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Image Source: POPSUGAR / Maria del Rio

Before you drop hundreds on a moisturiser or a highly recommended serum to help with your problem skin, it's time to ask your body a few probing questions — because all that fancy skin care isn't going to do its job if your body is stressed out and unhealthy.

The interrogation should sound a little like this:

  1. Are you stressed? No, but really, are you?
  2. What's your diet like?

Let's begin with stress. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the health of your outer layers is determined by your inner ones, and a stress-free body (and mind!) works absolute wonders for your skin. During a recent visit to All Saints Skin Clinic, we spoke with the esthetician Chiza about the cost of skin care and how it can seem a lot of money for little return.

Chiza admits that closer inspection of one's skin barrier often proves the root of a lot of common skin concerns to be more than skin deep. What we brush off as manageable, everyday stress — job dissatisfaction, roommate drama, family problems, financial strain — can actually wreak havoc on your skin barrier without you realising.

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"It's amazing how cortisol (the stress hormone) is elevated when we're under stress," says Chiza. "It has an inflammatory response and causes an inflammatory response in the body. So, it's not uncommon to see that kind of reactivity in the skin of someone who's highly stressed." But that's not all. The knock-on effect of inflammation and higher cortisol levels in the body is an increase in waxy sebum that is associated with breakouts. "Breakouts along the jawline are very common in people who are stressed as well," adds Chiza. "So really, the skin, being the largest organ of the body, is very much connected to what goes on internally."

And just like that, we've moved from stress to the gut — another factor that renders your skin care's powers, well, powerless if you're not treating it like a queen.

"The gut is where we have trillions of different microbes, yeast, bacteria, that all communicate," says Chiza. "And when you have a poor diet, you're then feeding the microbes that tend to be the more opportunistic ones, the pathogens, and they will then communicate when you feed them bad food and you then have this cycle of craving bad food to feed them." It's not rocket science: feed your body right, stress less, and you'll feed the good bacteria and lower your body's inflammatory response. Then, and only then, will your skin care do the rest.

It's all about a holistic approach to reaching your clear-skin goals. A healthy lifestyle, great skin care, and no stress equals dream skin.

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