Lifestyle Factors Affecting The Skin

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Lifestyle Factors Affecting The Skin, Part 1

The two ways sleep affects skin is by skin hydration and wound healing. The two ways that stress affects skin is by triggering skin diseases and causing occurrence of skin inflammation.


1. Skin Hydration

  • A study found out that hydration of the facial skin surface were significantly reduced after sleep deprivation.
  • The study also highlights that facial skin hydration, acidity, desquamation homogeneity, viscoelastic properties, and complexion luminosity are significantly affected by sleep quality (or length).

2. Wound Healing

  • A study discovered that sleep deprivation affects skin extensibility and elasticity.
  • Another study found out that 72 hours of sleep restriction with 2 hours sleep per night delays skin barrier recovery.
  • According to Dr. Mikhail Varshavski, an osteopathic doctor, during non-REM sleep (about four to eight hours of sleep usually experienced in the early onset of a deep sleep), skin-repairing process occurs.
  • According to Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, neurologist, systems neuroscientist, sleep medicine physician, and chief medical officer of Fusion Health, anti-inflammatory cytokines are produces during sleep which help heal and reduce the impact of damages done throughout the day.
  • According to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, an internist specializing in chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and pain management, and the author of “From Fatigued to Fantastic”, poor sleep results in premature aging because during sleep body releases growth hormone.


1. Skin Inflammation

  • As a result of internal inflammation, the skin may break outs or experience flare-ups of psoriasis or eczema.
  • In terms of skin, when the body produces too much cortisol, the immune system is weakened, causing an inflammatory response such as an eczema or psoriasis flare-up.

2. Triggers Skin Diseases

  • Some individuals might experience flare-ups of seborrheic dermatitis, a cousin to psoriasis and dandruff, Eidelman said. The condition could result in redness and flaking of the scalp.
  • "Stress may induce AD lesions by impairing the skin barrier function and by favoring a switching of the immune response towards the lymphocyte response. These changes may underpin the pathogenic pathways in the onset of the disease. Furthermore, chronic stress is able to reduce the activity of NK cells, leading to an increased vulnerability to infection, hence an aggravation of skin lesions".
  • According to Waldorf, ‘under stress we regress’ and there are ill-defined but accepted pathways between the stress response and other skin disorders like acne, eczema, and psoriasis, all of which can flare with chronic sleep deprivation.
  • There is a strong relationship between high stress perception and common skin conditions for highly stressed medical students reporting that they had higher prevalence of oily, waxy patches on scalp and/or flaky scalp (dandruff), dry/sore rash, itchy skin, itchy rash on their hands, and hair loss, warts, and acne".
  • The number of skin complaints by highly stressed students were higher than less stressed students which shows that various common skin conditions could appear in context of psychological stress among medical students.


There is not enough information on the public domain concerning the prevalence and impact of factors on different skin types (e.g. oily, dry) as well as ethnicities, gender, and age.

First, we looked into scholarly articles on educational websites and public databases such Google Scholar to find study demographics. We also searched and PubMed for studies regarding the connection between sleep and stress on skin. There were limited studies found. Therefore, we could not corroborate the data for the analysis of skin types, ethnicities, gender, and age.

Next, we tried looking for other statistics we could use in triangulation in organizations' website that are focused on skin health, sleep, and stress. The goal was to find related studies that showed demographics for patients with stress-related skin problems or those who were sleep-deprived with skin conditions. We only found statistics that covered each topic — sleep, skin, and stress. But, there was nothing about the correlation between them.

Further, we tried to gather data points from surveys and patient reports that may address the skin type, ethnicities, gender, and age of people with sleep- and stress-related skin issues. We searched in scholarly websites and health focused websites such as NIH, MDPI journals, etc. The goal was to find helpful insights on the common occurrences of these scenarios. There was no relevant data found and the surveys found were not US-focused and specific to the targets of the study which constrained an analysis of the demographics.

The unavailability of the data maybe due to the very specific nature of the topic and the limited number of studies conducted on them. And, we were unable to triangulate the info due to insufficient data points.

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Lifestyle Factors Affecting The Skin, Part 2

Research shows that regular, moderate exercise contributes to healthy skin through improved circulation, increased oxygenation, reduced glycation, and improved cellular homeostasis. Studies indicate that a proper diet is key to healthy skin that ages gracefully, with micro-nutrients, anti-inflammatory foods, a vegan diet, and antioxidants playing key roles in achieving cellular homeostasis, and in reducing oxidative stress, actinic damage, glycation, and higher GrimAge. Research demonstrates that the more a person flies, the more likely that person is to see increased aging of the skin due to oxidative stress, and the more likely s/he is to be diagnosed with skin cancer.


  • A study published in Frontiers in Endocrinology noted that regular, moderate physical exercise positively correlates to fighting the effects of aging at the cellular level, which directly affects the aging of the skin. When a person follows an exercise program (especially one specifically designed for them), their “health-related quality of life and functional capabilities” are improved, while the “physiological changes and comorbidities associated with aging” are reduced. This impacts a person’s overall health, which includes the quality and aging-look/feel of their skin.
  • The same study noted that exercise helps a person’s cells maintain homeostasis (stable physiological state), and reduces the senescent cell generation that leads to aging. When cells have to fight harder to maintain homeostasis, like they would for those getting less exercise, then they lose their regenerative capacity which increases the aging process. Thus, exercise helps prevent aging of the skin at the cellular level.
  • Moderate exercise contributes to skin health via improved circulation and increased oxygenation of the dermal layer. Regularly exercising also reduces glycation indexes. Glycation is the process by which the body fights the process of aging; the higher the index, the more wrinkles and loss of elasticity in the skin.
  • Although no studies have shown a correlation between heavy exercise and degenerative skin processes, more-than-moderate (heavy) exercise has been shown to increase oxidative stress in the skin, which may lead to signs of early aging.
  • Results from a study quote in JAMA Dermatology showed that a 20-week regimen of specific facial exercises could reduce the appearance of aging in women’s faces through increases in upper and lower cheek fullness (restoring some skin laxity). This study was the first clinical trial assessing “facial exercise as a modality for improving skin appearance”.
  • A study on how human epigenetic clocks (internal cellular aging processes) are affected by exercise showed that a person’s GrimAge (biomarker for DNA methylation responsible for aging) is positively affected by more exercise. In laymen’s terms, this means that a person looks younger (skin-wise) and actually is younger (body-wise, if not chronologically) if they get more exercise.


  • Dietary components (or the lack thereof) can act as triggers in increasing aging processes and related skin damage, while increasing (or reducing) certain foods in one’s diet can help keep skin from experiencing damage that can increase aging.
  • While some nutrients in people’s diets have shown to increase the signs of aging in the skin, others have shown to “reduce oxidative damage and possibly repair cellular damage”. Recent research on internal aging processes and anti-inflammatory diets have shown a positive correlation to the anti-aging effects of that type of diet. Importance is placed on getting a variety of the right nutrients into the body so the facilitation (absorption) of those nutrients is promoted.
  • Anti-inflammatory diets and diets rich in vitamin C, linoleic acid, and collagen (a dietary supplement) are more likely to contribute to young-looking skin, while diets heavy in sugars, fats, and meats are likely to contribute to older-looking skin. Of note, antioxidants added to the diet, especially a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods, promote “cell signaling, mitochondrial activity, and reduce the oxidative stress of cells” all leading to less aging of the skin at the cellular level, and more younger-looking appearance overall.
  • People who are overweight (or obese) are more at risk for glycation, which can negatively affect their skin via reduced elasticity, more wrinkles, and higher rigidity. The more unhealthy the diet, the more free radicals are created that damage skin.
  • Older adults, and especially those on more-restrictive diets, are more likely to have skin experiencing oxidative stress. This is due to the lower potential of micronutrients in their diets, or the potential of older adults to be able to absorb fewer micronutrients than they could when they were younger.
  • Women with diets higher in vegetables and olive oil had better skin protection against actinic damage, which is the damage caused by exposure to UV radiation. Additionally, women with a lot of potassium and vitamins A and C in their diets had fewer wrinkles than those with less.
  • A study from the Journal of Dermatological Treatment showed that the injured skin of vegans healed more quickly than the skin of omnivores.


  • An article by Dr. Ray Shilling noted that those who fly more frequently have been shown to have increased rates of certain kinds of cancers, including skin cancers. In fact, female flight attendants were diagnosed with a variety of cancers twice that of the average woman; the rates were not as high for male flight attendants, though they were above the average male’s rates.
  • Specifically, melanoma was diagnosed 2.27 times more often and non-melanoma cancers were diagnosed 4.09 times more often in flight attendants than in the control group of the study discussed. Non-melanoma cancers included basal cell and squamous cell cancers originating on the skin.
  • For pilots, the statistics of increased cancer rates are even higher likely due to the increased exposure of cosmic radiation through the windshields of the planes. All data in the study points to the negative effects on the skin of a frequent flyer.
  • A study on “cosmic radiation-induced oxidative stress at commercial flight altitude” indicated that the alpha particles from radiation exposure have a “low-penetration depth so they remain blocked in the skin” and cause significant oxidative stress. Additionally, the radiation produces low-energy electrons which react with cells causing protein damage; these particles are absorbed through the “skin epidermis and partially within the dermis”.
  • The study also indicates a variety of dietary and topical applications that can positively (or negatively) affect the amount of damage caused to the skin from the cosmic radiation effects of flying. These include increases in dietary intake of cruciferous vegetables before flights and the topical administration of green tea extracts pre-flight, among others.


We began by breaking down our search into three separate categories one for each of the identified factors. For each factor, we searched primarily for journal and scientific articles from 2018 and 2019, then utilized non-journal (yet highly-respected) sites to find additional information to provide you with the most robust response. These searches led us to a small variety of useful sources for each factor, which we have included for you here. Of note, there was very little available information from the past two years on the effects of plane travel and skin/aging. However, we were able to find some solid studies done on flight attendants, which provided us with useful information that could correlate to the general population of flight-takers, and that allowed us to provide a comparison on prevalence in frequent flyers vs the general population.

We also focused specifically on the US first, though many of the findings returned were from global publications or were related to studies conducted in other countries; we have included selections from both. Additionally, while we attempted to focus mainly on studies and articles related to different skin types and demographics, there was very little found relating to these specific aspects. That said, many studies included specific populations (like women or older individuals) which allowed us to provide an array of related statistics you may find useful. None of the studies found specifically indicated prevalence factors, however, several provided enough information to correlate directly to how the factors would affect the average person (of any demographic or skin type). Where specific information was found on prevalence, it was included.

Did this report spark your curiosity?


From Part 01
  • "We observed that sebum and PIE were more intense in the afternoon than in the morning without any impact of sleep deprivation on these parameters. On the contrary, hydration of the skin surface, pH and viscoelastic properties of the skin e.g. extensibility (Uf), elasticity (Ue), and delayed extensibility (Uv) as well as well single desquamating corneocytes (invisible desquamation) and radiance were significantly reduced after sleep deprivation."
  • "This study identifies several important skin facial parameters significantly affected by acute sleep deprivation e.g. hydration, acidity, desquamation homogeneity, viscoelastic properties and complexion luminosity and highlights the importance of the sleep quality (or length) in physiological skin homeostasis, aesthetic and comfort."
  • "Using this model we showed that 72-h of sleep restriction with 2-h sleep per night in a laboratory delays skin barrier recovery, thus underscoring the importance of adequate sleep when feasible. However, when adequate sleep is not feasible (e.g., military personnel in training/combat, emergency service personnel, ultra endurance athletic competitions), these findings suggest that maintaining protein intake at the higher end of the MDRIs in combination with a multi-nutrient beverage (i.e., containing arginine, glutamine, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids) may attenuate some decrements in local immune responses observed during sleep restriction relative to a lower protein intake without nutrient supplementation, albeit without affecting skin barrier recovery. "
  • "“When you sleep, you’re going through choreographed cycles of REM and non-REM [states] that can’t happen when you’re awake — even if you’re lying down with your eyes closed,” Dr. Durmer says, adding that it’s largely during non-REM sleep (about four of eight hours of sleep, and usually experienced in the early onset of a deep sleep, he adds), that this skin-repairing process occurs."
  • "“You make anti-inflammatory cytokines while you sleep, which help heal and reduce the impact of damages done throughout the day,” says Durmer, citing sun exposure and pollution as typical daily skin damagers."
  • "“Poor sleep results in premature aging. This is because there are three key times that our body releases growth hormone,” says Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, an internist specializing in chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and pain management, and the author of “From Fatigued to Fantastic”."
  • "“Naps, meditation, yoga, exercise [and] psychotherapy are all useful,” Waldorf says. “In general, ‘under stress we regress’, and there are ill-defined but accepted pathways between the stress response and other skin disorders like acne, eczema and psoriasis, all of which can flare with chronic sleep deprivation.”"
  • "The present study further supports the strong relationship between high stress perception and common skin conditions. Highly stressed medical students had higher prevalence of oily, waxy patches on scalp and/or flakey scalp (dandruff), dry/sore rash, itchy skin, itchy rash on their hands, and hair loss, warts, and acne."
  • "Furthermore, the number of skin complaints by each highly stressed students were higher than less stressed students. Therefore, various common skin conditions could appear in context of psychological stress among medical students."
  • "When compared to good sleepers, poor sleepers had a higher prevalence of skin disease with worse severity. Graveyard shift workers with poor sleep may have increased skin disease severity."