Chanel presents a new video series entitled “In Conversation with Dermatologist Amy Wechlser.” The videos feature Dr. Amy Wechsler, one of the few doctors in the world who is board certified in both dermatology and psychiatry and a trusted advisor to CHANEL Skincare, who shares her unique point of view on the infinite connections between the mind and body, and their effect on skin.
Chanel did a Q&A with Dr. Amy Wechsler – read about her theories on beautiful skin and check out the first three videos in the series below…
How are mind and body connected?
The mind and body are intertwined when it comes to treating skin. I look at beauty from both the inside and the outside, because I know that they are inextricably linked. I’m both a psychiatrist and a dermatologist. I’m interested in treating the most external organ, the skin, and the most internal one, the brain. I find the connections between the two to be interesting and infinite. My experience in psychiatry complements my dermatology practice like no other specialty could. A lot of patients come for help with their appearance and end up talking about life issues. Skin care can be so emotional. So much of how we think affects how we look, and vice versa.
I have always believed in treating the body as intrinsically connected to the mind. I’ve always believed in a very strong mind-body, and, more specifically, mind-skin connection. There’s the basic science of it, where there are so many interconnections between the brain and the skin in terms of the circulation, neurotransmitters and hormones. The skin has the largest surface area of any organ of the body and has so many connections to the brain that it’s bi-directional. Anything that affects our mind, in either a positive or negative way, will definitely affect the skin and vice versa.
I get to treat patients as a whole, and try to take care of people in their entirety because I think about not only their skin, but also what’s going on in their lives, in their minds, at work, their stress levels, their relationships, how they’re sleeping, how they’re feeling. It makes me a better doctor. I get to know people really well, and in getting to know them really well, I get to take better care of them.
How do stress and lack of sleep affect skin?
It’s incredible – the skin has its own endocrine system and makes some of its own molecules. Stress and sleep deprivation are usually talked about in a negative way when connected to skin. We’re all stressed out, but I think the paradigm is sleep deprivation. Most people who are stressed don’t sleep very well.
There are molecules that heal the skin, and there are molecules that may cause inflammation, which can damage the skin. Inflammation has been a buzzword in medicine for the last few years. We want everything to be anti-inflammatory because inflammation causes everything from wrinkles to heart attacks to acne.
When we’re awake and stressed, inflammation in the skin breaks down collagen, and breaking down collagen causes wrinkles. It also disrupts the skin’s barrier and there’s more of what’s called trans-epidermal water loss – meaning that the skin dries out more. Dry skin looks bad and appears more wrinkled. If your skin’s dried out, you’re more prone to rashes and skin irritation; plus you look more tired.
How can you break the stress patterns inevitable in life?
The good news is that you can break the cycle of stress – either by reducing stressful conditions or sleeping more. You’ll bathe the skin in those anti-inflammatory molecules, like endorphins and growth hormones, which are at their highest while we’re sleeping. If someone isn’t feeling good about themselves on the inside, it will not be reflected on the outside no matter what she’s wearing. Stress can dry the skin out, because cells don’t turn over as well. This causes a dull, sallow appearance. People also tend to abandon their skincare routines when they are stressed, so I always recommend taking five minutes a day to take care of your skin by washing your face, moisturizing, and applying sun protection. I love CHANEL Hydra Beauty Crème for a year-round moisturizer that hydrates really well and also offers anti-oxidant protection followed by CHANEL UV Essentiel SPF 50, which I wear religiously year round. Small ways of taking care of yourself build on each other.