Skin Fatigue: What Is It and How Do You Know If You Have It?

BY Janeca Racho · February 20, 2018

Woman drying face with a towel 1

In this fast-paced and ever-changing world, sometimes you have to make sacrifices and take less-than-ideal shortcuts just to cope and keep up with the demands of daily life. Aside from the obvious toll that these take on your mind and body, unhealthy lifestyle choices—and other external irritants that you encounter daily—can also lead to another frequently experienced but not often discussed skin concern. We’re talking about skin fatigue.

To further understand what skin fatigue is, Dermstore talked to Nicolas Travis, founder of Allies of Skin—a Singapore-born skin care brand that sets itself apart with its adaptogenic range (more on this later) of products that fit seamlessly into the high-velocity lives of ultra-busy multi-hyphenates. As both chemist and originator of his skin care line, Travis himself leads a hectic lifestyle and knows all too well that highly stressful environments, frequent traveling and long workdays can only lead to tired and troubled skin.

What Is Skin Fatigue?

According to Travis, skin fatigue is mainly caused by a combination of lifestyle- and stress-related factors—like lack of sleep and exercise, smoking and unhealthy diet, to name a few—as well as environmental aggressors like pollution and sun exposure. When under constant stress, your adrenal glands release the stress hormone cortisol that, in turn, affects blood flow throughout the body and damages the collagen in your skin. This accelerates the aging process and hinders your skin’s ability to repair itself, resulting to skin fatigue.

“The main indicators of skin fatigue are dullness, large pores and persistent dryness. Fatigued skin also doesn’t reflect light well, so skin looks generally tired,” explains Travis. “If you find your skin looking sallow, feeling more parched than usual and no longer responding to the products you’ve been using, your skin is most probably fatigued.”

To effectively fight back against skin fatigue, it’s important to know where and how to start. Below, Travis shares everything you need to know about skin fatigue.

1. Skin fatigue is one of your skin’s ways of telling you that something is not quite right.

As the largest organ in the body, the skin is your first line of defense against external damage, so it’s naturally important to always keep it in fighting shape, particularly its delicate barrier. “When the skin barrier is healthy, skin retains moisture and nutrients better,” says Travis. “When it is compromised, problems beyond the superficial will start surfacing.”

Hence, when signs of fatigue start to become more pronounced, it’s your skin’s call to action, alerting you of potential concerns that you might have unintentionally ignored.

2. Your lifestyle choices may make you more susceptible to skin fatigue.

People who are frequently exposed to smoke from cigarettes and pollution, travel often and live in the city are more likely to develop skin fatigue, says Travis. “Smoking depletes the body’s natural supply of antioxidants, while pollution and smog from large cities can cause damage to the skin’s barrier over time. Signs of fatigue become more obvious starting in the late twenties,” he adds.

3. A few lifestyle adjustments can make a world of difference for your skin.

Putting your Netflix subscription to good use may sound like a good way to de-stress, but if you want to be kinder to your skin, consider having a good night’ sleep instead. “Even if it’s just an extra 30 minutes every day, it adds up,” says Travis. Squeezing in a regular workout routine will also help in boosting essential circulation and in strengthening your immunity.”

Another way you can fight off the signs of skin fatigue, premature aging and acne is by reducing inflammation, and Travis says this can be easily done by incorporating essential fatty acids into your diet (from wild salmon and avocado, for example). “I’m a fan of fish oil and blackcurrant oil supplements for overall skin health and resveratrol, pterostilbene and vitamin C for antioxidant protection,” he shares.

4. Topical products with the right ingredients can neutralize the signs of skin fatigue.

Antioxidants and retinol are your skin’s best allies,” says Travis. Antioxidants work by protecting the skin from oxidative stress caused by free radicals and are known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits. As for retinol, Travis says it’s “one of the best things you can use on your skin.”

“It treats acne, pigmentation and wrinkles, speeds up cell renewal and refines large pores so skin looks less tired and more radiant,” he explains. But if you’re wary of known retinol side effects, Travis suggests looking into encapsulated retinol as they are “next-generation versions that give all the benefits without any of the traditional irritation or dryness.”

Other ingredients to look for in your skin care products include l-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), resveratrol, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and nutrient-dense oils like argan, rosehip and acai oils, adds Travis.

5. Adaptogens can help the skin fight off environmental stressors and boost its natural defenses.

In a nutshell, adaptogens are herbs that reverse and reduce fatigue and the toxic effects of stress on the body. They get their name from their ability to adapt to the body’s needs and to respond to constantly changing stressors that you encounter in your daily life. “They boost the body’s natural defenses and keep it in a state of healthy equilibrium,” says Travis.

This is the same concept that Allies of Skin has successfully applied into its adaptogenic skin care line. The brand combines research-backed, tried-and-tested adaptogens like moringa and licorice-root extract with antioxidant powerhouses like glutathione and vitamins C and E to create products that work in synergy with your skin to address its specific needs while complementing your demanding lifestyle. “This two-pronged approach ensures that all boxes are checked. They also have the added benefit of symbiosis as glutathione recycles vitamin C and prolongs its potency,” Travis adds.

That said, Allies of Skin’s products “function as nutrient reservoirs for the skin, supplementing the skin with all the nutrients it needs to regenerate and repair itself,” shares Travis. Much like a multi-vitamin, these products intuitively provide necessary boost and protection based on the needs and condition of your skin. “If your skin is dehydrated, the hydrators and moisture magnets will be activated. If you are in a polluted city, the antioxidants will kick in to protect from free radical damage,” explains Travis.

The brand’s 1A All-Day Mask is the world’s first-day mask that’s designed to simulate the benefits of a good night’s sleep, featuring a leave-on formula that reduces puffiness and creates a protective barrier against smoke and pollution. Meanwhile, the 1A Overnight Mask is an overnight peel that contains the patented Ally-R™, a stabilized form of retinol that encourages cell renewal and rejuvenates tired skin with essential fatty acids and trace nutrients. “It repairs fatigued skin overnight—all you have to do is sleep,” adds Travis.

Janeca Racho

With over 10 years of writing and editing experience, Janeca Racho has worked with clients in the fashion, entertainment, food, health and travel industries. An adventurer at heart, she will gladly trade her heels for ... Read More >