Mental Wellness Is Skin Wellness
Beyond hormonal changes, mental health also has an impact on skin health. Dry winter air was always a rough time for my skin, but I realized that periods of stress triggered eczema flare-ups as well. “Stress can severely affect our adrenal system which regulates the majority of the body systems including the skin which can lead to irritation, acne, and cause the skin to not function properly.” says Ross. I’ve always led a busy lifestyle, and for me, these acute flare-ups now serve as a signal for me to slow down and reassess what I have on my plate.
It is definitely easier said than done, as there are tangible links between mental health issues and skin disorders. “Interestingly, psychiatric disturbances have been reported in at least 30% of patients with dermatologic disorders,” says Dr. Harry Dao.
Because of this, advice for general wellness is similar to advice for skin wellness: whatever makes you feel your best on the inside will ultimately impact how you look on the outside. Just like with general wellness, there is no one size fits all resolution. Don’t get caught up in the newest trendy self-care craze if you’re not into it — it’s about what works best for you, your body, and your individual lifestyle. For me, drinking plenty of water, cutting out fried food, and getting enough sleep consistently decreases my breakouts.
“Look at skincare as a basic holistic and overall approach to health in general,” Ross says. “Take the time to meditate, exercise, and drink plenty of water. Be sure you’re taking care of your body as all best practices for staying healthy will show up in your skin.”
The Bottom Line: There Is No Such Thing as Bad Skin
Our bodies are ever-changing entities, and we should learn to appreciate them regardless of what cycle or phase we’re currently in. There are certain things about our bodies that we can’t control (thanks, genes!), but there is also a lot that we can. If you are struggling with your skin, look at your everyday routine and figure out if there are some lifestyle changes you can make. How much water are you drinking? Do your breakouts correlate with your sugar or dairy intake? Are you taking on too much at work? Do you live in an area with high air pollution? Make sure you approach this investigation with curiosity rather than blame.
Fast-forward to present day — I’m in my late twenties, and I still have a twice daily skin routine, but now with products better tailored to my skin’s unique needs. While I’m not dealing with breakouts of the same intensity or frequency, I do have to be mindful that how I navigate my days and how I treat my body will ultimately impact my skin. What has changed though, is that I will no longer let a temporary breakout impact how I feel about myself overall.
My skin self-love journey isn’t quite over. My partner has silky skin with essentially no effort, and sometimes I still find myself wishing I had the same naturally gorgeous and seemingly poreless cheekbones that they do. However, I take those times to pause and remember that, even if I’m in the middle of a breakout, I know how to handle it and it will pass.
I am in a much healthier place with my skin than I was years ago. While this can partly be attributed to no longer being at the mercy of teenage hormonal changes, it is largely because I have taken the time to understand my skin better. We’re all human — sometimes we don’t drink as much water as we should, or we skip our night routines a couple of days in a row. When that happens, remember to give yourself some grace.