appearance of stressed, irritated skin by supporting a thriving microbiome.
Shop products with zymomonas mobilis + swiss black bee honey supernatant: Restore Essence Spray
Written by Dina Chouramanis