Stress: How it Can Affect Your Skin Health

Stressed man at work
  • Stress can impact skin health through acne flare-ups, premature aging, exacerbating inflammatory skin issues, and skin sensitivity.
  • Cortisol released during stress can stimulate sebaceous glands and trigger inflammation.
  • Antioxidants can help combat the effects of stress on the skin and maintain hydration levels.
  • Relaxation techniques like meditation and exercise can help reduce cortisol production.
  • Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into a diet can further reduce inflammation in the body.

Stress can impact your well-being in many ways, and your skin is no exception. While everyone has experienced the occasional breakout when we’re feeling frazzled, chronic stress can lead to bigger problems in the long run. From premature aging to exacerbating inflammatory skin issues, stress can wreak havoc on your skin health. Here’s what you need to know about stress, how it can affect your skin, and how to alleviate it for better skin health.

The Science Behind Stress

Stress is a complex physiological and psychological response to various demands or challenges, known as stressors, that individuals encounter in their daily lives. The science behind stress involves multiple systems and processes in the body, including the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. Here’s what you need to know about its relationship to your skin.

Acne on woman

Acne Flare-Ups

One of the most common ways stress affects your skin is through acne flare-ups. When you’re under stress, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that can stimulate the sebaceous glands in your skin and lead to excess oil production. This excess oil can clog your pores, leading to breakouts. Stress can also trigger inflammation, which can exacerbate existing acne. Try incorporating relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga into your routine to combat this.

Premature Aging

Chronic stress can also accelerate the aging process. When stressed, your body produces free radicals that can damage your skin’s cellular structure. This can lead to fine lines, wrinkles, and dullness. Stress can also cause dehydration, which further contributes to premature aging. To combat this, try incorporating antioxidants (like vitamin C) into your skincare routine, and make sure you’re staying hydrated throughout the day.

Inflammatory Skin Issues

Stress can exacerbate your symptoms if you suffer from inflammatory skin issues like eczema or psoriasis. Stress can trigger an inflammatory response in your body, leading to irritation and redness. Try incorporating stress-reducing activities like exercise or journaling into your routine to manage this. You may also want to incorporate anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens, berries, and turmeric.

Skin Sensitivity

Stress can also exacerbate skin sensitivity. When you’re under stress, your skin’s natural barrier function can become compromised, leading to dryness, redness, and irritation. To manage this, use gentle skincare products free of harsh ingredients like sulfates and fragrances. You may also want to incorporate a daily moisturizer to help restore your skin’s natural barrier function.

Hair Loss

Finally, chronic stress can also lead to hair loss. When you’re under stress, your body redirects resources to focus on coping with the stressor rather than maintaining bodily functions like hair growth.

This can lead to increased hair shedding or even temporary hair loss. To combat this, try incorporating scalp massages into your routine – these can help increase blood flow and stimulate hair growth. You may also want to talk to your doctor about incorporating a hair growth supplement like biotin.

Alleviate Stress Through These Tips

Thankfully, you can alleviate stress in several ways to help keep your skin healthy. Here are some tips to get you started:


One of the best ways to alleviate stress is by getting massages. An experienced massage therapist can reduce your cortisol levels by up to 25%, which can help reduce inflammation and relax your muscles. Additionally, it can produce hormones like endorphins and serotonin that can help improve your mood.

Exercising woman


Regular exercise is another excellent way to manage stress. Not only does it release endorphins (our “happy hormones”), but it also helps reduce cortisol levels. Try incorporating activities like running, biking, or yoga for the best results.

Change Your Diet

What you eat can also have a significant impact on your stress levels. Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens and omega-3-rich foods into your diet to help reduce inflammation and increase endorphins.

Mental Health Breaks

Take regular mental health breaks throughout your day. Whether taking 10 minutes for yourself or scheduling an afternoon walk, taking time to relax and reset can make a world of difference in your stress levels.

Meditation & Deep Breathing

Finally, try incorporating meditation and deep breathing into your daily routine. Research shows this can help reduce cortisol levels and improve overall mental well-being. Consider joining an online mindfulness class or downloading a guided meditation app.

Stress can significantly impact your skin, but there are several ways to manage it. Incorporating relaxation techniques and meditating are all excellent ways to help reduce stress and improve your skin health. With these tips in mind, you can keep your stress levels under control for better skin health.

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