How stressed is your skin?

“We wear our stress on our faces,” Dr. Mark Lupin of Cosmedica in Victoria, says. “And stress can wear us down, leading to a more tired look.”

Dr. Lupin says the overall effect of a prolonged period of stress, like the recent Christmas season, perhaps, or a single event such as buying or selling a home, can have similarly severe effects on the skin.

“Beyond frown lines that can deepen with time, stress can lead to puffiness under the eyes and increased redness from flushing,” he explains. “Beyond the direct signs, there are also indirect effects of stress that show on our faces. Some hormones are increased by stress which can lead to acne breakouts — this is especially common in youth around exam times in school.”

But it’s not just exam time for teens, or the post-holiday debt crunch that can wreak havoc on skin.

“Signs of distress in the skin is unfortunately something that is commonly seen all year round,” Charmaine Cooper, the Canadian education manager of Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute Dermalogica, confirms.

Weather can also factor in to the overall haggardness of skin.

“Harsher climates can also lend to environmental assault on the skin,” Cooper explains. “When the climate is extreme, or when there are spikes in the pollution levels in the air, such as soot and toxins, it can contribute to irritation in the skin.”

Surprisingly, in the wintertime, there can be higher spikes in pollution levels than the warmer months, Cooper says.

“This is due to an increase of indoor factors such as central heating and external factors such as car exhaust,” she explains.

While some people’s skin can be extremely sensitized — showcasing signs of stress with the slightest of trigger — most people can reduce the overall appearance of aggressors on skin by removing the cause.

And the easiest place to start, according to Dr. Lupin, is with sun protection.

“We have excellent options for sun protection such as with broad spectrum, higher-SPF sunscreens, (specially rated) UPF clothing, sunglasses, etc.” he says.

As for “pre-juvenation” treatments, he recommends light, laser-resurfacing treatments such as Clear+Brilliant laser or Fotona laser micro peels.

For fine lines and wrinkles, which are often caused by emotional stressors, Dr. Lupin says the use of “neuromodulators” such as Botox or Dysport can be beneficial, as well as dermal hyaluronic fillers such as Juvederm or Restylane.

“Beyond lasers and Botox, a new wave of popular treatments is that of boosting our skin’s natural collagen, elastin and its own hyaluronic acid, by a series of gentle injectable treatments with hyaluronic acid,” he explains.