Backstage, as a Makeup Artist, I often spot physical signs of stress in the body before anyone else. Stress often shows in the skin, hair and nails before anywhere else. I often say I’m a bit like a paramedic backstage in the makeup room! I always have to be prepared; a plaster, ointment, the name of a great nutritionalist, a supplement that really works, the name of a dermatologist, masseuse or wellness retreat– my little black book is endless!
Common Stress-Related Complaints
Psoriasis flares up when the body is stressed, run down and exhausted. When the immune system is compromised, Psoriasis worsens, leading to red, scaly patches of skin, which may become so dry that they crack, itch and bleed. The nails often become ridged and lined too.
When the body is stressed, it creates inflammation as a natural reaction to protect the body in its vulnerable state. If you are prone to eczema, this shows up in the form of a flare up of the skin, which becomes extremely dry, itchy and red – commonly on the hands, neck, face and in the creases of the arms and knees.
Often, one of the key indicators of stress is not being able to get to sleep or at least not getting good quality sleep when you do manage to drift off. Lack of sleep is often visible in the form of dark circles under the eyes or puffiness under the eye.
When the body is stressed, it throws off hormone balances and the body becomes run down which can start to show itself physically in the form of acne, weight gain, headaches and the slow healing of cuts and bruises. Read my guides to banishing acne, here and here.
Over a long period of time, stress can cause an imbalance in the gut. Stress hormones like Cortisol interfere with the body’s “good bacteria” found in the digestive system and can lead to problems like Candida, a yeast infection, responsible for rashes in the skin weight gain and depression.
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease linked with stress. When the body is stressed, the immune system breaks down, the hair follicles become inflamed and hairs fall out suddenly in patches. It can take 3 months for hair loss to start to show physically after a period of stress occurs.
My Relaxation Favourites
Meditation is a great way to switch off. Stress related illness is often linked to the mind, so meditating is one of the best ways to relax your body and mind all in one. Plus it’ll help you have a great night’s sleep! Check out my meditation guide.
Jurlique do a great revitalising aromatherapy mist that is perfect for uplifting the senses, containing Lavender, Orange, Lemon and Bergamot essential oils – it not only smells gorgeous and you can use on the face, body and even as a room spray.
Get Some Sleep
A good night’s sleep is so important as it’s the time when the body repairs and heals itself. Good quality sleep enables us to think more clearly, switch off and physical signs of stress have chance to repair. I love Sarah Chapman’s Overnight Facial Supplement as they really help me to sleep well.
It’s common sense, but a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do to help support your body. Avoid processed food and eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals from fresh, seasonal produce. I find cooking really therapeutic and it will make a huge difference to the way you look and feel if you eat right. My book, Eat Beautiful, contains a herbal pharmacy section, which is dedicated to helping you find a natural remedy for specific skin concerns.
Take a Moment
In the middle of a busy day, it’s really important to take a moment to yourself to reset your balance. I always carry a bottle of Decleor’s Aromessence Rose D’Orient Oil Serum with me, it's 100% natural and contains Damask Rose to protect, soothe and strengthen the skin (great for allergies), calming Camomile to soothe and anti-inflammatory Blackcurrant Seed. I rub three drops between my palms to warm it up and release the essential oils, then I inhale deeply from my diaphragm - it smells amazing and I find it super relaxing - be sure to press excess oil into your hands, neck and décolletage to keep these areas of skin hydrated and soft.
Lymphatic drainage is really important for getting the fluids moving and draining when then skin is sluggish and retaining water. I always make time to massage the face using a cream cleanser before I apply makeup, and the difference in the skin is clearly visible just from the massage alone – puffy eyes and cheeks are reduced and the face looks more contoured and fresher. My technique has been perfected with years of practise, but if you want to try it at home, this Darphin Sonic Cleansing and Massaging tool is a good option.
Keep it Natural
Susanne Kaufmann’s Calming Herbal Whey Bath is made using whey from lavender and lemon balm, designed to relax, detoxify and soften the skin. Sometimes a relaxing bath is just the thing to ease stress after a busy day. Whey proteins are also credited with relieving the symptoms of eczema too and I love that Susanne’s natural range is free from artificial fragrances, which are often triggers for skin complaints.
Light a Candle
Sometimes, something as simple as lighting a candle can really help to relax and balance energy levels. I often light candles at home and in my office, and one of the fragrances that I find particularly relaxing is Byredo’s Loose Lips fragrance. It contains Morello Cherry, Iris Root, Violet and Rice Powder, inspired by the smell of 1980’s lipsticks.
Work it Out
Exercise is a total miracle worker when it comes to relieving stress. It works to naturally reduce stress hormones and release endorphins into the body, which improve your mood and relieve pain. I love to make exercise fun and especially enjoy dancing to music at Body By Simone. It feels so great to get the body moving and the music is a real mood enhancer too.
Mauli’s Himalayan Healing Salts are great for improving wellbeing when you are stressed. The salts are a mix of mineral-rich Himalayan pink salts, therapeutic oils and powdered rose quartz for the ultimate soothing, calming treatment. All you need to do is add a handful of the salts into running bath water and allow 15 minutes for the healing elements to absorb into the skin. Don’t rinse the body afterwards – just towel dry yourself.
Calm on the Go
This Works’ Stress Check Hair Elixir is a great way to help stay calm and composed in the middle of a busy, stressful day. A leave-in, lightweight non-greasy hair mist, this Hair Elixir is designed to add shine, but releases the scent of Neroli, Patchouli, Lavender, Vetivert and Chamomile which relieve anxiety as you move around throughout the day.