If you’ve ever experienced acne, you’ll know how stressful the skin condition can be. But according to psychotherapist and Disciple Skincare founder Charlotte Ferguson, most of our skin conditions are actually caused by one main factor: stress. “Recent studies have shown that although genes and environment do play a part. Over 75% of skin issues are caused by stress and hormone imbalances,” Ferguson tells us.
But how does stress affect acne and other skin conditions? Well, it turns out it’s all down to hormone imbalances. Feelings of anxiety and stress increase the hormone cortisol. “In small doses, cortisol serves as a great biological coping mechanism, but if our body is exposed to persistently high levels of cortisol, it can wreak havoc on your skin,” Ferguson explains. “Over time, the imbalance of cortisol can directly interfere with the testosterone pathway and lead to acne, breakouts and other skin conditions,” she says.
It’s a bit of a catch-22: Once you feel stressed, the cortisol kicks in and your skin condition worsens, causing you to feel even more stressed. So what can you do?
Through research, Ferguson discovered what she calls the “three most important factors” when it comes to skin issues: stress, sebum and bacteria. After suffering from a major flare-up of acne during a stressful period of her life (she was also prescribed Accutane by her general practitioner), she decided to take matters into her own hands and develop a more holistic approach to skincare.
Disciple Skincare, which is available at Cult Beauty, blends three main ingredients—adaptogens, prebiotics and linoleic acids—that all work to directly tackle skin issues without aggravating it. Adaptogens help to improve your body’s ability to adapt to stress and help to rebalance hormones. Prebiotics nourish good bacteria on the surface of the skin, which, in turn, reduces inflammation and flight breakouts. Linoleic acid works to balance the skins natural sebum production.
There are currently only four products in the natural skincare range, all of which are hand-crafted in small batches and suit all skin types.
Along with using the right skincare, Ferguson explains there are other things you can do to help both your skin and your mood. She’s a big believer in “cyclical living,” which involves harnessing the phases of your menstrual cycle and adapting your lifestyle to suit.
“Let’s face it: Sometimes life is really, really stressful and there isn’t much we can do about it. Instead of being a slave to your menstrual cycle, you can really harness the power of it. This involves a bit of planning, but once you get your head around it, I think it’s one of the most empowering things you can do.
“For example, I now know that in the luteal phase, I have no energy, get irritated and want to sleep a lot. So during this week, I’ll avoid family things and won’t book in any drinks with friends. I’ll just do a chilled yoga class and download a load of films I have been meaning to watch. This really helps me feel less anxious. Then, in my follicular phase, I know I’ll have more energy and openness, so I’ll maybe try that new gym class and meet up with an old friend for a drink. Working with your hormones is super important for good mental health, and everyone can do it. It costs nothing and there are tons of resources, apps and evidence-based research papers online to help,” says Ferguson.
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This is perfect for bringing stressed skin back into moments of calm and clarity. Keep this bottle handy at all times for an instant refresh. It’s packed with hormone-balancing geranium and collagen-boosting copper peptides, plus Disciple Skincare’s much loved botanical adaptogens. All of these ingredients help your skin adapt to stressful situations.
This hardworking night oil helps to regenerate skin cells overnight. It also reduces pigmentation, dark spots, pore size and fine lines. It combines rose hip seed oil to help improve skin’s texture and elasticity, whilst the retinyl and vitamin-rich watermelon seed oil penetrate the deeper levels of the skin. Apply this nightly to reduce inflammation, relieve stress and balance hormones.
With alpha hydroxy acids and nourishing fruit oils, this cleanser and cloth are perfect for gently exfoliating the skin, encouraging cell renewal and giving you the appearance of a more radiant, glowing complexion. It’s best used as a second cleanse and leaves your skin feeling supple and soft.
Designed specifically for acne-prone skin, this 100% active botanical face oil contains everything your stressed skin is crying out for. With a blend of essential fatty acids, hormone-balancing essential oils and bad bacteria-fighting prebiotics, your skin will feel nourished. It’ll also give your skin a radiant boost.
Opening Image: Mango