WE DON’T NEED TO TELL YOU THAT YOU’RE STRESSED—YOU ALREADY KNOW IT. YOU’RE PROBABLY READING THIS IN BETWEEN CHECKING YOUR EMAIL, FIGURING OUT WHERE TO GO FOR YOUR NEXT MEETING AND TRYING TO KEEP YOUR NEGLECTED COLLEGE FRIENDS' GROUP MESSAGE CHAT ALIVE, ALL WHILE ATTEMPTING TO MAKE YOURSELF LOOK SUPER BUSY TO IMPRESS YOUR BOSS. (SIDE NOTE: WHY IS TRYING TO LOOK LIKE YOU’RE WORKING SO MUCH HARDER THAN ACTUALLY DOING WORK?) BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THE STRESS IS AFFECTING YOUR SKIN.
There’s a dark side to being a millennial (aged 18-33) or Gen Xer (age 34-47), and the word starts with a big, scary, looming “A.” Anxiety, according to the APA, is at a record high, especially among youth. More than 52% of Millenials report that they've lost sleep in the past month due to stress, and 44% of millenials report stress has made them angry or irritable. Meanwhile, twentysomething celebrities like Demi Lovato and Emma Stone have become the poster children for overcoming an anxiety disorder.
Beauty brands have been pushing their anti-aging products on younger consumers, in an attempt to combat the superficial side effects of anxiety and stress. To find out what’s what, we spoke with one of our favorite dermatologists, Rebecca Kazin, MD, Medical Director of Johns Hopkins Dermatology and Cosmetic Center.
Is anxiety causing your skin condition? Not exactly. According to Dr. Kazin, “General stress does not cause skin conditions, but it certainly can worsen it.” Basically, the side effects of anxiety - such as not taking good care of yourself, staying up nights, making your body work in overdrive to meet a deadline - can inflame a preexisting condition even more.
Millenial Skin Conditions
Dr. Kazin says she’s noticed an increase in skin stress among Millennial patients, especially when it comes to rosacrea and acne. We all want clear skin, and that’s part of the problem: millenials are “so focused on prevention that they tend to overcompensate and go overboard with certain products.” Dr. Kazin says the biggest culprits are products with a high dose of retinol, or are over-exfoliating.
Who's Most at Risk
Fair-skinned Caucasians are most prone to premature aging, according to Dr. Kazin. If you don’t take good care of yourself and eat right, that can wreak havoc on your skin. We all know that sun exposure, tanning, cigarette smoking and other lifestyle factors can contribute to how fast we age, but there’s another secret reason we can’t easily control—pollution. People who live in places with high levels of air pollutants have a 20% higher risk of death from cancer than people who live in less-polluted areas.
What Should You Do?
Dr. Kazin’s says your #1 job to prevent skin stress is to “Be proactive. The earlier you start taking care of your skin, the less repair work later. Maintenance is key.” However, just because you dig the packaging or promises on an SPF product, doesn't mean it's the right one for you. “One product or active ingredient isn’t for every body,” so Dr. Kazin recommends you buy a small amount of a prospective brand and make sure it doesn’t aggravate your skin before you fully commit.
Best On-the-Go SPF Option
Stressed about your entry-level job or internship that’s got you running around getting coffee and completing other people’s errands all day? Dr. Kazin recommends you try powder sunscreen, because it allows for easy reapplication throughout the day over your makeup. She also says to look for physical (vs. chemical) SPFs, which contain zinc and titanium, causing less breakouts.
Beauty Brands are Right
So, should you buy anti-aging serums as a young woman? Dr. Kazin says absolutely: “Prevention is key. Antioxidants help neutralize the skin stressors we face everyday. By slowing that process down, you are going to slow the collagen breakdown that causes aging.”