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Is anti-stress skincare the ultimate solution for your stress induced skin woes?

Apart from the various mental and emotional effects, stress can also manifest on your skin. From acne and wrinkles to premature ageing and dullness, there are varied ways in which stress can be damaging

In the current times, one of the biggest problems that has gripped one and all is stress. The Covid-19 pandemic has further altered our lives tremendously and with no end in sight, there’s general anxiety, fear and strain that has seeped into our lives. This stress has immeasurable consequences on our health and lives.

Apart from the various mental and emotional effects, stress can also manifest itself on your skin. From acne and wrinkles to premature ageing and dullness, there are varied ways stress can cause damage to your skin. To counter these adverse impacts, there’s a surge of anti-stress skincare products. But, how effective are they?

Stress and skin

Dr Nipun Jain, senior consultant, dermatology, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute and said that high level of stress significantly impacts immunity levels which may aggravate either already existing skin health issues or cause them to occur. “Also, stress makes the person more prone or reactive to redness and skin irritation etc.”

Agreed Dr Geetika Srivastava, dermatologist, Influennz skin and hair clinic, said, “Whenever our body encounters any stress, it releases cortisol. It can lead to a lot of problems not just for your skin, but your whole body. It mostly leads to acne breakouts and excessive hair fall“.

Explaining, Dr Taruna Yadav, senior Ayurveda expert at Forest Essentials said that excessive cortisol in the body causes an imbalance of Ayurvedic Doshas – Vata, Pitta or Kapha, which leads to “inflammation that may escalate or cause skincare concerns such as stress rashes, stress bumps, stress acne, redness, eczema or even rosacea”.

Stress can also affect your skin indirectly. “Cortisol is also responsible for weight gain that will lead to stretch marks. With stress, there can be less hydration and an erratic sleep schedule, leading to dark circles,” Dr Srivastava told indianexpress.com.

Anti-stress skincare

To combat the various stress-induced skin concerns, various skincare brands are now launching specific anti-stress skincare products. Dr Yadav explained, “Anti-stress skincare products contain ingredients that go beyond skincare into the realm of wellness to have an impact on one’s senses. Forest Essentials has a wide range of products that may be used to combat stress-induced skin issues like acne, inflammation, dry and flaky skin among others.”

“Anti-stress skincare products are not very much different from other normal products but they may contain a certain quantity of aroma oils, soothing agents and other calming agents and a lot of moisturisers,” Dr Jain told indianexpress.com.

Dr Srivastava emphasised the presence of antioxidants in anti-stress skincare products. “Most of the anti-stress skincare products will have antioxidants in one form or another, like vitamin extracts or matcha. Whenever our body encounters stress, it releases stress-related free radicals which are dangerous for our health. Any kind of antioxidant decreases these free radicals in the body, reducing the body’s response to stress.”

According to Dr Jain, stress needs to be managed separately for the overall well-being of our bodies. “Many anti-stress skincare products are created to undo skin damage caused by stress. Aromatherapy-based products are useful but stress needs to be managed separately. Certain skin care products can calm sensitive skin and strengthen the skin barrier, but stress management is entirely a different and behavioural aspect,” he said.

Detoxie, which is touted as India’s first anti-stress and anti-pollution skincare brand, is now also striving towards products that can help manage overall stress to a certain extent. “Our products primarily deal with stress-related skin concerns using ingredients like authentic matcha from Japan and avocado oil. However, we are continuously researching on products that can help overall mental stress as well,” Robin Chopra, founder, said.

Pandemic and anti-stress skincare

The pandemic has lead to an increase in general stress levels and subsequently the demand for anti-stress skincare products. “While stress is a constant companion, the past couple of years have heightened everybody’s stress levels. We have seen a surge in our skincare and wellness offerings — people are eager to create more relaxing and sensorial experiences at home to create an uplifting environment,” Dr Yadav said.

Marie Kapetanakis, founder and CEO, Kosmea, said, “We have definitely seen a rise in people going towards our rosehip oil in the pandemic. At times like this, people are looking for something neutral, plant-based and healing for their skin”.

Key ingredients to look for

The skin experts suggested some key ingredients to look for while adopting anti-stress products in your skincare regime. Dr Jain suggested products that have “ceramides and hyaluronic acid for hydrating and soothing skin, antioxidants for protecting the skin and peptides for improving any deficiencies in collagen, moisturisers to calm and hydrate the skin and aroma oils to elevate the mood and help you feel happy”.

Dr Srivastava, too, suggested looking for ingredients based on skin concerns. “If a person has stress response in terms of the dullness of skin and accelerated ageing of the skin, antioxidants based products will help. But if you are looking for something for stress acne, then you have to look for specific ingredients like salicylic acid or Benzoyl peroxide. For hair fall, look for products that have peptides into it.”

“Impactful anti-stress skincare should incorporate calming ingredients and essential oils of lavender–known for its relaxing effect on the body and senses, lime–which possesses astringent and antidepressant properties and peppermint–which is both energising and relaxing,” the Ayurvedic expert suggested.

Dr Srivastava, however, advised against using aromas for the skin. She explained, “Aromatherapy will help in relaxation and that will reduce the stress. But for skin, aromas are not helpful. Perfumes or extra fragrances in any kind of skincare product can cause contact dermatitis. These can be seen as red rashes, patches on the skin or darkening of the skin”.

Kosmea’s founder too highlighted that synthetic ingredients like colour and fragrance can harm the skin. “Therefore, we use only natural rosehip oil devoid of any synthetic fragrance as it helps repair and regenerates the skin tissues without any side-effects,” Kapetanakis said.

Other ways to manage stress-induced skin concerns

According to skin experts, anti-stress skincare products alone can’t help fight the skin damage caused due to stress. “Instead of just focusing on anti-stress skincare products, we need to look for overall treatment. What’s important is following a diligent skincare routine comprising of facewash, moisturizer and sunscreen depending on your skin type. Most skin problems can be controlled with basic skincare. If your skin doesn’t respond, then look for specific ingredients or consult a dermatologist,” Dr Srivastava said.

Dr Jain highlighted the need to focus on stress management to help fight these issues. He said, “Try decreasing your stress level through different mediums like yoga, increasing water intake, adequate vitamin C intake and sleeping well”.

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