Many of us have experienced a breakout when we’re stressed out. But why is it that pimples develop when we’re under pressure? The answer is simple. Stress hormones increase oil production and overall inflammation, which both flare acne if you’re already someone who suffers from it. Knowing that, it makes sense that improving your overall mental well-being can calm your skin and prevent acne.
There are a number of ways to reduce your stress level. The ancient practices of tai chi and yoga are linked to a number of health benefits, including stress relief. Other stress-reducers include meditation, “mindfulness” and breathing exercises. Exercise in general is associated with lower stress levels so try to include at least 20 minutes of activity in your day, even if it’s just a brisk walk around your neighborhood. It’s also important to take a shower after intense exercise to cleanse off the sweat and bacteria that can lead to breakouts on both your face and body.
Massage is also a great stress-buster. However, if you have body acne you should avoid the massage oils traditionally used because many are heavy and will clog pores. A better bet is to bring your own noncomedogenic moisturizer for the therapist to use on your body. It’s also best to avoid having your face massaged as rubbing can further inflame irritated skin.
Getting the right amount of sleep is important if you want to reduce stress-related breakouts and maintain a healthy life balance. Sleep deprivation has been known to contribute to hormonal imbalances that trigger oil production and lead to breakouts. Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally while you sleep and is also associated with stimulating your immune system and protecting against bacterial infections, which is helpful in fighting acne. Need a little assistance powering down or staying asleep? Evening rituals, like a warm bath, herbal tea, or relaxation before bedtime encourage a good night’s rest. Once you are in bed, make sure you’re snoozing on clean sheets and pillowcases. Basically, you want to make sure you’re not lying in pore-clogging dirt and oil.
Exercise, stress and, of course, diet can all affect acne. A clear skin diet should exclude foods high on the glycemic index – things like white pasta, rice, bread and sweets – because they spike sugar, which can also increase oil-producing hormones. The best diet for healthy skin includes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have shown reduce inflammation and help with mood regulation (among other benefits). So make sure to add omega-3-rich foods like salmon, avocado, flaxseed oil and walnuts to your grocery list weekly. Combine these diet and lifestyle tips with a Proactiv acne treatment and you’ll be doing your best to clear your skin and keep it free of breakouts.