Are tears good for your skin? Here’s what the experts say

Web illustration by Yaja’ Mulcare

Crying is essential for eye health. It is a natural biological process that helps you express and process pain and emotions. And no matter how often you shed tears, you might be wondering if crying is good for your skin, too.

It turns out that practicing certain habits during and after crying can make a difference in how your skin reacts. We spoke with several doctors to explain how good hygiene and skin care can keep your skin clean and clear, regardless of water.

For most people, crying is unavoidable. And while a box of tissues (or your shirt sleeve) can help wipe away some tears, it’s not uncommon to experience mild facial irritation after a good crying fit.

One of the reasons for this mild irritation, according to Art of Skin MD board-certified dermatologist Melanie Palm, MD, is that the tears are isotonic (close to normal saline solution used in intravenous injection). [IV] fluid preparations), but the pH of our tears is higher than that of our skin.

“Tears are usually close to 7 and skin is closer to 5.5 or 6,” says Palm. So, while short-term exposure to tears is not harmful, long-term exposure can lead to changes in skin hydration or mild irritation due to pH difference.

But it’s not just the pH that matters. What you do during and after crying can make a difference.

“Rubbing your eyes or using certain tissues to wipe your face can affect your skin and cause inflammation, darken skin, and even irritate acne in some cases,” warns Angie Seelal, PA-C, of ​​Advanced Dermatology. pc.

The production of tears and their discharge have an effect on your entire face.

“When you cry, the blood vessels around your eyes, face, and nose dilate with increased blood flow resulting in swelling, puffiness, and redness,” says Dagny Zhu, MD, board-certified ophthalmologist.

To help constrict blood vessels and reduce symptoms after crying, Zhu recommends washing your face with cold water or applying cold compresses to your eyelids.

Since crying dehydrates you through the loss of electrolytes, Seelal also advises drinking water and applying moisturizer. She recommends using a moisturizer containing squalene, ceramides or hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin and reduce irritation.

In order to better understand how your skin reacts to tears, it is important to know what they are made of. As the national eye institute explains, tears are mostly water, but they actually have three layers:

The outer oily layer keeps tears from drying too quickly, while the inner mucous layer allows the tear film to stick to your eyes. The tear film is a thin layer of tears that always covers our eyes around the cornea (transparent outer layer of the eyeball). The middle aqueous layer is the thickest, keeping the eyes moist and nourishing their tissues.

There are three main categories of tears, defined by different triggers and compositions. Basal and reflex tears exist to protect the eye from debris or irritants, while emotional tears respond to feelings. Humans are actually the only species known to produce emotional tears.

Tears are also filled with electrolytes, which explains their salty taste.

Electrolytes are essential minerals that have an electrical charge and are needed for many bodily functions. They are in your blood, sweat and urine.

When you lose a lot of electrolytes by sweating, crying, or going to the bathroom, you need to replenish them by drinking water and eating electrolyte-rich foods.

It’s no secret that a good cry can be really nice. Although at first you may feel exhausted after the tears have stopped, crying has long been thought to have a number of physical and mental health benefits.

These include:

  • stress relief
  • boost your mood
  • detoxify the body
  • releasing endorphins (“feel-good” chemicals)

Crying is the body’s natural way of dealing with pain and emotions. However, everyone’s crying practices are different and research is still ongoing.

It seems that crying particularly helps appease a person when accompanied by outward support and comfort.

Crying excessively or uncontrollably can be a symptom of a more serious physical or mental health problem. When it comes to mental health, an increase in crying may be a sign that you need more support right now.

Check in with yourself to see how you feel if you experience one or more of the following conditions:

Do not hesitate to ask for help, especially if the problem is chronic or worsening.

The skin around your eyes is very thin and often prone to dark circles and unwanted puffiness. Many people worry that dark circles will make them look older or constantly tired.

Several home remedies and over-the-counter products can help control these types of inflammation. Here are several doctor-recommended tips and tricks for caring for your eyes and surrounding skin.

Check your refrigerator

Seelal says very simple and inexpensive ways to treat the skin around the eyes can be found in your fridge.

“A slice of potato and a cucumber can help relieve swelling and reduce dark circles under the eyes,” she says.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Start by applying cucumber slices to the eye area for 5 minutes.
  2. Then replace them with potato slices for 5 minutes.
  3. Repeat two or three times.

Cucumbers contain powerful antioxidants which reduce irritation and potatoes contain an enzyme called catecholase which helps lighten the skin.

Focus on blotting

Another tip, Seelal adds, is to focus on blotting under the eyes rather than rubbing. Blotting involves gently and repeatedly dabbing your skin with a product or wipe.

“It reduces friction and inflammation in the area,” she says.

Seelal also recommends storing face creams at a cooler temperature or even in the refrigerator, which can also help reduce puffiness and inflammation.

sleep and stress

Getting enough sleep and managing stress are essential when it comes to caring for the skin under the eyes.

“Lack of rest or stressful life events can lead to physical changes around the eyes, which makes us look more tired,” says Palm.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)adults generally need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

Use a quality eye cream

“A good eye cream used twice a day can help improve the texture and texture of the skin as well as [reduce] pockets,” says Palm.

There are many eye creams on the market, so the best way to find the right one for you is to speak with your dermatologist or a skin care expert.

Food and alcohol matter

Palm recommends avoiding excessive alcohol or salt consumption, as it can make dark circles or puffiness worse.

Eye care with allergies

If you want to reduce pigmentation under your eyes, Zhu advises avoiding rubbing your eyes.

“Allergies may cause you to rub your eyes to relieve itching, but the rubbing causes the delicate skin around the eyes to sag, leading to broken capillaries and darkening of the skin around the eyes,” she says.

To help with eye allergies, she recommends using over-the-counter antihistamine drops and artificial eye drops to reduce itching.

Alternatively, she says you can try eye creams that contain caffeine, which tightens capillaries.

Crying is part of life. For some people this happens regularly, while others only cry once in a while.

No matter how often you let the tears flow, caring for the skin under and around your eyes during (and after) crying can make a difference in how your skin responds.

If possible, avoid rubbing your eyes. This can increase puffiness and discoloration, and worsen any acne you may have. You also risk getting dirt and bacteria in your eyes, which can lead to irritation or infection.

Instead, apply a cold compress or gently wash your face with cold water after the tears subside. Follow this with moisturizer and hydration to replenish electrolytes.


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