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The Mind-Skin Connection

The Mind-Skin Connection

Our skin has a funny way of showing the world what we are feeling. We’ve all been caught blushing during times of embarrassment or turning pale when scared, but have you noticed how your skin reacts to your mental health?

Your Mind & Skin Are Connected

Our skin has a funny way of showing the world what we are feeling. We’ve all been caught blushing during times of embarrassment or turning pale when scared, but have you noticed how your skin reacts to your mental health? This May, during Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re discussing the connection between mental health and skin health and sharing a few ideas to create a more balanced lifestyle.

Does Stress Affect the Skin?

Stress is a natural part of life. Work stress. School stress. Social stress. And so much more. We've all been there. It’s common for the weight of these stressors to affect our mood, attitude, and yes, even our skin.

Our adrenal glands produce and release a hormone known as cortisol during times of stress. When those levels are elevated for an extended period, they can take a toll on our bodies and skin. The release of cortisol is often associated with heightened heart rate and blood pressure, which can worsen the symptoms of sensitive skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea. Cortisol is also proven to affect your skin’s oil production, so you may experience oily skin that leads to clogged pores and breakouts.

On the other hand, the skin barrier may weaken as lipids and proteins begin decreasing from overwhelming stress. When compromised, your skin barrier suffers from trans epidermal water loss, leading to dry or sensitized skin.

So yes, stress-related breakouts and skin condition flares are a reality for many. But that doesn’t mean that having a single, stressful day or a few hectic hours will cause the sudden appearance of acne or a rash. It does, however, supply some explanation as to why a stubborn papule or pustule might go with a particularly difficult week.

How Do Mental Health Conditions Affect the Skin?

Some research concludes that people with mental health conditions, such as clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or bipolar disorder, may be prone to skin problems. Again, the cortisol hormone plays a significant role here since the body feels burdened. However, other hormones and chemical imbalances associated with mental health disorders may also affect the skin’s ability to repair itself. This inability to heal means breakouts and flares in psoriasis, eczema, rosacea and other skin conditions are likely to linger on the skin’s surface for prolonged periods.

Caring for Stressed Out Skin

Skincare has never been a one-size-fits-all situation. So, when it comes to stress and your mental health, your skin may react differently than others. However, dryness, excess oil and acne, and skin sensitivity are the three most common reactions associated with poor mental health. Here’s a quick guide to caring for your skin based on these three outcomes:

For Dry Skin – If you notice your skin is feeling dryer than usual, it may not be enough to simply slather on more of your moisturizer. Reach for moisturizing products that hold ceramides, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and peptides to hydrate and balance your skin. You may also need gentle, chemical or enzymatic if you notice any flakiness.

For Oily/Acne Prone Skin – Consider using ingredients in your skincare that regulate sebum production without overly drying your skin. CBD, niacinamide, salicylic acid, and hyaluronic acid are ideal ingredients to incorporate into your routine. Something else to keep in mind – when your skin is overly oily, it may be lacking water, opt for water-based products when making your selections.

Sensitized Skin – Skin that becomes sensitized from stress will require restorative, gentle ingredients to heal. Choose products with ingredients like arnica, hyaluronic acid, peptides, vitamin B, shea butter, etc. While your skin is healing, you may need to simplify your skincare routine further and avoid all exfoliants (chemical, physical, enzymatic) and retinol products.

Bettering Your Mental Health

We understand that easing your mental health is easier said than done. It takes time, practice, mindfulness, and deliberation. It will often take more than that for those with a mental health condition. Therapy, treatments, medication, and other practices recommended by a health care professional may be necessary, although each case is unique.

At GlyMed, we do not claim to be mental health professionals, therefore we won’t supply advice on treating mental illness or associated conditions. However, we do believe in the healing power of self-care practices and how they can help you feel more in control of your life after or during a particularly stressful day.

Here’s a general definition of self-care: Taking part in activities and personal practices that promote better mental, physical, and emotional health for oneself.

Learning about and practicing self-care is a wonderful place to start when healing the mind and body. Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D. writes, “Self-care is vital for building resilience toward those stressors in life that you can't eliminate. When you've taken steps to care for your mind and body, you'll be better equipped to live your best life.”

If you need some help jumpstarting your self-care journey, keep reading!

Here are several ways to show yourself some love that you can start implementing today.

Self-Care Practices to Start Today:

Talk to Someone – Whether it’s a friend, family member, or health professional, we encourage you to seek help wherever you can. Perhaps you’re seeking advice or looking for a confidant; either way, talking with a sympathetic listener can drastically improve your mood and reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, and stress.

Meditation – Do you ever feel like your brain needs a break? Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation that leads to a tranquil mind. The goal of each session is to focus all your attention on one thing and push out the jumbled thoughts and heavy feelings you may be carrying around. You can guide your mediation or find one in an app or online if you are new to the practice.

Spending Time Outdoors – There’s virtually no limit to the benefits that the outdoors brings us. Studies suggest that even spending a small amount of time embracing nature each day can reduce cortisol levels. Additionally, time spent soaking up the sunlight increases serotonin (our happy hormone) levels while your body is exposed to the best source of Vitamin D – the sun! Just don’t forget the sunscreen!

Hydrate - We all know that water is a building block to supporting a healthy body, did you know that 75% of adults are chronically dehydrated? If you find yourself fatigued even after a good night's sleep, it may be time to examine your water intake. Also, note that even if you’re drinking the recommended amount per day, you may need to factor in exercise, sodium intake, caffeine, and alcohol, which can affect your hydration levels.

Get Moving – There’s a reason you always feel better after a quality workout or even just a walk around the block. Physical activity releases endorphins, your brain’s “feel-good” and stress-reducing neurotransmitter. So, even if you’re not working towards a fitness goal, adding a little extra movement to your day can go a long way.

Journaling – Multitudes of studies have proven the therapeutic benefits of regular journaling. When given time to write, you can further identify negative thoughts, understand what is stressing you out, and prioritize your problems and concerns. It is a time for self-reflection to better cope with the feelings you are experiencing.

Get Your Beauty Rest – Your body needs some downtime to restore and recharge, so most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. When you’re getting restful sleep, your body has more time to repair muscle tissue, boost your immune system, and build up energy for the next day. Sleep is also essential for your skin!

As your skin goes through its daily cycle, it does most of its restorative work after 10 p.m., so make sure to do your skincare routine and head to bed by a reasonable hour.

Take Mental Health Days – Sometimes, you need a break from your hectic life. Often the stresses of work, family life, social life, and more can lead to burnout, hurting your mental, physical, and emotional health. Schedule a day now and then to check in with yourself and note how you are doing mentally. Focus on low-stress activities that help you recharge during a mental health day.

Daily Skin Care Routines – Having some routine in your day can help you feel like you’re more in control of your life, which can better your mindset. Since skincare is a task that you often complete twice a day, every day, you may consider creating a routine that helps you pamper yourself while helping you feel a sense of stability. Here are a few ways you can optimize your skincare for better results and relaxation:

  • Add a masque to your routine every few days

    • GlyMed suggests:

      • Oxygen Deep Pore Cleanser

      • CBD-Micro Silver Hydratherapy Masque

      • Ultra-Hydrating Enzyme Masque

  • Use a jade roller or gua sha in the morning to target puffiness

  • Dry brush your body before showering

  • Gently exfoliate a few times a week

    • GlyMed suggests:

      • Professional Micro Scrub with PC10

      • Serious Action Masque

      • Sal-X Exfoliating Cleanser

  • Try an at-home facial

    • GlyMed suggests:

      • Start by cleansing with a creamy cleanser

      • Exfoliate with a gentle, physical exfoliating cleanser

      • Use a facial steamer or a warm damp towel to loosen impurities in the pores

      • Massage your face with a roller, gua sha, or hands

      • Apply your preferred face mask

      • Apply your favorite treatment serums and creams

      • Apply favorite moisturizer

      • Apply sunscreen (if facial is performed during the day)


We understand that these self-care practices are not a cure-all. You can try one of them, you can try all of them, or you can implement a few ideas of your own!

Remember, the point isn’t to add more to your plate when you’re already stressed, but instead, find peace and clarity throughout your day. So, if you can’t do everything on your list one day, don’t worry about it! Extend some grace to yourself and try again when you’re ready.

For more information on mental illness and mental health advocation, we encourage you to visit the following resources: National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org/home Silence the Shame: https://silencetheshame.com/ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Resources for Mental Health: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/tools-resources/individuals/index.htm


If you have any questions and would like to speak to one of our friendly Master Aestheticians in your area, please email support@glymedplusaustralia.com.au



Written by The Institute of Skin Science