Here's What Stress Does To Your Skin – We asked a Holistic Esthetician

Here's What Stress Does To Your Skin – We asked a Holistic Esthetician - Three Ships

Better known on Instagram or her blog as Babe + Beauty  Dana Murray has been nicknamed “Queen of Charts” for her infographic style of sharing skincare information. She has spent the past 16 years in the beauty industry working as a licensed esthetician performing an estimated 10,000 facials, a corporate educator, published writer, beauty product developer and social media strategist. Her approach to skincare is holistic, yet scientific. She has a strong passion for education and helping people to feel and look their best.

How would you describe the job of a holistic esthetician and why did you pursue this career?

I started my career in 2004 when I attended esthetician school in my hometown of Las Vegas, NV. I spent a decade of my career working at luxury hotel spas, most of which took a very holistic approach with modalities and treatments from all over the world, many rooted in ayurvedic practices. This had a huge impact on my skincare philosophies and how I look at the body as a whole vessel instead of just focusing on the face. Diet, lifestyle, stress levels, illness/medications, etc. all have an impact on the skin.

What does a typical work day for you look like? 

I start my day with first walking my dog, a big cup of coffee and checking my emails/social media. All in that order or my dog would be very vocal about it! Due to Covid-19 I am now a self-employed consultant and writer in the beauty industry (of course!) That being said, I will often have several projects in the air at once so I always make a to-do list for the day. I usually will have several calls or Zoom meetings and I always block off time for lunch and stretching throughout my day. It’s so important to readjust your body and get the blood flowing! All of this is in stretchy pants and a messy bun since it’s from home!

Can you tell us more about what happens within our body when we become stressed?

When we become stressed our body releases a hormone called cortisol which can affect both our physical body and mind. Increased levels of cortisol affect our immune system, weight and skin.

When we’re stressed, what impact does increased levels of cortisol have on our immune system and skin tone/ texture?

When our immune system becomes compromised, already present skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema or rosacea can become inflamed and exacerbated. If you get cold sores (HSV-1) that could also potentially pop up. As far as our skin is concerned, because increased cortisol levels diminish the skin’s ability to retain moisture your skin may even become dehydrated.

Will being stressed for a long period of time lead to getting acne?

It definitely can! Because the skin’s ability to retain moisture is compromised, the skin may become unbalanced producing excess oil, this is called “rebound” oiliness.” That excess oil may cause  acne to become worse or cause breakouts even if you aren’t typically acne prone.

How are acute stressors (big deadline at work, new environment) and chronic stressors different when it comes to impact on your skin?

With acute stressors there is a means to an end so you may just experience short-term effects on the body like a messed up sleep pattern or a few pimples. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is the real problem! Inflammatory skin conditions may become worse, your skin could look “tired”, you may feel dehydrated and experience acne which could leave hyperpigmentation and become a longer-term skin issue.   

For those struggling with skin problems due to stress, how do you balance treating it with skin-care products vs. actually changing your lifestyle to reduce stress?

In my opinion, you have to treat the root of the problem first! Skincare products will only help so much if your body is still massively producing cortisol and triggering the effects of stress on the skin. Once your mind calms down topical skincare products are helpful to treat the skin conditions.

What lifestyle tips do you have for those looking to ease stress and improve their skin?

  • Meditation - if you are new to meditation there are so many great phone apps that will help guide you.
  • Exercising & Yoga - moving the body helps to reduce cortisol levels and inflammation in the body.
  • Sleep - people that don’t get enough sleep have significantly more cortisol in their bloodstream. Creating a sleep “ritual” is super helpful like shutting down your devices an hour before bed, changing out your light bulbs in your room to red light bulbs (to trigger melatonin the sleep hormone), having some calming tea and of course doing your nighttime skincare routine!

    Where can we find you (social handles that you would like to share)?

      If you liked this #ExpertTalks blog post, make sure to check out our most recent post on how to save your skin this winter!