Between our endless to-do lists, jobs, families, and everything else we do, most of us are dealing with stress in our lives. And somehow, spending 10 minutes with a sheet mask once a week doesn’t manage to undo the effects of that stress. But aside from looking frazzled, a recent study finds that a high stress lifestyle can actually make us look three and a half years older, thanks to something called “cultural stress.”
Dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad and a team of researchers found that unlike regular, everyday stress - like having a death in the family - cultural stress is constant and our bodies aren’t designed to handle it. Murad calls the cultural stress the “silent killer” and says it’s wreaking havoc on our entire bodies, especially our skin.
When we’re stressed, our levels of cortisol - the hormone that our bodies release in response to stress - rise. And cortisol can cause tissues to break down, including collagen. So more cultural stress means more cortisol and that’s bad news for our skin. Cortisol can speed up the aging process of the skin, cause dehydration and dryness, enhance wrinkles, dullness, and dark circles under the eyes. So no wonder we’re looking years older.
And since we’re not going to suddenly start leading stress-free lives, what’s the fix, aside from fitting an extra yoga class in once a week? Dr. Murad advises bolstering your skin with a product that contains fatty acids to help counteract the effects of cultural stress and keep those worry lines away.