How Stress and Sleep Can Affect Your Skin

Beki Hoxha, North America General Manager, FOREO



In this age of connectivity, understanding how sleep and stress are connected and how it affects our everyday lives is the first step towards better overall health and self-care. Stress is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” We experience the negative consequences of too much stress in both physical and emotional ways. Stress can begin to alter our sleeping patterns and disrupt our physical wellness in the form of various skin issues. Stress leads to inflammation, which aggravates inflammatory skin conditions such as acne and eczema. These conditions weaken the outer layer of skin, resulting in moisture loss and increased sensitivity.
Many people experience sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation, however, can lead to dull skin, fine lines and dark eye circles. When we lack enough sleep, our bodies release more of the stress hormone cortisol. In high amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps our skin smooth and vibrant. Cortisol encourages glycation, a process that hardens and damages collagen and increases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Your body recovers moisture and boosts the flow of blood to the skin while you sleep, allowing you to wake with healthier, plumped skin. Seven-to-nine quality hours of sleep each night ensures that the body has the time it needs to counteract the skin-damaging effects of cortisol and stress.

What is your nighttime skin routine?

I wash my face with Alastin gentle cleanser, then exfoliate with Lancer polish. I use a special blend seaweed toner before applying my serums and moisturizers. After my toner, I use IS Clinical Pro Heal. If I have a breakout I also use IS Clinical Active serum as a spot treatment. I top that off with Circcell ABO serum face rejuvenation serum and Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Youth Activating Oil. I also take collagen and chlorophyll.  

How important is it to prioritize a good night’s sleep?

A good night’s sleep makes all the difference for me. I think getting enough sleep is just as important as having a good diet and exercise plan. When you are well rested you benefit both mentally and physically.

With a busy schedule, how do you ensure you’re getting enough sleep?

I make sure to always get in a nap whenever I can. Even if I can’t drift off into sleep, I at least close my eyes and meditate to give my mind a rest and my body a chance to relax.

What helps you fall asleep and stay asleep?

Chamomile and lavender tea and melatonin help me fall asleep when I can’t. Reading a book in a warm bath with Epsom salt and lavender oil helps also. I love to light Nag Champa incense or a candle. I turn on my cool mist humidifier and sometimes add lavender oil. I have a very comfy bed with silk sheets, silk pillowcases and special pillows from my chiropractor. Once I fall asleep, it’s pretty easy for me to stay asleep because my bed is my favorite place in the world!

How important is it to prioritize high-quality skin care products?

Quality skin care is very important to me. Quality to means it is made from quality ingredients. It doesn’t always have to be expensive. There are lots of natural products that I use that you can find at any grocery store. Lavender oil, calendula oil, neem oil and oatmeal are some of my faves to use and mix into different products or to use when I have a specific skin concern. 

What tips and tricks do you have to maintain a youthful appearance?

A few years ago I purchased a Kangen water machine that alkalizes your water. I use that water on my face as a toner throughout the day as well as drink the 9.5 ph water. Staying hydrated keeps you looking young and fresh. Make sure to get lots of rest and eat as healthy as possible, not just for a youthful appearance, but for your overall mood and energy level. Blueberries are my favorite snack and they have lots of antioxidants. Never forget to wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day. Limit sun exposure to about 20 minutes a day. Last but not least, meditation and breathing exercises really help reduce the stress that eventually starts to show up on our skin. 

You’re so outspoken about the importance of quality skin care. What advice do you have for someone struggling to find the right routine?

My advice would be to not give up. I tried so many things before I found my perfect routine. What works for one person may not work for the next so it’s truly trial and error. Your best bet is to start off with products that are mild and natural. Do your research first and see a dermatologist.  

Obviously, higher-end treatments and products can come at a high cost. Why is it worth the investment?

When you invest in skin care and skin treatments, you are essentially investing in yourself. There is nothing and no-one more deserving of your investments than you. Some treatments and products may seem too expensive, but if they work for you they are worth saving up to get. Skin is the human body’s largest organ, so it’s definitely worth taking care of. In my opinion, taking care of your skin is essential in practicing self-love and self-care. 

You have such a busy schedule, do you have any tips for keeping up with skin care on the go, especially while you’re traveling?

I have small travel-size containers that I fill up with my favorite products. That way, when I’m traveling and on the go, I make sure I have all my products with me. 

How has prioritizing your skin care helped your self-image?

I use to have horrible breakouts. I would pick on my face and sleep in makeup. My skin routine was trash. I use to be so insecure about my face that I wouldn’t leave the house. I was afraid that everyone who was looking at me was staring at my bumps and scars. It took me years to realize that my skin was a direct reflection of how I was caring for myself. My diet sucked, I wasn’t exercising and I had a very negative outlook on life and myself. Once I realized this, I started to really practice self-care and everything changed, including my skin. Taking the time to find the right skincare and skincare routine was just a small part of the transformation that really had to start from within. I had to realize that I was worthy and capable of taking better care of myself first.