More than ever, everyone in the world is stressed. From work obligations to macro-environmental factors, there’s always a reason for us to feel stressed. Yet, the relationship between stress and skin only gets worse: the effects of stress on skin can range from acne breakouts to premature aging. And no one wants either or all the effects of stressed skin. While anxiety can take a toll on our skin, there are ways to prevent – or at least manage – stress so it doesn’t take a detrimental effect on your skin.
How stress affects your skin
Stress manifests through the body in different ways. Some of us experience headaches while others may experience stomach issues. For the skin, stress can manifest via:
- Impairing your skin barrier
The skin barrier keeps your skin balanced and hydrated, but external aggressors – like stress – can sabotage your skin’s moisture. Stress can weaken your skin’s ability to retain water, causing the skin to become dry and itchy.
- Inflamed skin
Stress elevates cortisol levels, which have an effect on the immune system and cause inflammation. Many inflammatory skin conditions include acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema and hives.
- Clogged pores
Breakouts can also be a result from stress. When the body releases cortisol – the stress hormone – it can lead to an overproduction of oily sebum by the skin glands, which clogs pores and can cause breakouts.
- Growing signs of aging
Heightened inflammation increase the level of enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, leading to greater signs of aging like wrinkles and loss of skin laxity.
How to fix stressed skin
First, start with your skincare routine. Chronic stress can create a feedback look in which you may neglect self-care and forego skincare routines. Don’t do this! Skin to your skincare routine. Then treat various stress effects on skin with what you know works for you. For example, if breakouts are abnormal and it’s clear that they are truly stress-induced, treat it with a reactive spot treatment instead of a proactive, ongoing treatment approach which would be better suited for someone with chronic acne.
How to prevent stress aging
It’s near impossible to entirely eliminate stress from our lives, but the havoc it can take on skin can be prevented. Drink lots of water, maintain your skincare routine, and avoid unhealthy habits like touching or tugging your face.
Find something to improve both your stress and skin, such as exercise, which generates “good feeling” hormones. Consider identifying the sources of stress and making changes to reduce or eliminate that stress. For more recommendations on how to ensure your skin looks its best, schedule a consultation with our licensed esthetician, Heather Davis.