Stress: How It Impacts Your Skin


Work, family and finances can often be the root cause of all our stresses in life. 

Stress not only causes us anxiety, but it also can affect us physically. Skin complaints we never knew we had are suddenly triggered or made worse. Stress manifests itself in the form of acne, psoriasis, eczema and can even cause your hair to get thinner. 

Cortisol runs rife through our bodies when we are stressed. It wreaks havoc through our immune system and can have a lasting impact on your blood pressure. So, how does stress impact our skin? Here’s what we found out:

Chemical response

When you are facing a deadline, running for your life or facing family uncertainty, your immune system is on alert. Ready to spring into action, your immune system has a chemical response to help protect your health. Inflammation is a side effect.

Stress is a catalyst for your skin becoming inflamed. If you are already prone to acne, stress will flip the acne switch. Susceptible to dry, flaky skin, here’s the stress trigger! Flare-ups are caused when your skin reacts to your environment, mood, or simply because you inherited them. 

Stress has this horrible way of infecting your every day, where body and mind connect, making skin conditions harder to manage. 

Stress response

Ultimately, stress is unavoidable. It’s how we respond to stress that’s crucial.

Broken sleep, insomnia and itchy eczema are enough to push anyone over the edge. Without a good nights sleep, our stress levels can peak. Not getting enough restorative sleep can make skin complaints worse, cause bags under our eyes and leave skin blotchy and red. 

Reaching for a glass of wine, cigarettes, coffee and comfort food all seem like a good idea at the time until you notice the effect on your skin. Eczema symptoms increase and become unmanageable with the addition of alcohol and caffeine. Psoriasis, on the other hand, is made worse by smoking and drinking. 

Short term stress relief causes a dependency on the feel-good dopamine factor that our body releases in response to our bingeing. Long term damage to our physical and mental health is a lasting consequence. 

Clogged pores

Excessive oil production is a sure-fire way for your pores becoming clogged and leaving your skin acne-prone. 

Cortisol wreaks havoc throughout your body and causes your brain to release an oil stimulating hormone that leaves your hair follicles with little room to breathe. Enter your acne flair up. 

Menstruation, lack of sleep, alcohol and stress are all key factors for making acne worse. With this in mind, finding a way to reduce acne’s effects on your skin may be a bit simpler than you think. 

Dry skin

Keeping your skin hydrated when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed can be hard to manage. When your stratum corneum – the outer layer of skin that keeps your skin cells hydrated – stops working the way it should, your skin becomes dry and itchy.

Your skin cells struggle to heal when you are stressed, and your skin’s ability to retain water becomes impaired. Including a daily skin routine in the morning and before bed will help your skin to repair itself and lock in much-needed moisture.


Collagen and elastin both work to keep your skin looking young and fresh. When we are stressed, cortisol is formed, which breaks down the collagen and elastin that keeps our skin healthy and smooth. Wrinkles and fine lines appear as a result and can leave you feeling more stressed than ever. 

Chronic stress is believed to increase inflammation and speed up the natural ageing process of our skin. 

Making time for you

Giving yourself the time to relax may be easier said than done. However, one of the best-known secrets to relieving stress is to switch off, read a book, have a massage or do some exercise. Whatever takes you away from the stress is a good thing to set your mind to.

Essential oils can create a calm atmosphere and release tension, all while helping your skin condition improve. If your stress is causing you aches and pains or interrupting your sleep, using essential oils in the bath can work wonders. Using essential oils as part of a massage or gently burning in an oil burner can help to soothe and relieve your body’s stresses too. 

Whatever stress is causing your skin to flare-up, make sure you take time out for you and discover what your stress triggers are. Avoiding stress isn’t easy, but it is possible. 

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