5 Ways to Get Great Skin
Most people like to look their best, and if the skin isn't in tip-top condition, it can affect the mood. However, it might be surprising to know that a negative mood could be the cause of skin problems in the first place. Take a look at the way feelings and emotions can affect the skin.
Stress causes inflammation which can be damaging to skin because it breaks down collagen - supportive, structural proteins found in many areas of the body, including the skin. When collagen is broken down, acne can worsen, the skin can become thinner and weaker, and wrinkles can form.
Dermatologists at the Stanford University School of Medicine discovered that cases of acne experienced by 22 college students became worse during stressful exam week than at any other part of the semester. Many experts attribute stress-induced acne to a possible influx of sebum. This is an oily substance that is meant to be protective of the skin, but in excess can mix with dead cells and bacteria to create acne.
Feelings of anxiety produced by stress also trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone produced in the adrenal gland. Cortisol puts a strain on all organs of the body, including the skin. It also weakens blood vessels which slows the formation of new skin cells and other cells in the body.
Some experts also believe that stress can cause individuals to make lifestyle choices that could negatively affect skin like eating unhealthy foods, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, or not drinking enough water. All of these choices can cause detrimental effects to the skin, from acne to wrinkles.
Frequent anger causes tension in facial muscles which will create lines in the face over time. Feelings of anger can also affect cell repair and rejuvenation. A study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, Immunity divided subjects into two groups - one comprised of easily-angered people, and one made up of more evenly-tempered individuals. The subjects were all inflicted with a small wound to the arm. On average, healing of the wound within the angry group took four times longer than healing in the evenly-tempered group. The research team attributed the results to higher levels of cortisol in the easily-angered group.
Repetitive frowning attributed to sadness can show on the face, causing lines and wrinkles. What's more, studies suggest that the inability to frown may actually reduce sadness. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research examined individuals who had been unsuccessfully treated with medication for depression. The foreheads of the subjects were injected with Botox to prevent furrowing of the brow which contributes to frowning. Depression in subjects injected with Botox was lessened by an average of 47 percent.
Just as a negative mood may contribute to skin-damaging lifestyle choices, an upbeat mood might inspire skin-healthy lifestyle choices. A study in 2007 conducted by Cornell marketing experts found that viewers made healthier eating choices while watching an upbeat movie than while watching a sad movie. When given a choice of grapes or buttered popcorn, more participants who watched the romantic comedy, Sweet Home Alabama, chose grapes. Conversely, more participants who watched the sad film, Love Story, opted for the buttered popcorn.
Here are five ways to boost mood and possibly improve the skin:
- Listen to music that evokes happy memories.
- Aromatherapy studies suggest that the scent of lemons can positively affect mood, so cut a slice, and have a whiff.
- Try eating a small amount of dark chocolate. It contains compounds that can lower stress hormones and stimulate endorphins - the body's natural mood enhancers.
- Exercise. Getting the blood pumping is great for the mood and the skin.
- Have sex. A number of small studies suggest that sex relieves stress, improves sleep, eases depression, and strengthens blood vessels, which all promote healthy skin.