Healthy Skin

Introducing neurocosmetics: skincare that aims to lift our mood

We all want our skincare to help us look good. But, a new wave of products – known as neurocosmetics – are offering benefits that are far more than skin deep.

This emerging area of skincare sees specially formulated products that claim to be able to boost our mood by tapping into the body’s brain-skin connection. The idea is that these products interact with the communication signals between the skin and our brain to modulate how we’re feeling.

And science is beginning to back these claims up, too. Here, skincare experts explain just how brands are bringing together beauty with the latest research in neuroscience.

What is the brain-skin connection?

Before we dive into the specifics, cosmetic dermatologist ​​Dr Anna Andrienko from Dr Ducu Clinics, shares this quick lesson in how the brain interacts with the skin:

“The brain-skin connection, often referred to as the ‘brain-skin axis,’ is a fascinating area of research that explores the intricate relationship between our mental and emotional states and the health of our skin,” she says . ”The brain-skin axis operates through various pathways, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which regulates our body’s stress response. Emerging research suggests that neurotransmitters and neuropeptides [chemical messengers] produced in the brain can directly influence skin function and repair processes.”

We know that stress can have a huge impact on our hormones, and can go on to trigger skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. So, it’s not a huge stretch to think that skincare products formulated with soothing ingredients can help mitigate the impact of stress.

“The gut-brain-skin axis highlights the interconnectedness of these systems, with imbalances in gut health potentially manifesting as skin issues,” says Anna. “​​The health of our skin can also affect our mental and emotional wellbeing. Skin issues, particularly those that affect appearance, can lead to feelings of self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and even depression or anxiety.

“Managing skin conditions effectively not only improves physical symptoms but also enhances psychological wellbeing.”

What are neurocosmetics?

Some experts believe that, by harnessing ingredients known to stimulate the skin’s neuroreceptors (like menthol, CBD, adaptogens, and peptides) in our skincare, we can modulate the peripheral nervous system and the skin’s intricate network of tiny nerve endings.

“The research on neurocosmetics is still in its early stages, [but] there are promising theories about the brain-skin axis and the potential for certain ingredients to stimulate neuroreceptors,” says Dr Emmaline Ashley, a cosmetic physician specialising in medical aesthetics and science-based skincare.

Dermatologists and cosmetic scientists are particularly excited about how ingredients derived from plant extracts can combat inflammatory responses related to skin stress and ageing.

In one small study, researchers assessed the efficacy of using CBD to reduce the irritation that often comes with using retinol. When CBD and retinol were combined into one topical serum, tolerance of the product was high, with 90% of the participants willing to recommend the treatment to a friend. The researchers concluded that the combination of retinol and CBD was ‘effective at improving skin quality, including static and dynamic wrinkles’.

But what about our mood? Well, research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science looked into whether skincare formulas could trigger emotions directly through their effects on the skin. In the promising study, the team concluded that: ‘Skin care formulas were shown to play a role in emotional potential and the types of emotion generated’.

Can I buy neurocosmetics?

Getting clued up on what’s in our skincare is a great start when it comes to trailling the benefits of neurocosmetics. Plant-based heroes, such as calming lavender and soothing chamomile, have well-researched benefits showing how they can soothe our minds and boost our wellbeing.

Experts are most excited by the impact of CBD for skin and mind, but other ingredients, such as menthol and capsaicin, are of interest as well. Studies show that they can trigger hot and cold sensations in the body.

Try it for yourself

Biogenic CBD Rebalancing Night Cream, £34

With a soothing lavender scent and 1000MG of CBD, this night cream works to restore surface cells and leave skin feeling soft and nourished.

BetterYou Magnesium Sleep Lotion, £11.95 (save 15% with the code LIZLOVES)

Contains a blend of magnesium oil and natural lavender to help relax tired muscles, slow sensory activity, and quieten the mind, allowing for a deeper sleep.

NEOM Perfect Night’s Sleep Face Oil, £12

A powerful formula of antioxidants and vitamin-rich oils to help prepare you for deep sleep, while working to restore skin overnight.

Words: Stacey Carter

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