Crying and your Skin

Crying and your skin shape magazine

May 30, 2021

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Have you been a little more tearful due to skyrocketing stress levels—does this mean we should try being more diligent about our skincare routine?
If you find yourself dealing with significant stress, your skin more than definitely will show this in some form. I often describe skin conditions as a ‘check engine’ light given how many different ways stress can impact our skin.
If you do find yourself tearful as a result of stress, it is important to take an extra moment for understanding the role your skin care routine can be essential.
First off, crying will cause irritation and swelling from salty tears being wiped away or drying on the skin. Hydrating and protecting your skin to replenish the lost volume from salt pulling moisture out of the skin will help reduce irritation.
The other key benefit to stepping up your skin care routine is the simple fact that this time you take for yourself can help reduce stress levels and calm your nerves. A skincare routine is truly just about you- it is focused on your well being!

Are there some of benefits that crying can have on our skin?  What is the mechanism behind how one leads to the other? 
A ‘good cry’ can really improve a person’s state of mind, reduce stress levels, and serve as a way to regain balance. The release from emotional tears shed can be just what one needs to move forward. 
The salt in tears can likely benefit the skin by drying out extra oil or sebum and potentially killing bacteria on the skin that can cause acne. 

Are there ways crying can harm our skin? What is the mechanism behind how one leads to the other?
On the contrary, salty tears can throw the fluid equilibrium  in the skin off balance. The salt can irritate the delicate skin around the eyes. Tears drain through the lacrimal duct into the nose. The thinned out nasal secretions can inflamed or irritate the nostrils and creases around the nose. For those prone to rosacea, breakouts can worsen due to increase pressure in the capillaries of the skin from fluid tension. This can also lead to broken blood vessels.

What are the best ways to care for your skin after crying, section-by-section, and what makes each step so important?
The lower eyelid itself will appear swollen and inflamed. The infraorbital sulcus (the groove that separates the eye from the cheek) may be deeper, darker and more exaggerated. The nares or nostrils will appear widened, reddish and slightly swollen. The lips can appear puffy. The skin of the cheeks will be flush from increased pressure and perhaps a bit drier from the irritation of friction from wiping tears and the tears drying the skin directly.
How is it best to care for this area after crying?
After crying, take a cool wash cloth and soothe the skin. Bringing down the redness and inflammation can help reduce swelling. Massage a moisturizer into the skin starting at the center of the face and working the fingers outwards. The moisturizer will hydrate the skin while the massage will push excess fluid into the lymphatics. The irritation from wiping tears can also be avoided by trying to use a softer tissue or handkerchief to avoid abrading the skin from a harsh surface. 
Is it safe to say that any reason for crying (grief, heartbreak, sadness, etc.) can ultimately be boiled down to emotional stress, and your body trying unload the excess stress levels swirling around your body?
Crying can be considered a manifestation of both physical and/or emotional stress on the body. In the absence of these stresses, crying can also be a symptom of irritation to the eyes directly such as a corneal abrasion, foreign object or other irritation that can lead to the development of tears.  Reflexive tears in response to irritation may contain antibodies as a defense mechanism against potential infectious agents.  Emotional tears contain proteins and possible hormones as well. 

Besides salt, what do emotional tears contain? Are there proteins and/or hormones that might be beneficial to skin?
Tears are composed of water and salt in addition to some electrolytes such as chloride, potassium, magnesium and bicarbonate as well as proteins, lipids and mucin.

What is the mechanism behind how the salt in tears can throw the fluid equilibrium of the skin off balance?
The fluid equilibrium of the skin can be thrown off balance from tears by two main factors. The first is the volume of tears produced overwhelms the drainage system through the lacrimal duct. The overflow of tears accumulates in the soft tissue around the eyes.  The second mechanism involved is osmosis of water from the ‘hypotonic' tears to the ‘hypertonic’ fluid in the soft tissue around the eyes. 

What is the mechanism behind how crying causes puffiness/swelling of the eyes and face?
The general puffiness and swelling of the face and eyes from crying is the result of the factors of tears that lead to a shift in the fluid equilibrium of the skin as well as an additional factor. When crying there is vasodilation or dilation of the blood vessels in and around the eyes to increase blood flow.  This leads to redness and flushing in addition to the general appearance of puffiness.

Does the salt in tears help oily skin types by potentially drying out excess oil, is this relatable at all to exposure to salt water from the ocean?
There are numerous anecdotal reports of salt water, especially from the ocean, clearing acne.  The thought is that the water evaporates leaving salt behind.  This salt can dry out the excess oil on the skin and potentially work to exfoliate as well.  

What causes the increased pressure that results in flushed cheeks as you are crying?
Flushing of the cheeks is the result of vasodilation of the blood vessels in the face. 

Do you have any post-cry moisturizer and eye cream recommendations?
Sometimes the simplest way to improve facial swelling post cry is to use a Jade Roller to massage out the excess fluid built up in the soft tissue to encourage it back to the lymphatic system to drain.  
Another simple trick is to take your facial moisturizer and stick it in the refrigerator before applying to the skin.  The coolness of the cream will lead to vasoconstriction to reduce facial swelling.
Ponds Cold Cream can be a very effective option for this as well as our AmberSkinCare Cucumber Herbal Eye Gel.


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