A Derm Recommends Breathwork For Easing Redness—Here’s Why
If it’s Friday evening and you just finished off a high-stress work week, your skin probably isn’t looking its best—which is totally common. It's partly due to the lack of time you might care for your complexion with a busy schedule, but it could also come from within.
Yes, stressed-out skin is a real thing. You know, redness, blotchy patches, perhaps a few breakouts, maybe even dryness. You can reach for topical remedies, but a derm suggests pairing them with this no-cost activity.
How breathwork helps ease stressed-out skin.
The task at hand: breathwork. “Daily meditation and breathwork is key to overall balance,” board-certified dermatologist Gary Goldfaden, M.D., tells mbg. “Through meditation, our bodies release the happy hormones, serotonin and oxytocin, which influence our mood and ultimately reduce our chances of depression."
On a physical level, meditation can even decrease tension-related pain, such as headaches, muscle, joint pains, etc. All of these physical tensions (and mental stressors) can also lead to “stressed-out skin,” he explains.
Goldfaden recommends doing a series of breathing exercises to trigger a calming simulation throughout your body, cooling off that internal heat that comes with mental and physical stress.
Research backs these benefits1, and your routine doesn’t have to be too complicated. Something as simple as making your exhale longer than your inhale has been shown to send the body into a more parasympathetic state, lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels.
How to do it.
There are countless breathwork exercises out there, but try the relaxing breath from Andrew Weil, M.D., also known as 4-7-8 breathing, to easily calm the body when you're feeling overwhelmed.
It slows the heart rate, brings your consciousness to the present moment, and slows the nervous system, bringing a feeling of calm and peace. This breath exercise is ideal when you feel overwhelmed, anxious, angry, triggered, and have trouble sleeping.
The traditional way of doing 4-7-8 breathing is to empty the lungs of air, breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, exhale out of the mouth for eight seconds, and repeat at least four times.
If you want to add a visual aid, imagine breathing in grounding, happy energy and breathing out any negative feelings you’re experiencing. You may just find your skin beginning to look and feel better after adding this ritual to your routine—and you can find more breathwork methods here, if you’re curious.
Stress manifests on the skin, so it’s no wonder redness and breakouts tend to follow a hectic few days. Of course, topicals can help (a few to note here) but breathwork might be the missing step that will help calm your mind, ease your internal heat, and soothe your stressed-out skin.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.