When you’re sleeping and eating well, and work and life anxiety is at a minimum, you probably look as good as you feel. Radiant skin is hard to define, but you’ll know it when you see it. The trouble is, that glow can be rather finicky. And this year, of course, has been one sucker punch after the other, leaving many of us on edge. Stress can express itself in many ways. One of the most visible is a dull-looking complexion.
That, however, is only one of several potential reasons why your complexion may look a little off. Over the next two blog posts, I’ll get into each of those causes and what you can do about it. In most cases, it’s something you can do on your own, at home.
When we feel stressed, our cortisol levels go up, and our fight-or-flight response kicks in. That essentially redirects blood flow to the essential organs, not our face, which is why our skin can look especially pale.
There are lots of ways to ease stress and anxiety. A couple minutes of deep breathing is a relatively simple place to start. Ultimately, the best method is the one that works for you, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Where your skin, specifically, is concerned, try giving yourself a quick, gentle facial massage while you cleanse or apply moisturizer. That’ll help stimulate blood flow. For a more lasting effect, consider a microdermabrasion session at a board-certified dermatologist’s office. It will remove dead skin cells (more on that in a second) and boost circulation.
Dead skin cells
We shed millions of skin cells a day. Most fall off naturally. But unless you’re actively removing the rest, they’re going to accumulate quickly and leave you with a grayish complexion no matter your skin tone.
Check out the nearest surface. See the thin layer of dust sitting on top of it? It’s going to remain there until you wipe it clean. In much the same way, the dead-cell buildup on your face is going to prevent your skin from reflecting light until it’s washed off.
So, get into the habit of gently exfoliating once or twice a week (slightly more often during the summer, when we’re sweating more frequently). If you have sensitive skin, look for scrubs with sugar or jojoba esters, which tend to be milder. For everyone else, grainy scrubs with pulverized nut shells are good.
In my next post, I’ll discuss how you can counter the complexion-flattening effects of the sun, air pollution, and, potentially, your own hormones.