Remove stress from your face

Stress is not for the faint of heart – nor thin of skin. You know at some gut level (like when you catch the reflection of your furrowed brow in a window) that stress doesn’t help your appearance.

Now science is detailing the myriad ways the stress hormone cortisol literally gets under your skin, leading to dryness and other signs of ageing (including, yes, those lovely worry lines).

But what science now reveals is that it also heals. Once you ID how your inner turmoil shows itself, you can use targeted home and pro therapies to counter its not-so-pretty effects. With our strategies, your skin will look calm, cool and collected.


“Chronic stress increases the hormone cortisol, which damages skin’s ability to hold on to water,” says Peter Elias, MD, a professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco.

The resulting moisture loss also diminishes luminosity, explains David Goldberg, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology and director of laser research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Correct it

Look for hypoallergenic, fragrance-free products. “Their lower pH prevents further dryness and inflammation,” says Goldberg.

Wash your face with lukewarm water; hot temperatures strip skin’s oils. Slathering on your face cream while skin is slightly damp traps moisture.


Cortisol triggers an elevation in blood sugar, which – via a process called glycation – damages collagen and elastin, the protein fibres that plump skin and keep it smooth. Constant muscle tension also leads to permanent wrinkling.

Correct it

OTC creams made with retinol and antioxidants encourage collagen production to firm skin. A prescription retinoid like Renova offers significantly better results.

For an instant fix, you can soften lines by relaxing muscles with Botox (costs around US$400 per treated area and lasts up to four months) or filling them in with injectables such as Evolence or Restylane (US$600 and up, with results lasting six months).


The increased blood flow that occurs when you’re under duress may cause capillaries to expand. Stress also triggers flushing known as rosacea, according to the National Rosacea Society. And because stress weakens your immune system, flare-ups may last longer.

Correct it

When used daily, topical creams made with anti-inflammatories such as allantoin and licorice root extract can ease ruddiness. Prescription treatments include light and laser therapy that zap blood vessels: You’ll need several sessions that each cost US$300 and up.

If you suffer from rosacea, you may need topical prescriptions to reduce inflammation.


Stress increases the inflammation that leads to breakouts, says Gil Yosipovitch, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University.

Correct it

Use a lotion containing skin-sloughing salicylic acid or bacteria-busting benzoyl peroxide, plus a noncomedogenic moisturiser so skin won’t get too dry. If your skin doesn’t respond to treatment within a few weeks, see your doctor for more potent meds.


Anxiety causes a chain reaction, leading to sleepless nights, which in turn cause puffiness, says Amy Wechsler, MD, a dermatologist and psychiatrist in New York City and author of The Mind-Beauty Connection.

Correct it

Use cucumber slices as mini ice packs for the eyes; they constrict the blood and lymph vessels that bring fluid to the area. Sleep with your head slightly elevated to prevent fluid from pooling.



1. Work out

Exercise three or four days a week to decrease tension, boost circulation, and keep inflammation in check. “Even a long walk can pump out positive endorphins,” says Richard Fried, MD, PhD, a dermatologist and psychologist in Yardley, PA.

2. Get enough sleep

Sleeping less than seven to eight hours a night not only monkeys with your mood, but causes the body to release cortisol, increasing dryness and inflammation, says Amy Wechsler, MD.


1. Keep a Skin Diary

“Write down what’s going on in your life when your skin acts up and when it gets better,” she says. That helps you zero in on the emotional issue that’s triggering your skin problem.


See a skin shrink. Consider seeing a dermatologist who’s also board certified in psychiatry or psychology, known as psychodermatologists.

Besides prescribing antibiotics for acne and retinoids for wrinkles, they will recommend alternative techniques such as acupuncture and massage.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved by New York Times Syndication Sales Corp. This material may not be published, broadcast or redistributed in any manner.

Five minutes with: Soraya Hendesi

Why did you choose to combine ingredients derived from the biotech lab with natural ingredients?

To have used only natural ingredients would have denied our customers the most effective anti-ageing ingredients known.

How are the products anti-ageing?

Snowberry works in three ways – first it provides outstanding moisturisation through a blend of very beautiful natural emollients, such as Cloudberry, Strawberry seed, Lingon berry, and Neem, in combination with natural biosaccharide gums that help the skin to retain moisture without blocking the skin’s pores – as some silicone compounds will do.

Second, using a combination of anti-oxidants such as Retinol Vitamin A, Idebenone and Ubiquinone, Snowberry actively combats free radicals, which are the unstable molecules most often caused by excessive exposure to sunlight and which are primary agents in skin cellular damage.

Finally, and this is where Snowberry may differ most from virtually every other brand of skincare, the creams and serums contain a complex cascade of extraordinary peptides. Peptides are naturally occurring compounds (generally synthesised for skincare products) that link two or more amino acids, which are actually the building blocks of proteins.

In the skin, it has been discovered that peptides act as messengers to stimulate natural cellular growth and repair. Peptides are simply essential ingredients in any highly functional anti-ageing skincare formula.

What are some of the most unusual ingredients in the range and what are they good for?

Snowberry contains more than 130 ingredients and most, for one reason or another, are unusual. While Snowberry is quintessentially New Zealand, it contains natural herbal oils from all around the world.

For me, it was never a question of saying, what do we have here in New Zealand or what can we grow here, it was always, what is the best that can be obtained, from anywhere. That is a very important part of our philosophy.

Are all the ingredients in your products sustainably derived?

We require from our suppliers assurance that their ingredients are sustainably harvested and further, that they are, or are working towards becoming carbon neutral.

Snowberry is a carbon neutral certified enterprise and that commitment to being environmentally sustainable carries over into everything we do, including using vegetable inks in our printed materials and containing our products in polypropylene rather than glass (since polypropylene produces 20 per cent less greenhouse gas than does the manufacture and recycling of glass).