Does Love Make Your Skin Better?

Is it a myth that love gives you glowy, rosy-hued skin? Well, studies show that being all lovey-dovey can affect your skin, mood, and sleep for the better. So, pucker up lovebirds in the name of well-rested, healthy skin!

Hugging, smooching or getting it on (Marvin Gaye style) triggers the release of oxytocin: a neuropeptide dubbed the “lurve” hormone, it’s a romantic high. Below we’ve got the nerdie reasoning on how oxytocin can facilitate skin healing, reduce stress-induced inflammation and improve beauty sleep so nightly skin functions can run smoothly. Quite a CV, innit?

How does being in love affect our skin?

Facilitates wound healing

Falling in love is more than butterflies, blushes and warm fuzzies thanks to oxytocin as the hormone facilitates wound healing. Social interaction and bonding with partners are key for mental well-being which directly impacts skin health through the brain-skin connection.

A study conducted by the Ohio State University in 2004 found that mice with elevated oxytocin levels from social interaction had better wound recovery than mice that were isolated with high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).

Another study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology (bit of a mouthful) in 2010 concluded that couples with higher oxytocin levels after bonding in an interaction task healed wounds faster than couples with lower levels of oxytocin. So, get started on those deep, meaningful conversations!

Reduces the effects of stress on skin

Our body responds to stress by producing cortisol: the fight-flight hormone with a bad rep for skin health. A spike in cortisol can trigger blemishes or inflammation in skin conditions like rosacea, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Flare-ups of skin conditions occur when we’re low because stress weakens our immune system and kickstarts an inflammatory response, yay. Similarly, a breakout is common when hoomans are stressed since cortisol disrupts our body’s hormones and stimulates sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum.

Luckily, heroic oxytocin counteracts cortisol and its effects on skin. A study published in Experimental Dermatology in 2013 found that oxytocin modulates the key processes that are impaired in atopic dermatitis. The data suggested that oxytocin was a crucial “mediator in skin homeostasis and clinically relevant to stressed skin conditions like atopic dermatitis”.

We’re not saying love cures inflammatory skin conditions because that’s not the case. But a positive mindset and less stress makes it easier to manage inflammatory skin conditions and their flare-ups.

More nerdiness: What is collagen?

Can prevent skin ageing

It’s only natural for hoomans’ skin to develop a few wrinkles, lose its elasticity and sag as we get older. But we’re all on board if we can keep our skin supple, cushiony and line-free for a little longer.

A recent study published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2019 investigated oxytocin and its impact in intrinsic skin ageing. To briefly explain, intrinsic skin ageing is caused by natural factors inside our body (like hormones or our genetics) instead of extrinsic factors such as smoking or UV damage.

The results proved that oxytocin suppressed cellular senescence (a type of deterioration from ageing). The catch? Oxytocin only prevented skin cells deteriorating in younger participants and found that it didn’t have much of an effect on older participants. Therefore, oxytocin is beneficial for protecting young skin against age-related disorders.

Better sleep

A study conducted on rats by the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in 2003 found that oxytocin helped to modulate their sleep-wake behaviour. In a nutshell, rats with elevated oxytocin under stress-free conditions had improved sleep.

Catching restful, plentiful Zzz’s is very important for skin health. That’s because our slumbers are key for supporting skin functions that only occur during nighttime. Whilst we’re catching flies, our skin has a chance to repair, hydrate and protect itself. Our biggest organ (nerdie fact) speeds up our skin cells’ renewal rate to slough away dead skin and repair daytime damage from UV exposure and pollution. There’s good reason it’s called our beauty sleep!

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