Before you drop $80 on a moisturiser, or a highly-recommended serum to help with your problem skin it's time to ask your body a few probing questions — because all that fancy skincare isn't going to do its job effectively if your body is stressed out and unhealthy.
The interrogation should sound a little like this:
- Are you stressed? No, but really, are you?
- What's your diet like?
Let's begin with stress! It shouldn't come as a surprise that the health of your outer layers is determined by your inner ones, and a stress-free body (and mind, mind you) works absolute wonders for your skin. During a recent visit to dermal therapist and nutritionist, Chiza Westcarr (the skin goddess, IMO), at All Saints Skin Clinic, we spoke about the cost of skincare and how it can seem a lot of money for little return — on my perpetual jawline breakouts and skin sensitivity, especially.
Chiza admits, closer inspection of one's skin barrier, by an expert, often proves the root of a lot of common skin concerns can be more than skin deep. What we brush off as manageable, every-day stress — job dissatisfaction, housemate drama, family problems, financial strain — can actually wreak havoc on your skin barrier without you realising. "It's amazing how cortisol (the stress hormone) is elevated when we're under stress," says Chiza. "It has an inflammatory response and causes an inflammatory response in the body. So, it's not uncommon to see that kind of reactivity in the skin of someone who's highly stressed." But that's not all. The knock-on effect of inflammation and higher cortisol levels in the body is an increase in waxy sebum that is associated with breakouts. "Breakouts along the jawline are very common in people who are stressed as well," adds Chiza. "So really, the skin, being the largest organ of the body, is very much connected to what goes on internally."
And just like that, we've moved from stress to the gut — another factor that renders your skincare's powers almost powerless if you're not treating it like a queen.
"The gut is where we have trillions of different microbes, yeast, bacteria, that all communicate," says Chiza. "And when you have a poor diet, you're then feeding the microbes that tend to be the more opportunistic ones, the pathogens, and they will then communicate when you feed them bad food and you then have this cycle of craving bad food to feed them." It's not rocket science, feed your body right, stress less and you'll feed the good bacteria and lower your body's inflammatory response. Then, and only then, will your skincare do the rest.
It's all about a holistic approach to reaching your clear-skin goals. A healthy lifestyle + great skincare - stress = dream skin.