Staying beautiful through stress

By Phil Rainier - bio | email

Doctors say the human body can react to pressure physically, causing a slew of skin conditions and even premature aging, which means the economy may be taking its toll on more than just bank accounts.

Laura Sheehy works hard to keep her finances out of the red, but says economic stress is what led to a flare up of red, itchy skin. "You get overwhelmed with the big picture today," she said. Her sick skin isn't just a mind game. Dr. Amy Wechsler is author of "The Mind-Beauty Connection." She says it's no secret that stress is a leading cause of breakouts. Clinical proof shows it has to do with hormones.

"When someone is stressed, their levels of cortisol, which is the major stress hormone, goes sky-high," she said. "And cortisol breaks down collagen and causes inflammation." The process can lead to common breakouts like psoriasis, adult acne, and rosacea. Collagen breakdown can result in fine lines and wrinkles. That's why it's no surprise that the recession has led to an increase in patients at Dr. Wechsler's office. "People are coming in and saying, 'I did not have this wrinkle last month,' or 'This is my, you know, my post market-crashing wrinkle.'"

Many are wondering what they can do to look their best while under stress. Dermatologist Debra Luftman is author of "The Beauty Prescription." She says there are a slew of effective lotions and potions available right at the drugstore. "I tell my patients, keep it simple. You only need three to four products." Start with a soothing cleanser. For example, Dr. Luftman says Cetaphil helps calm dry, irritated skin and Gly Derm cleanser exfoliates to remove dead skin cells. If you're planning on spending time in the sun, "Banana Boat Sunwear faces oil free SPF 30 covers the UVA and UVB rays and is oil-free, so it won't break you out."

And if a pimple pops up, she recommends grabbing the stick she developed, STAT. "The Therapeutix Emergency Outbreak Stick is a treatment for acne on the go. It reduces pimples within two hours." Doctor Wechsler says get outside for exercise, something she calls 'Vitamin G.' "When we're exercising, we make more beta endorphins and those are anti-inflammatory."

Laura soothes her skin with over-the-counter products and also checks in with Dr. Wechsler. She says the combo helps keep her skin clear even when the market forecast isn't. If you tend to "break out" in an emotional sweat, Dr. Luftman suggests using "Dove Visibly Smooth Clinical Protection Deodorant." She says that can often do the trick.

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