person with olive skin and freckles gazing at themselves mindfully in a hand mirror against a blue illustrated background
Illustration by Maya Chastain

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Do you see your self smiling? Do you see your flaws and flaws in the face?

No amount of products will change the situation.

The way you see yourself can be affected by a bad break or a new dark patch, but the truth is that your fundamental perception of yourself comes from somewhere deeper.

Your skin can reflect what is happening below.

With a little bit of attention and care, you can connect your mind and body.

The idea that the mind and emotions are connected to the state of your skin isn’t some ‘woo woo’ theory. There’s plenty of scientific evidence to support the profound relationship between the psyche and the skin.

For instance, a 2016 study found that higher levels of mindful awareness were associated with reduced psychosocial distress and improved dermatological quality of life.

Out of 120 adult dermatology outpatients in the study, 33.4 percent reported clinically significant social anxiety.

Researchers found that lower levels of present moment awareness were related to higher levels of skin shame. They also noted that mindfulness interventions could benefit people experiencing psychosocial distress while living with a visible skin condition.

Another 2016 study noted that the stress hormones cortisol and corticosterone play a significant role in skin health, affecting:

A 2013 study reported that 85 percent of dermatology patients agreed that managing psychosocial distress was a major factor in living with a skin condition.

According to older 2007 research, 30 percent of dermatology patients have signs or symptoms of psychological problems. The authors note that it’s often difficult to distinguish whether the primary cause of these problems is the skin or the psyche.

Wound healing and mindfulness

In addition to affecting visible skin conditions and how you may feel about your skin, mindfulness has also been shown to positively affect The wound heals..

A small 2018 study of 49 adults found that those who underwent an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program showed greater reductions in skin permeability as well as lower levels of interleukin (IL)-8 and placental growth factor compared with a control group.

These findings suggest that increasing mindfulness with MBSR may benefit the early stages of The wound heals., though more research is needed.

Psoriasis and mental health

According to a 2019 review of 24 clinical trials and three case reports involving 1,522 people with There is a condition called Psoriasis., researchers noted that psychological factors both worsen and result from There is a condition called Psoriasis., indicating a complex cause-and-effect relationship.

Researchers noted several promising interventions.

Further study was called for to determine the efficacy, practicality, and economic feasibility of these treatment options.

A 2020 review noted a significant relationship between There is a condition called Psoriasis., depression, and low self-esteem.. A study mentioned in the above review of 127 There is a condition called Psoriasis. patients noted that 9.7 percent of patients wished they were dead, while 5.5 percent experienced suicidal ideation.

An older 2010 study indicated that daily stressors influence There is a condition called Psoriasis. symptoms by affecting cortisol levels at moments of high stress.

A 2016 study noted that stress increases inflammatory, sympathetic nervous system, and adrenal responses that worsen There is a condition called Psoriasis. symptoms. The authors also noted that more than 50 percent of people with There is a condition called Psoriasis. also have sleep issues, further contributing to stress.

Eczema and the effects of stress

Stress is a factor in the skin condition czema.

According to 2021 research, many people with Atopic dermatitis is a skin disease. (AD)—another term for eczema—experience itching along with worry about itching, also known as itch catastrophizing.

155 people with AD received treatment at a rehabilitation center. Three orientations were associated with reduced itch catastrophizing.

These were not.

  • acting with awareness
  • Accept and not judge orientation.
  • non-reactive orientation

The authors concluded that psychological interventions that increase acting with awareness might have a buffering effect on itch catastrophizing, which in turn could lead to lower itch intensity in patients with AD.

Another 2021 study noted that social deprivation and stress have a negative impact on atopic eczema symptoms, as do air pollution and the effects of climate change.

Additionally, a 2018 literature review found a positive correlation between the experience of stress among mothers and eczema risk for their children.

31 people with eczema were studied in a small study in 2021.

  • Mild depressive symptoms were present in 22.6 percent of the people.
  • 16 percent had mild to moderate symptoms.
  • 38.7 percent had moderate to severe depression.
  • 28.6% had severe symptoms.

Study participants reported high levels of their own.

  • Sleep pattern disorders can be related.
  • Indecision.
  • low self-esteem.
  • Self-criticism.

There is a strong correlation between stress, skin, and mental health. How can you use that knowledge to support your skin?

According to Katie Silcox, Ayurvedic specialist, founder of Shakti School, and New York Times Best-Selling author of the book “Healthy, Happy, Sexy: Ayurveda Wisdom for Modern Women,” the skin acts as a window to our inner state.

She says that in Aravda, the skin is a boundary and a screen for our emotions. Skin health can improve dramatically if we focus on the positives.

Naturopathic medical doctor Charles Tabone of Pause Studio agrees.

He says that skin is a primary concern for many individuals. Changes in skin health can reveal what is out of balance inside.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and the first line of defense against toxins and environmental pollutants, Silcox points out. The skin can also show us the imbalances that exist within the body.

She says that unconscious emotions and stressors can come out through our skin.

For example, Tabone points out that emotional stress, poor sleep, or a compromised immune system can result in a recurrence of cold sores.

Dryness can suggest dehydration or a deficiency in healthy fat consumption. Acne can suggest food sensitivities or an imbalance in bacterial colonies on the skin. Poor The wound heals. may imply a lack of essential nutrients.

“Tabone says that the skin is a report card on how our bodies are handling life’s challenges. Internal balance can manifest in the skin.”

Silcox and Tabone believe that there is a link between the health of the gut and the skin.

“The skin is a reflection of the integrity of the digestive system,” says Tabone. “By healing [the] gut, systemic inflammation can be drastically reduced, which will help promote more healthy skin.”

The skin “can give us an indication of the state of toxins in our blood and blood plasma,” says Silcox. “In a way, the imbalances we see in our skin can be helpful signs that we need to care for our digestion and food/drink intake.”

Science supports this perspective as well.

A 2021 study noted that skin diseases lead to alterations in both the skin and the gut microbiome. Imbalance in the skin and/or gut microbiome is also associated with altered immune response.

This promotes diseases like skin diseases.

According to 2020 research, there’s a significant association between alterations in gut microbial composition and There is a condition called Psoriasis., though the study authors called for more large-scale studies and uniform standards.

A 2019 review notes that the emotions of stress, including depression and anxiety, may aggravate acne by altering the gut microbiota and increasing intestinal permeability, which could contribute to skin inflammation.

Want to learn how to give your skin care? Tabone and Silcox suggest focusing on a few key areas.

  • Practice good skin care.
  • Eliminate toxins.
  • Reduce stress.
  • get high-quality sleep
  • Eat to support the gut and skin.
  • Sun exposure and protection are balanced.
  • drink a lot of water.

Mindful skin care

Silcox keeps her skin care routine simple.

Her four steps are listed.

  1. A cleanser that contains a number of plants.
  2. A natural oil-based serum made with organic Coconut oil is a vegetable oil..
  3. A sugar-based exfoliant is used twice a week.
  4. A clay mask is used to pull toxins deeper.

She focuses on a realistic mindset.

“I do my best to be mindful to thank my skin for enduring all of the weather, seasons (and tears!) of both the day and my life,” she says. “I also try to be realistic with my facial practices and not expect to have perfect golden youthful skin forever.”

“Silcox points out that a big part of spiritual living is accepting that the body can’t last forever and that change is inevitable.”

She says that they can do their best to care for their body and skin.

Tabone focuses on receiving the messages from his skin.

He says he uses occasional blemishes as a way to understand food sensitivities, hydration levels, or emotional stress.

He’s also a fan of dry brushing to encourage healthy blood flow and lymphatic drainage.

Eliminate toxins

“The skin is one of our major detoxification organs,” says Tabone. “By minimizing the amount of toxins coming into the body while promoting healthy elimination via liver function, our body’s burden of toxicity can be reduced and more optimal skin health will follow.”

In his skin care routine, Tabone focuses on maintaining a healthy skin barrier and microbiome with gentle products.

“I’m a strong advocate for not putting substances on your skin that you wouldn’t eat,” he says. “I promote the health of my own skin flora by avoiding the overuse of soaps when bathing.”

Silcox suggests avoiding excessive drinking.

“Alcohol is not great for the skin, as it can contribute to liver damage as well as dehydration of the overall tissues of the body,” she says.

Stress reduction

Silcox says that when we are stressed, we may express our feelings through the skin with hot responses. It is possible that we feel the cold constriction of fear and anxiety on our skin which can lead to more wrinkling.

Silcox suggests navigating emotions by making time to pause and experience them. This can help you process and digest emotions rather than repress them, which means they’re less likely to show up on the skin later.

Tabone says that heightened emotional states can impair the function of our organs.

He enjoys meditating in an infrared sauna.

He says paying attention to the sensations in the body and navigating the mental game when the heat gets intense is a wonderful practice in the practice of meditation.

However, you don’t need a sauna to start a meditation practice.

In fact, Tabone emphasizes that you can make your entire skin care routine a mindfulness practice.

He says that a few minutes to care for your body can bring calmness, help you be present, and promote better health.

High-quality sleep

It’s called ‘beauty sleep’ for a reason.

Tabone says sleep is one of the pillars of health.

Making sure you’re getting enough high quality sleep that involves 7 or more hours and complete sleep cycles can Reduce stress. and encourage skin repair.

Foods to support the skin and gut

When it comes to skin health, Silcox focuses on eating anti-inflammatory foods.

Her favorites are:

Tabone advocates healthy fats, noting that fat-soluble vitamins play an important role in skin integrity.

“I also focus on nose-to-tail animal consumption,” he says. “The different building blocks present in muscle meats, organs, connective tissues, and bones supply the nutrients necessary for optimal body function.”

Sun exposure and sun protection

Tabone tries to get plenty of early and late day sunlight exposure as well as moderate peak sun exposure.

At the same time, it’s essential to stay protected with sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater and sun protective clothing, no matter the weather.

Drink plenty of water

“Drinking ample clean water is also incredibly important,” says Tabone. “I consume purified water that’s been enriched with trace minerals to promote cellular hydration.”

Dehydration with whatever water you have available is essential for healthy skin.

“Tabone says that you don’t need the latest and greatest device, supplement, or procedure for optimal skin health. Your body is always trying to heal itself.”

His recipe? A balanced diet, movement, nature, rest, and community.

Silcox has one piece of advice when it comes to boiling it all down.

She says with a laugh that she should chill out.

Crystal Hoshaw is a mother, writer, and longtime yoga practitioner. She has taught in private studios, gyms, and in one-on-one settings in Los Angeles, Thailand, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares mindful strategies for self-care through online courses. You can find her on Instagram.