How Stress Can Ruin Your Skin

Now with us, we have to be a little bit more careful, because our melanocytes are larger. They are easier to trigger. As you know, one scratch, one bite, or one burn, and we hyper pigment. So we just have to be a lot more careful with our skin. I don’t want any inflammation. I think one of the reasons I tend to cause a little bit of controversy is because I think I ask just a different question to the norm, and the question I ask is, “How do I get 0% reactions in skin of color?” This question has never been asked before. The question I asked before was always, “How do I get the result that I want?” But for skin of color, it doesn’t work that way.

Because if you just try and get the result that you want, but actually causing more damage to the skin and getting more hyperpigmentation from what you’re doing, then it wasn’t worth it. And that question really is an essential question for our whole community. I don’t want to be the only one asking this question and wanted this to become the norm. I know have caused just by asking that question because you’re questioning industry standards automatically you’re going to cause friction and tension, and you’re going to upset some people who rely on the industry standard. But I’m hoping that the more we teach, the more we educate, the more that you then go to your practitioners and you know, far more, the less irritation, the less PIH, the less hyperpigmentation we’re getting in a whole skin of color communities. So I’m hoping any backlash I get is worth it.

Hopefully, it won’t last for much longer, but today’s topic I think has been really essential. I think this has really impacted me and I want to talk about it because if I feel like if I’ve gone through stress and the effects it’s had on my skin and my self esteem, how I look at myself in the mirror and how I think people are going to judge me based on my skin, then many other people have gone through the same thing.

I know 2020 was just literally the worst year ever for the majority of us can even remember in our lifetimes. Some people had it worse than others, but ultimately we all went through stress. We all went through trauma. We were all, it just, it was terrible. And so I want to talk about what’s happened to your skin in that timeframe, but also how we mitigate it and how we stop it from happening again, because knowledge is power. I firmly believe that. So let’s protect our skin. Let’s dive right in.

So, first of all, what’s happening when your stress on a physiological level? When you’re stressed, you release more cortisol and more adrenaline. Now that used to be great for evolutionary purposes, because if you saw rustling in the bushes and you thought that that was a lion, you would want to have adrenaline make you run in the opposite direction. However, for modern day, this cortisol and adrenaline is bad news for multiple reasons because it’s chronic. It lasts for a long time. It’s not just one fight or flight incident, that stress can those months. So what happens is when your cortisol goes up, you’ll sebum production goes up. When your sebum when production goes up, you clog the pores, you create an anaerobic environment, P acnes, the bacteria will replicate and you get acne.

A study was conducted on medical students between the ages of 22 and 24 years old. And there was a positive correlation between stress and acne severity. I mean, I know firsthand, the end of last year was really difficult for me. And I kept having heart palpitations. I wasn’t sleeping. My hair was falling out and I was looking in the mirror and it was as if something had attacked my face. I literally, I used to have acne coming down my face and this just rare me. I’d get my odd pimple the week before my period. But this was like, I never even got acne during teenage years. Like that was the level of stress that I went through, but also how it manifested on my face.

I just remember my mom and dad seeing me and they just went, “What happened?” Like, “How bad can it be for your face to look like this?” I mean, I’m sure they said it in a loving way, but I mean, talk about hurting myself esteem more. So it’s one of those things that you can see immediately on someone, if they’ve had a change in their life circumstances, if anyone’s passed away in that cycle or, they have financial issues or relationship issues or whatever issues you can actually tell immediately from someone’s face, if it’s severe enough. So acne is one of the ways that it manifests on our skin.

So the next way it can affect your skin is the stratum corneum. So that’s the top layer of skin. One of the main purposes is that it’s a barrier to prevent transepidermal water loss, so i.e. water evaporation from the skin. However, when you’re stressed, this barrier function is compromised. And guess what happens? You have more water evaporation. Your skin is drier. A dry skin means that it’s not a healing environment. We need hydration in order for our skin to repair and renew.

If that’s not happening, then every single skin condition that you have flares up. So whether that’s eczema, whether that’s dermatitis of one sort or another like complainers, you name it, any skin condition that you have tends to flare up and get worse during times of stress. And that’s one of the reasons for it. The other one is melasma, melasma can actually be made worse by stress for this reason as well. So it’s just like the gift that keeps on giving it just doesn’t end.

The next gift of stress is a gift of aging. So what happens is, first of all, we’re screwing up your face a lot more. And so you’re creating more lines that weren’t there before. You now have dry skin because of what we’ve already discussed, which makes your wrinkles worse. And on top of that, the protein content changes of the skin, and so your skin is not as elastic as it used to be. It doesn’t bounce back as fast. So all of these things combined equals you look older, you just look older after a big bout of stress.

The next gift is hair loss. So this happened to me with every exam I’ve ever taken, I would wake up and on my pillow would be hair. And usually it would be from the top of my head. That’s really where hair thinning tends to take place. Can’t even really hide it, truly it’s in your face. And the reason is the way that you will hair grows, the cycle can change, and you can go through something called telogen effluvium, where you actually changed the number of hair follicles that can grow hair. And this over a couple of months’ period, you’re going to start seeing hair thinning.

The next thing you may have noticed is graying of your hair. Now, the reason for this is that cortisol actually reduces the amount number of melanocytes that have been produced from the stem cells. And guess what melanocytes are the cells that give color, not only to your skin, but also to your hair. So during COVID people had more gray hair, not only because they couldn’t get to the hairdresser, which none of us could, but also because of stress. Stress is not our friend stress is the enemy for our skin and for our beauty and for our happiness.

So really every video I talk about the practical solutions to manage the situation, whether it’s a routine, whether it’s product suggestions. So really this part of the video, I want to talk about how to cope with stress. And I know I’m the last person to teach about this topic. I’m the most overstressed overworked person. It’s all self-inflicted. I worry about every single thing that could possibly go wrong. And then I’ve manifest it in my brain and I become stressed about something that’s probably never going to happen.

So I am one of those stressed people who tends to show it on my face, but in 2021, I have decided that I’m going to learn how to manage my stress. I think up until this point, stress has always helped me, whether it’s been an exam, whether it’s to push through the pain barrier, to whatever is. For example, during pregnancy, I never took any maternity leave. After I had my babies, I went straight back to work. It was literally I just never stopped. I just kept pushing through the pain and stress helped me push through that pain. It became almost like a winning formula for me, became a way for me to succeed and to achieve my dreams.

But I feel like at this stage of my life, at 37 years old, it’s not a winning formula anymore. In fact, it’s doing the opposite. It’s aging me. It shortens the happiness cycle in your life. It’s it’s actually something I really need to unlearn. It helped me in my younger years, at this stage in life, I wouldn’t recommend it and it’s not a winning formula I would teach my children either.

So 2021, I decided that I’m going to live with intention and I’m going to de-stress my life. So just a few changes that I’ve made. Last year I worked from six in the morning until midnight every day. I would be responding to DMs on my Instagram till 1:00, 2:00 in the morning. I just didn’t want to let one person down. And that was just ridiculous. That just had such a toll on me because I wasn’t sleeping. You know, if you’re on your phone until 1:00, 2:00 in the morning, those four hours asleep, are completely interrupted. You had no time to switch off.

So I’ve decided I’m going to keep normal working hours. And I’m going to leave my phone in a different room when I sleep so that I’m not even tempted to go on and start responding. I decided that I’m going to keep up with my running. I think running is the only thing that really saved me last year. You know, I run three to five days a week and not long. I mean, I go for maybe half an hour and I just put my music in my ears and I feel like I’m dancing in a club. My husband watches me run and he thinks it’s so funny. I’m punching the air. I’ve literally, I think I’m raving while I’m running down my road, but it’s my time to be happy. So that was really important for me.

Going for long walks with audio books. So a couple of books I listened to that I absolutely recommend Michelle Obama’s book was fantastic. Before I listened to her or her book, I really didn’t know much about her. I didn’t really have any opinions on her. But wow, she knocked my socks off. Phenomenal lady, really inspiring. In fact, I remember her talking about her miscarriage in her book or her difficulty with conceiving in her book. And that allowed me to talk about my difficulty with conceiving my second child. So she was such an inspiration in so many different ways. I mean, that’s one small way.

The other book I’ve just finished reading is Phil Knight, Shoe Dog. One thing that I’ve learned from that book was the bigger you get, the more of a target do you have on your back. I mean, he literally had… So he was a founder of Nike. He talked about his whole life story and it’s such an honest book. I loved it. And again, it coaches you to talk about all your own failures and all your own mistakes that you’ve made. And I love talking about my mistakes. Like it’s probably talk about it too much.

Yeah. So that’s one thing that made me realize actually the more visible I become on YouTube on Instagram, I can expect more negativity to come that because you do have more of a target on your back. So listening to his story for the last 40, 50 years and him going through it. He literally had his competitors call the FBI on him and just all sorts of things happen. They changed the tax law just to penalize Nike. I mean, Oh gosh.

So there was another learning point, but what it is, is just listening to other people’s going through their trials and tribulations, their trauma, normalizes any pain or trauma that you were going through. So that really helps me listening to biographies.

I also think it’s really important to talk about stress. So one of my good friends, Nisha is a coach and I would literally a time anything happened. I would call her, talk it through and she’d distill what I was most fearful of and what I was worried about and you know how to manage that. So I would highly recommend talk to a friend that really understands you and what you’re trying to achieve and can talk you through the problems. Sometimes you can’t see the wood from the trees when so much happens to you all at once. So she’s a great coach. I’ll put her details down below as well for you. If you don’t have somebody else to talk to.

The other thing I thought is really key for me to keep positive people close to me and anyone that like saps my energy or tries to make me feel a way that I don’t like to feel. I love them from a distance. I actually learned that from Vex King. And so this is the other book that I’m loving Good Vibes, Good Life from Vex. He’s a good friend as well. And absolutely, he’s one of the ways there’s people that I know and I literally sit there highlighting his book. So that’s another book that I would definitely recommend, just to talk you through problems.

And we all go through problems. We are all going through stress. There is no one who has escaped the stress and not just of 2020, I’m talking about lifetime of stress. I think it’s something that we don’t discuss enough. And I think I also want to talk about everything that goes wrong in my life I want to be open about it. I want to talk about it because if I’ve gone through it, a lot of other people would have gone through it too. You know, we’re not alone. This is the one thing that connects all of us is our pain and our stress, but I don’t want it manifesting on our skin. And so I want ideally to…

I hope this has been helpful because these are my personal tips that have helped me. I hope that if it’s practically helped me, that it will practically help you too. Not just a mantra that I’m putting on my Instagram, these are actual things that I do to get through any trauma that I’m going through.

Lastly, I just want to say, thank you so much, all of you. The amount of love that I’ve received from our Skin of Color family is I think one of the main things that got me through last year. It’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of, of last year. And I hope I make you proud, and I hope that I can continue to serve you the way you deserve to be served.

Thank you so much, sending you all my love.

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