Psychodermatology and the ‘neuroglow’: shining a spotlight on the mind-skin axis

By Holly Treacy

- Last updated on GMT

More skin care brands are bridging the gap between mental wellbeing and beauty (Image: Getty)
More skin care brands are bridging the gap between mental wellbeing and beauty (Image: Getty)

Related tags Skin Hair Mintel Trend Cosmetics Marketing

As we see a profound shift towards a more holistic approach to skin care and self-care: we explore psychodermatology and the 'neuroglow' concept.

As more beauty consumers prioritise their mental wellbeing alongside their physical appearance, the concept of ‘mind-body beauty’ or psychodermatology has gained momentum. 

This paradigm recognises the intricate connection between our psychological state and the health of our skin, paving the way for innovative practices that bridge the gap between neuroscience and skin care.

Psychodermatology, at its core, explores the interplay between psychological wellbeing and skin health, offering a compelling framework for understanding and addressing a myriad of skin concerns.

Although many of experts have long been aware that there was a link between the state of mind and the appearance of the skin, more research​ is clearly pointing toward this being fact.

The market intelligence agency Mintel named ‘Neuroglow’ one of its key beauty trends for 2024, as it appears that the mind-body connection could be vital in elevating beauty’s role in whole-body health.

Right now, this transformative trend has numerous implications for the skin care category that is centred around a more holistic approach.

Spotlight on psychodermatology

According to consultant dermatologists and spokespeople for the British Skin Foundation, Dr Bernard Ho and Dr Alia Ahmed, psychodermatology is like a bridge connecting our skin and our emotions.

“It’s all about how our mental health and wellbeing affects our skin and vice versa. So, when we’re stressed, anxious, or feeling down, it can make our existing skin conditions worse, such as acne or eczema. On the flip side, dealing with skin problems can also mess with our mood and make us feel pretty lousy.”

They continued: “Doctors in this field take a holistic approach, treating both the skin and the emotional issues, together. They might use creams, light therapy, or systemic treatments for the skin, along with talking therapy or relaxation techniques to help with the stress and mood side of things. The goal? To make us feel better inside and out – tackling both the skin troubles and the emotional toll they can take." 

Neuroglow: skin and stress

Modern living appears to be contributing to people feeling more stressed​ than ever. Therefore, addressing psychological factors through stress reduction practices can positively impact the appearance of skin and hair and enhance overall wellbeing. 

Cosmetic doctor of Elite Aesthetics clinic, Dr Shirin Lakhani, said she has started to take a more holistic approach to ageing. “It’s not about anti-ageing anymore but looking and feeling your best whether that’s through good skincare, your beauty regime or health. It’s about rejuvenation to be able to live life to the fullest, rather than how you look,” she explained.

“People are leaning more towards the overall long-term approach of optimal skin, physical and mental health solutions,” she continued. “Companies are investing heavily in tracking health data to develop methods to improve ‘healthspan’ – the portion of your life that you spend healthy.”

“As we live longer there is a higher incidence of chronic disease and there has been a shift towards preventative and lifestyle medicine, particularly in the private sector.”

Psychodermatology delves into the intricate link between psychological wellbeing and skin health, while neurocosmetics delve deeper into the connection between the mind and the skin.

By integrating sensory experiences, products and rituals can be tailored to not only nourish the skin but also uplift the spirits, promoting a healthier complexion from within.

More skin care brands are bridging the gap between mental wellbeing and beauty, with lines that impacts the senses and soothe the skin at the same time.

For example, UK beauty and wellness brand Neal’s Yard Remedies has a Women’s Balance range that features "relaxing patchouli, uplifting geranium, nurturing rose and rejuvenating frankincense to calm the mind" while skin is nourished with macadamia and sea buckthorn oils. According to the brand, the range is designed to “give a sense of balance to the body’s natural rhythms and cycles.” 

Meanwhile, startup brand Eyeam,​ which was co-founded by The Organic Pharmacy’s Margo Marrone, has taken this a step further and works on a holistic basis that considers the mind-gut axis as much as the skin itself.

Understanding the mind-skin connection

Medical professionals in dermatology and psychology are recognising the interconnectedness between emotional wellness and skin health. For those suffering from conditions exacerbated by stress, these new breakthroughs in beauty innovation may offer a beacon of hope and help aid professionals to understand certain skin conditions on a deeper level.

It also supports the notion that topical self-care isn’t necessarily the antidote to stress, rather shining a spotlight on the importance of nourishing mental health alongside skincare, which, in turn, paves the way for a more profound understanding of inside-out beauty, or beauty from within.

There’s been much research into the impact a thriving gut microbiome can have on the body and skin, and we’re seeing cosmetics brands carefully considering the health benefits of ingredients included in beauty products. Think prebiotics, to protect and balance the microbiome;​ soothing and healing ingredients; and active herbal ingredients such as ashwagandha, to reduce stress.
Furthermore, the skinification of hair​ is another trend for 2024, and a major part of this is scalp health now being imperative in hair product NPD, which is taking the mind-skin connection beyond the facial skin care category.  

Certified trichologist and guest hair expert for brand Hair Proud, Angela Onuoha, explains that “the scalp is the soil that our hair grows on,” and says “Our scalp is home to millions of both good and bad bacteria, fungi and viruses which we call microorganisms. Similar to our gut, the good microorganisms have a very important role in protecting the scalp creating a physical barrier.”

It seems that the fusion of mind-body skin care is more than just a beauty trend. Instead, it appears to be a movement and a fundamental shift towards more holistic beauty solutions for every category.

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