Just as we blush at embarrassing situations and get goose bumps when we get excited, in the same way the emotional and psychic factor greatly affects the skin. Today we can find dermatologists with training in psychiatry and psychology. In addition to dealing with their patients’ skin problems, they practice talk therapies, even prescribing anti-depressants or anxiolytics. The result is a unique perspective when it comes to solving any skin problems.
Mind-skin connection is real.
Emotions manifest themselves particularly strongly when it comes to the skin. This connection begins in the uterus. This is because the skin and nervous system share common embryonic origin, i.e. the same cells form both the brain and skin, explains Josie Howard, a psychiatrist with experience in psychodermatology.
Every time we feel tension, we release cortisol, a hormone intended to be pumped only a few seconds. When cortisone is very high, it has many negative effects on the skin. Excess cortisol breaks down collagen, increases moisture loss, dilates blood vessels, causes inflammation, slows cell rotation and increases sebum production. This leads to wrinkles, dryness, irritation, opacity, breakouts.
Sleep is the best cure. While we sleep at night, cortisol levels are at no lower point, maximizing their repair capacity. Feeling serene or optimistic has similar effects to getting a good night’s sleep (that’s why when we’re happy we’re told we’re glowing). Sexual activity also benefits our skin, not only reducing cortisol, it also increases beta-endorphin like oxytocin, an anti-inflammatory molecule.
Because skin and mind are so intertwined, psychodermatologists recommend a treatment approach of both ends. A chronic condition such as acne or eczema is usually exacerbated by stress, so we should apply anti-stress practices such as meditation, regular exercise, herbal teas, etc. to our beauty routine. María del Mar Aguilera Zuheros, Miss World Spain 2019 argues in her theory of skin psychology, which is the largest organ of our body and reflects clear evidence of our mood and health. The skin is a mirror of what we carry inside and it has been shown that the features of the face (including the skin) influence how we are judged by others unconsciously, or we make important decisions regarding a person based on their appearance, health status and skin (e.g. choosing someone among several candidates, voting for someone, choose someone for a job).