I had a good, long cry this weekend after the trailer for the new Lion King came up as an ad on my phone. What can I say? I find the Disney classic very moving. This was shortly after I’d done my morning skincare routine and, after the tears dried, it got me pondering: do I need to cleanse all over again? Are tears good or bad skin? And so, I made it my mission to find out the effects of crying on the skin (and not just because I had no other plans).
Crying is a natural response to emotions (or pesky debris getting into your eyes) and we all do it with various levels of frequency. Kim Kardashian even gets paid to do it.
But how does this watery outburst affect our skin? The answer might surprise you, especially if you turn into a blotchy toad like me.
The most obvious benefit of crying for us, both outside and inside, is that it is an effective way of getting rid of stress-related hormones such as cortisol. This is a good thing physically as well as psychologically because cortisol has been linked to premature signs of ageing, but you can opt to have it leak out your eyeballs instead. You know, to prevent damage.
But wait – aren’t tears essentially just saltwater? Yes and no. Tears contain a bacteria-killing enzyme called lysozyme, and this can help to dry out breakouts and clear up mild skin irritations overnight. In fact, the only real downside to crying (other than the reason your eyes started leaking in the first place) is that it might mean having to redo your makeup and dealing with puffy eyes.
In other words, to be afraid to express your emotions, regardless of how messy they might be, you’re doing your brain, your heart and your skin a favour.
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