This past year is definitely in the running for the most stressful yet. But luckily, we’ve found some ways to cope, and meditation has been a game-changer for countless people looking for a moment of calm. While the practice is great for de-cluttering cramped minds and breathing out the bad, industry professionals say there’s another huge benefit associated with it, and it has to do with our skin health.
How is stress linked to skin health?
The link between healthy skin and meditation goes back to ancient times. However, according to a 2014 study conducted by Bentham Science Publishers, the brain-skin connection has only been deeply studied in the past 20 years, and the findings are quite astonishing. Per the study, the skin is both an immediate stress perceiver and a target of stress responses, so it’s one of the first organs to reap physical signs of stress.
“The skin is a target of both acute and chronic stress,” says holistic health practitioner Dr. Shari Auth. “Stress increases various hormones including cortisol, which can have a detrimental effect on skin including increased oil production in the skin glands, increased likelihood of skin disease, and accelerating aging.” She also adds that mast skin cells—a type of white blood cell that is found in connective tissues—are activated by stress, and they’re the culprit for producing stress hormones and therefore inflammation in the skin. “This could lead to a vicious cycle of stress-induced inflammatory issues including acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and pruritus.”
How can meditation help improve skin health?
“Because meditation lowers stress levels, it can prevent and manage the detrimental effects of stress on the skin,” says Dr. Auth. “In addition, meditation helps to relax muscular tension in the face, improving the muscles that can cause wrinkles. Troy, MI plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, MD agrees, adding that meditation “is a great way to reduce stress, thereby slowing down the aging of the skin.”
While sitting still and re-focusing your attention is a major stress-relieving aspect of meditation, Dr. Auth says deep breathing is also a great help. “Deep breathing can increase oxygen supply to the skin. Increased oxygen supply helps the skin by promoting detox, cleansing the blood and accelerating the healing of wounds and various skin conditions. Increased oxygen also helps to get you that glow, similar to working out.”
Although Dr. Youn is a major proponent of the practice, he says that meditation should not solely be looked at as a treatment for the skin, but as an “overall great lifestyle change that can have positive health benefits on all parts of our body—the skin included.”