5 Natural Ways to Help Regulate Your Cortisol and Improve Your Skin

Many of our bodily functions operate on a circadian rhythm that helps them regulate their actions’ timing. 

We’re all probably most familiar with how our circadian rhythm dictates our sleep and wake cycles. But, numerous other essential metabolic functions have circadian rhythms that are equally important to our body. 

Previously, I took a deep dive into what your circadian rhythm is and why it’s important. I want to take this topic even deeper and focus specifically on cortisol, its circadian rhythm, and how it impacts your skin.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone produced and released by your adrenal glands. 

Hormones, like glucocorticoids, help coordinate different functions in the body by carrying messages through your bloodstream to your organs, skin, muscles, and other tissues. Glucocorticoids like cortisol help suppress inflammation in the body’s tissues and control metabolism in your muscle, fat, liver, and bones. And they also impact your sleep-wake cycles.

Even though cortisol affects nearly every organ in the body, it plays a significant role in regulating the body’s response to stress, hence its nickname, the “stress hormone.”

Impacts of Cortisol on the Body

Cortisol plays many essential roles throughout your body, including

  • Regulating your body’s stress response
  • Suppressing inflammation
  • Managing your body’s metabolism
  • Increasing and regulating blood sugar
  • Regulating blood pressure
  • Aiding in your sleep-wake cycle

Optimum cortisol levels are necessary to maintain nearly every body system including your nervous, respiratory, immune, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, reproductive, and integumentary (skin, hair, nails, and glands) systems. And if you have consistently high or low cortisol levels, your overall health can be negatively impacted. 

The Cortisol-Sleep Connection

Your body has quite an elaborate system to control your cortisol. The creation and release of cortisol are controlled by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which follows a 24-hour circadian rhythm. Following this rhythm, your cortisol levels rise rapidly in the morning and fall slowly throughout the day. 

HPA axis dysfunctions can play a role in many sleep disorders and lead to poor or shortened sleep.

How Cortisol Affects the Skin

During periods of stress, the body responds by releasing both adrenaline and cortisol. During a healthy stress response, your body’s temporary rise in these hormones serves as a tremendous short-term coping mechanism and has little effect on the skin.

However, when the body experiences chronic stress, these hormones remain active for long periods causing unwanted side effects, including increased breakouts, dryness, irritation, or redness.

People who suffer from chronic stress will sustain high levels of cortisol, which can negatively affect the skin in several ways, including

Acne. High levels of cortisol trigger the skin’s sebaceous glands to produce more sebum (oil) which clogs the pores leading to the development of acne, causing inflammation and bacteria.

Increased occurrence of skin conditions. Increased cortisol levels can aggravate skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. 

Dry and itchy skin. Cortisol slows the production of beneficial oils in our skin. Along with the inflammatory immune response associated with stress, dryness, itching, and inflamed skin is common.

Decreased collagen production. Collagen production naturally decreases with age, but chronically elevated cortisol reduces the natural proteins responsible for skin elasticity which can accelerate signs of aging, such as lines and wrinkles, age spots, and dullness.

Natural Ways to Help Regulate Your Cortisol and Improve Your Skin

There isn’t a single magic trick to help you regulate your cortisol. Instead, it’s about practicing sustainable, mindful, and healthy lifestyle choices that are simple and effective at keeping your body (and skin) healthy.

Eat well and exercise daily. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise not only helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body, but they can also help balance stress hormones, boost your energy, and improve your mood. 

Practice healthy sleep habits. Get your beauty rest. Sleep is essential for the body. It’s the time that your body heals and restores itself, and it helps increase your resilience to stress. I recommend aiming for 7 to 10 hours of sleep each night.

Reduce and manage stress. A clean, calm mind can benefit the entire body, including our skin. Finding ways to reduce and manage your stress can decrease flare-ups of skin conditions, help regulate your hormones, improve your sleep, and enhance your mood. Including a mindfulness practice in your daily routine is a great place to start.

Maintain a good skincare routine. When stressed out or not feeling our best, it’s easy to skip our skincare routine – but having a good skincare routine does more than protect your skin. A skincare routine is a great way to practice self-care, slow down, and relax. All of which help reduce stress and regulate your cortisol.

Foster healthy relationships. Engaging in healthy relationships helps calm our minds, ease our tensions, and reduce stress, thereby regulating our cortisol levels. Try fostering a community that helps provide you with a sense of belonging and connectedness.

Skin Treatments to Help Address Signs of Stress

Stress is one of the major causes of increased levels of cortisol and disruptions to your circadian rhythms. So beyond practicing lifestyle and mindset techniques to cope with stress, several cosmetic treatments help the skin manage stress and reverse the adverse effects of stress.

A few stress-fighting skincare treatments include

  • Chemical Peels. A topically applied formula that revitalizes the skin’s surface by creating an even and controlled shedding of the skin to create a smoother skin surface while also removing damaged skin.
  • Facials. Numerous types of facials focus on cleansing, exfoliating, and rehydrating skin to leave it feeling refreshed and renewed.
  • Micro-needling. A skin treatment that spurs the production of new collagen to help thicken the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, acne scarring, sun damage, and more.   
  • Acupuncture. A combination of facial and body acupuncture can reduce stress, boost health, and restore your skin to a radiant glow.

Uncover Clear Skin with SkinClock

Your skin’s appearance reflects your unique state of overall health, stress level, age, and environmental factors. Digging deeper to reveal what may be holding you back from achieving the healthy, glowing skin you desire can help you heal your skin from the inside out. 

Join me on a skin healing journey different from anything you’ve done before. Learn what the health of your skin may be saying about what’s happening inside your body.

Discover how you can get clear skin using my SkinClock Method.

Join my waitlist today and discover how to STOP your unpredictable breakouts…so you can finally have the youthful, radiant skin you desire!