Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Meditation and Your Skin September 18, 2013

Filed under: beauty,Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 1:00 pm
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In the quest for beautiful skin have we missed out on a technique that can both quiet our mind, improve our health, and help our skin?  Can you meditate your way to perfect skin?

While the health benefits of meditation are well known – reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, strengthening immunity, and inducing calm – what about the skin benefits?

Celebrity esthetician Kate Somerville writes about the connection between meditation and appearance:

I became convinced about the power of meditation after I witnessed significant changes in the skin of several of my clients who practice it.  It really made me aware that I may be able to help someone topically or assist her in altering her diet, but if I can’t help her find a way to stop her brain craziness, she’s simply not going to look her best.

Meditation is a state of deep physical relaxation combined with acute mental alertness, and there are many ways to achieve this state.  Almost every religion incorporates meditative practices such as praying and chanting, and you might be able to find one in your belief system.  Other purely physiological techniques involve sitting and focusing on something that will hold your attention: a word, an image, your breath, or a visual cue.

(From Complexion Perfection! pages 36-37)

According to the online article Meditating for Better Skin as you practice meditation you reduce your stress levels and help your skin:

Meditation is practiced worldwide as an excellent way to reduce stress and improve mental and physical health. Did you know, however, that meditation can also help improve your appearance?
When practiced properly and consistently, meditation is one of the few natural ways to improve the quality and tone of your skin, and even combat any number of skin ailments, ranging from acne to rosacea to premature wrinkling.
How stress affects your skin
The body responds to duress by releasing cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol, while necessary in small quantities to help you deal with “fight or flight” situations, is not meant to be sustained at high levels for prolonged periods of time. Continued production of cortisol can result in a variety of negative health issues including fat gain around the visceral organs, blood sugar imbalance, decreased bone density, higher blood pressure and of course, skin problems.
Cortisol can result in an increase in oil production, which can lead to acne and acne-related problems.
Additionally, when cortisol is released by the body, sugar levels in our bloodstream go up. Increased blood sugar promotes glycation in our skin, which damages collagen. Damage to collagen can lead to more lines and wrinkles.
As soon as cortisol is released by the body, sugar levels in the blood increase. We know that sugar spikes are especially bad for diabetics, but increased blood sugar also promotes a process called glycation in our skin which damages the collagen. Collagen is what makes your skin both firm and pliable. The breakdown of collagen leads to fine lines and eventually wrinkles.
Cortisol acts to dehydrate the skin by decreasing your skin’s production of hyaluronic acid, a natural moisturizer for the skin. And it compromises the skin’s barrier, which allows hydration to evaporate instead of staying in the skin.
Another byproduct of stress that works negatively on the skin is adrenaline, which decreases blood flow to your skin and leads to a pale, wan complexion.

Better skin through meditationResearch has shown that meditation is a powerful stress-reliever. When you meditate, you slow your heart rate and produce less cortisol even as your immune functions improve. While difficult to adjust to initially, a consistent practitioner of meditation reaps myriad mental and physical benefits, including reduced stress responses and improved immunity to stress.

Reduction in stress naturally leads to reduction of stress hormones like cortisol, which allows your skin to continue to regenerate normally .

People have found that after consistent meditation, they see fewer lines and wrinkles, improvement in acne, fewer dark circles or bags under the eyes (due in part to improved quality of sleep that comes with meditation), and a healthy glow.

Note: For maximum benefits to your skin, do not shower immediately after meditation. Some studies have suggested that chemicals produced during meditation can be beneficial to the skin. Showering would not only wash off those beneficial chemicals, but also produce a shock to the nervous system, increasing the stress response which is the opposite of the intended goal. If you must shower post-meditation, try to wait at least half an hour to an hour. Ideally, avoid any kind of water exposure or submersion post-meditation.

There are many, many different ways to meditate.  Personally I suggest starting off slow – trying to sit quietly for 5 to 10 minutes each day if possible.  I’ve found that guided meditations work best for me; I’ve even found some excellent free phone apps such as Take a Break and Omvana that make meditating anywhere easier.

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from http://www.organizationalwellness.com

 

Stress and Your Skin April 3, 2010

Last Saturday I spent the day at McCormick Place in Chicago attending the Face and Body Conference Midwest.  While there I had the opportunity to attend a few lectures on a variety of topics from skincare ingredients to treatment options to marketing strategies.

The first class I attended last Saturday was called “Cutting-Edge Ingredients” and the speaker was Rebecca James Gadberry from YG Laboratories.  The class covered numerous topics, and the first topic covered was stress and the skin.  At the end of the section of the lecture on stress Rebecca Gadberry recommended that everyone read the book The Mind-Beauty Connection by Dr. Amy Wechsler for further information about how stress affects the skin.  This is a book I’ve already read and recommended here on my blog (see my previous post with my review).  The information in this post is taken from both the lecture I heard and from Dr. Wechsler’s book.

As you probably already know stress is bad for you, very bad for you.  Stress is also terrible for your skin.  As a matter of fact too much stress triggers your skin to start the aging process prematurely leading to wrinkles and fine lines before you want to have them.  Stress can actually age you three to six years, at least.  And not only that – stress can create a vicious cycle that just continues to affect the way you look – stress affects your looks, you become unhappy with your appearance, this leads to you becoming unhappy in general and you can’t cope with stress well, and then your looks suffer yet again.  This holds true for both women and men.

Stress causes the hormones in our body to begin to operate ineffectively and to become unbalanced.  When hormones do not work properly our bodies suffer in many ways – for example stress can lead to health problems and diseases.  In addition, skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea can all be affected and worsened by stress.  Stress can make us feel tired and weak and unable to cope with life.   Furthermore, when we are under stress our body release a number of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol that begin to wreak havoc on our skin when these hormones stay in our bodies for a long time (for instance when we are under chronic stress).  For a much more in-depth discussion of this topic see chapter 5 of Dr. Wechsler’s book “How Stress Gets Under Your Skin”.

There are a few different ways stress can affect your skin.  They include the following:

  • Cortisol degrades collagen and directly leads to the formation of wrinkles in the skin.  When you live in a chronic state of stress your body finds it harder and harder to repair itself naturally and so you develop more wrinkles and fine lines.
  • The stress hormone CRH can fuel inflammation in the skin and that in turn can cause acne.  Since acne is an inflammatory disease all it takes is in increase in inflammation in the body to cause more acne.  And if you are stressed you are more likely to pick at your breakouts which could lead to even more breakouts.
  • Stress hormones can cause your body to release histamines which can cause a range of skin conditions like dermatitis, irritation, hives, or inflammation or aggravate existing skin conditions like psoriasis.
  • Stress can make your hair fall out and make your nails brittle
  • Stress makes your eyes look tired.  This could be because you are not getting enough sleep since you are stressed out.  A chronic lack of sleep could lead to fluid stagnation under the eyes and then dark, puffy under-eye circles in the morning.
  • Stress could cause your skin to enter mini-menopause.  A chronic flow of cortisol causes a drop in estrogen which means your skin produces less collagen and less moisture.  Your skin could end up looking dull and dry as a result.

 

So what can you do to prevent this seemingly endless flow of bad hormones and skin problems?  Learn ways to cope with stress better, try meditation, exercise, and find ways to get enough sleep.  Any of these behavior changes will cause your stress level to drop.  Nourishing your body and soul in a healthy way will go a long way to helping you cope better with stress and to attaining the healthy skin you desire.

 

Further Reading

As I already mentioned most of the information in this post was taken from The Mind-Beauty Connection by Dr. Amy Wechsler.

  • Chapter 4: Nine Days to a Younger-Looking (and feeling) You – will help you figure out which stress profile you are and will give you great tips on how to cope with and even overcome the stress in your life.  The chapter includes skincare advice, food tips, and lifestyle suggestions.
  • Chapter 5: How Stress Gets Under Your Skin – goes into great detail about what happens to your body when you are under stress.
  • Chapter 6: Skinology – explains how the skin works and behaves and how stress affects the skin.

  Also read this article:  Managing Stress Can Help Clients Improve Their Skin Conditions Skin Inc.

 

 
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