"Bei Stress wird die Haut nicht mehr optimal versorgt"
Dr Anna Lena Kuhlo

Dear Lena, is there a connection between skin condition and stress level?

Yes, definitely. We observe this phenomenon in everyday life: when we are stressed, the skin often looks dull and pale. In addition, existing skin diseases such as acne or eczema can worsen and, in the worst case, hair loss or shingles can occur.

What happens to our skin when we are stressed?

When stress levels increase, our body's cortisol levels rise. Cortisol is a stress hormone that provides short-term energy reserves (fight-or-flight response) and ensures that our vital organs are supplied with blood and nutrients. According to the principle of last resort ( note: medical term for the lack of supply of certain cells ), our skin often comes away empty-handed. This means that it is no longer optimally cared for, becomes increasingly dry (which, among other things, worsens eczema diseases), paler and more susceptible to failure.

When stress lasts for a long time, sebum production increases due to the shift in hormonal balance. This causes pimples or acne or acne-like diseases such as rosacea. In addition, if cortisol in the blood is elevated for a long time, blood sugar also rises permanently, which in turn increases our desire for carbohydrate-rich, rather unhealthy food. For example, we then eat more fast food or sweets, which in turn is bad for the skin - a real vicious circle!

"Lack of sleep and poor nutrition also affect the appearance of our skin"

Which stress triggers can affect our skin?

Unfortunately, we are exposed to a lot of stressors. Environmental influences such as exhaust gases or UV radiation, for example, lead to increased oxidative stress. These biochemical reactions create free radicals in the skin, which, among other things, promote damage to DNA, skin blemishes and faster skin aging. Another environmental stressor is cigarette smoke: it can inhibit important repair systems in the skin and hinder inflammation regulators. Lack of sleep also affects the appearance of our skin: If we don't get enough sleep, the blood supply to the body can deteriorate, meaning the skin is less supplied with important nutrients.

Poor nutrition can also have a negative impact on skin health. If you eat too much fast food and fatty food, your blood sugar level rises and sebum production increases. Too much sugar also promotes pro-inflammatory processes, i.e. has an inflammatory effect, and food that is too salty deprives the body - and therefore the skin - of moisture and literally makes it look old. Fast food also usually contains fewer vitamins and important trace elements, which are important for optimal nutrition for the skin.

To what extent can skin care help balance out such stress?

Fortunately, a lot can be achieved with the right skin care. On the one hand, it can provide a lot of moisture and strengthen the skin barrier. In addition, free radical scavengers can reduce oxidative stress in the skin and anti-inflammatory ingredients counteract the formation of pimples and redness.

Above all, you should definitely apply as much UV protection as possible in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Anytime, anywhere – and in almost any weather. Especially if peels or retinol are part of your care routine, because they make the skin even more sensitive to the sun. Cleansers are also very important for removing dirt and sebum from the skin - ideally in combination with a light chemical peeling to get rid of old skin cells. I definitely recommend washing your face both morning and evening. And please don't go to sleep with makeup on.

"The perfect skin care product should not only suit me in terms of the ingredients, but also my personal lifestyle."

Which ingredients specifically help against tired and stressed skin?

The good news is: Many ingredients have several positive effects. Ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, peptides, urea, panthenol and squalane are particularly good at strengthening the skin barrier and providing moisture. Reliable radical scavengers include: B. Vitamins C and E - especially in combination - which also stimulate collagen formation. For example, they have an anti-inflammatory effect. B. Azelaic acid, licorice root, niacinamide, allantoin, green tea extract, zinc and aloe vera.

What else should I consider when choosing my skin care routine?

Basically: The perfect skin care product should not only suit me in terms of the ingredients, but also my personal lifestyle. Beauty enthusiasts who care a lot about skincare certainly need a different care routine than those who don't like skin care, for whom applying cream once a day is too much. In this respect, it is advisable to try out new products in a test phase, preferably systematically, i.e. one after the other and observing.

And what else can I do beyond proper skin care?

Getting enough sleep is actually essential. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids, eat as varied and healthy a diet as possible and, if time allows, to be physically active. Otherwise, it is advisable to avoid stress factors such as smoking, alcohol or fast food. Just like UV radiation: the skin may be beautifully tan for a short time, but over time the skin loses a lot of its elasticity. That's why I can't emphasize enough how important daily sun protection is.