Diary / Beauty / Sep 26, 2022
Can Meditation Actually Improve Your Skin?
Written by: Michele Ross
Photography by: Ben Ritter
Perhaps you have a solid meditation practice going, or maybe you have it on your self-care to-do list. If you’re in the latter camp and it’s been on your list for a while, you probably need a gentle nudge to get started. With that in mind, what if I told you that there are clinically proven beauty benefits of meditation?
To discover in greater detail how a consistent meditation practice can boost your skin—not to mention manage stress and improve health outcomes across the board—we caught up with Suze Yalof Schwartz, founder and CEO of the Unplug Meditation app.
The beauty benefits of meditation
Stress manifests in many forms. It not only wreaks havoc on your mental health, but also your body and skin. So once you find healthy ways to manage your stress—such as through meditation—you can anticipate healthier skin as a result.
“Stress can not only cause pimples but also wrinkles, and meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress,” Schwartz begins. She cites results from a study carried out by Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar, who discovered that participants who meditated for just 23 minutes a day for eight weeks shrunk their amygdala (the region of the brain responsible for stress and anxiety).
The better you manage stress and the fewer stress hormones circulating in your body, the more you’ll be at ease—and the more your skin will express that via a reduction in inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne.
From there, Schwartz shares that the pro-aging benefits of meditation extend to your skin and longevity alike. First, when you meditate, “you consciously relax every part of your body including the muscles in your face, which can help prevent wrinkles,” she says. She then refers to a study by Elizabeth Blackburn, a Nobel laureate and biological researcher who specialized in the science of telomeres (the protective ends of chromosomes). “Blackburn showed that meditation can help repair and lengthen telomeres. Normally, telomeres shorten as you age and become damaged, yet her research showed that meditation can actually reverse that process,” Schwartz explains.
In simple terms, these findings prove that meditation has been scientifically proven to slow down the aging process from the inside out. A longer life and fresh, radiant skin to boot? Sign us up!
3 Tips for starting a meditation practice
By now, you may be itching to start your meditation practice to yield these benefits yourself. Fortunately, Schwartz offers her expert tips to help you do just that.
1. Start slowly As is the case with most wellness wins, healthy habits repeated consistently over time will produce the best results.
While Schwartz says that you can reduce stress through meditation in as little as 16 seconds, she advises that people start slowly each day and build their way up: “During week one, start with one minute a day; week two, five minutes a day; week three, 10 minutes a day.” Once you get into your daily meditation groove, it’ll slowly develop into a habit that becomes second nature.
Within this timeline, you’ll begin to notice the mind-body benefits of meditation, and your skin may start to exhibit more ease and less inflammation.
2. Aim for a morning meditation Schwartz recommends practicing meditation when you first wake up so you can start the day off on the right foot (and minimize the chances of falling into the trap of avoidance later on).
“For me, the easiest way to meditate is before I even get out of bed,” she says. She invites us to follow in her footsteps to start an “RCM” (rise, click, meditate) practice: “I open my eyes, click the Meditation of the Day on the Unplug app (which is always 10 minutes or less), and do my daily meditation. Then I start my day from there.”
Guided meditations are often helpful when you first test the waters of meditation, so apps can be a great option to help you develop your practice and stay accountable. However, know that you can always meditate on your own by closing your eyes, tuning into the sensations in your body, and observing (not judging) any thoughts that pass.
3. Be consistent and stay patient Again, consistency is the name of the game when it comes to sustaining the benefits of meditation for your skin and greater health.
Schwartz advises going for the full seven days a week—no ifs, ands, or buts. “When you meditate every day, you will start to really feel the benefits for yourself,” she continues. “In fact, a teacher once said to me that the best way to know if your meditation practice is working is to stop doing it for a week and see what happens!”
Finally, be sure to stay patient as meditation is called a practice for a reason; remember that it’s not a race or a one-and-done deal.
The bottom line
“Meditation is truly a form of self-care and there are so many reasons to practice it,” Schwartz reminds us. In addition to the benefits detailed above, she says that an ongoing practice helps to improve focus, boost memory, improve sleep, and decrease mood imbalances.
Moreover, it offers us the space, calm, and clarity we need to respond to people and situations (especially the difficult ones) with mindfulness and grace. “Usually when we get stressed, we react and then regret it—but when you meditate, you cultivate the ability to pause your reaction so that you can respond thoughtfully instead,” she continues.
All things considered, since meditation can physically change the structure of your brain for the better, adopting a daily practice is one of the best things you can do not only for your skin, but also your overall sense of well-being for days and years to come.
For more meditation tips and inspiration, follow Unplug on Instagram. To get your meditation practice going today, justBOBBI readers can use this link for a free one-month subscription to the Unplug app.