How Cortisol affects your skin

Approx 5 minute read |

What is Cortisol?

By RACHEL STAGGS, Advanced Non-Surgical Aesthetic Therapist

Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in the adrenal glands and released into your blood, which means it travels all around your body and is absorbed by every cell.

Cortisol is a hormone that can be classified as a stress hormone.

As humans, we encounter stress every day. We need cortisol and adrenalin to fuel the – fight or flight process. It keeps us out of danger but also has a negative impact on our health and well-being.

Cortisol and acute inflammation are part of our natural immune system response and are controlled and regulated by your body. With an elevated level of cortisol over a prolonged period of time, our immune systems become compromised and inflammation can spiral out of control. Excess stress hormones can affect blood sugar, metabolism, water balance and so have many implications on the body including weight gain, stubborn fat, mood swings, and a series of skin conditions.

How do we control this?

Diet and Supplements
We need to support our bodies with a healthy, nutritious diet low in carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine which will reduce the pressure on our overworked adrenal glands. Exogenous ketones (ketones are the chemical our liver produces when we fast or eliminate sugar from our diet) and exogenous ones are made outside the body allowing us to take these in supplement form, will curb sugar cravings, increase energy and focus and drive down stress levels and inflammation.

These supplements also contain a mix of vitamins and minerals to support the adrenal glands and increase our immunity.

Practice self-care and mindfulness to reduce stress

We also need to reduce our stress levels. This is much easier said than done for a lot of people — but I can’t stress enough the importance of you indulging in a little time for yourself.

I recently heard someone sum it up perfectly; “Put on your own oxygen mask first - Practice SELFCARE and then let others in your life benefit from the overflow”

7 ways to Reduce Stress:

  • Practice gratitude and journal
  • Try a short 15-minute meditation – find one you like
  • Spend time in nature
  • Allow yourself screen-free time especially before bed
  • Spend time with your loved ones reconnecting
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Always surround yourself with positive vibes

This felt alien at first but you will soon see the benefits of self-care and realise it should be a non-negotiable part of everyone’s life.

How does Cortisol affect your skin?

When it comes to your skin, we know excess cortisol can cause so many skin problems including breakouts, premature aging and sensitivity. You might well be experiencing one or all of these symptoms right now.

Cortisol increases the activity of the sebaceous glands, so we produce more oil which can cause infection and lead to breakouts, disrupt the natural skin barrier and the skin microbiome. Increased stress hormones weaken the skin's natural barrier function leaving the skin susceptible to free radicals and oxidative stress causing dull and tired-looking skin, fine lines, wrinkles, and an increase in premature aging to the skin.

Cortisol can make it difficult for the body to retain water. This is what leads to dehydrated skin where your skin lacks moisture resulting in flaky skin or worse…wrinkles! If you have skin conditions such as Rosacea or Psoriasis, you might experience flare-ups when you have high cortisol levels and general inflammation (although you’ve probably already figured out that stress causes flare-ups).

Finally, here’s the good news!

Your skin doesn’t have to fall, victim, every time you’re feeling stressed out! Like many of our skin problems, we can fight the effects of stress and cortisol with a few simple steps.

We need to have a good skincare routine using clean products to support healthy skin tissue. This should ideally include naturally balanced ingredients which regenerate and a full spectrum SPF made with physical filters not chemical to protect the skin against UV and free radical damage.

More about the author: Rachel Staggs Aesthetics is an award-winning medispa located within Roko Health Club Chiswick Bridge Rachel is renowned for her expertise in advanced non-surgical aesthetic treatments delivered with a holistic approach.

Follow her on Instagram @rachelstaggsaesthetics

"When I read this blog, by our WOW practitioner Rachel, I just had to share it. It's such a good article, as it explains cortisol can cause so many skin problems including breakouts, premature aging and sensitivity, all of which are conditions that can be specifically targeted and treated by WOW fusion."


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