Skip to main content
Skin care

How Stress Affects Your Skin, And How to Combat It

How Stress Affects Your Skin, And How to Combat It
Team LF
Writer and expert3 years ago
View Team LF's profile

Problematic skin and stress have a cyclical relationship. When our skin is at its worst and seemingly nothing you do or use can improve it, it is easy to become stressed out. Stress, in turn, can cause our skin to go into overdrive and change dramatically - sometimes becoming dry and irritated and other times oily and acneic.

This vicious cycle is detrimental to both your complexion and your overall wellbeing. Working to improve both will encourage truly positive changes in your mood and the clarity and balance of your skin.

Can Stress Cause Skin Issues?

Most of the changes your skin experiences as a result of stress are related to the hormone Cortisol. When stressed, the adrenal glands produce Cortisol which can disrupt the delicate balance of your skin.

As you become stressed, Cortisol is released and encourages glycation underneath the skin's surface. The process of glycation damages and hardens the natural collagen in your complexion, increasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

In particularly damaging cases, stress can even reduce the ability of cells to repair themselves, leading to accelerated signs of aging.

Cortisol also affects the skin's production of Hyaluronic Acid, a natural moisturizer that is essential to the hydrated, plump appearance of your complexion. Stressed skin is therefore often dull, dry and sensitive.

Stress can also lead to an oilier, imbalanced complexion. An increase in Cortisol can lead to breakouts as oil glands in the skin can go into overdrive. As an immunosuppressive hormone, Cortisol allows bacteria, which would normally be fought off, to attack and grow on the skin which can lead to acne.

As a result, stress is one of the key causes of acne on mature skin as the skin's natural balance is disrupted which leads to uneven texture and breakouts.

How to Stress Less to Help Your Skin Recover

As much as treating your stressed skin is vital to renewing your complexion, working on your overall wellbeing and reducing stress is so important and will do so much to improve the appearance of your skin.

Get Enough Sleep

Easier said than done but getting your recommended eight hours of sleep each night will help to reduce stress and anxiety levels.

When you are well-rested, you have more energy and are able to concentrate on tasks more easily.

This can give you a fresh, clear perspective on issues that may be causing you to feel stressed.


Taking a little time out of your day to relax will dramatically improve your mood. Look into meditation and yoga and see what works for you. Spending some time free of work and daily tasks can vastly improve your overall mood and perspective. Calming essential oils, such as Lavender and Eucalyptus, can help to calm a busy mind.

Exercise Often

As exercise releases endorphins, it is the perfect antidote for stress and anxiety. Going on a light run or taking part in an exercise class can leave you feeling revived and positive for the rest of the day.

How to De-Stress Skin

Stressed-out skin calls for nourishing, calming products. Taking care of your skin and upkeeping a calming skincare regime can make a huge difference to the overall appearance of your complexion. Skin will be left soothed and more even in tone.

The Dermalogica UltraCalming Cleanser is the perfect cleanser for stressed, irritated skin. The unique formula has a pH balance that is gentle to sensitive skin, helping to soothe and reduce redness and irritation. The cream can be easily applied to the face and eyes, providing a cleansing solution that won’t strip away the protective upper layer of the skin.

Developed especially for stressed, tired eyes, the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Eye rejuvenates eyes after life's stresses (from long days to lack of sleep, even pollution) and instantly reveals a fresh, more rested, luminously youthful look.

When your skin is severely stressed and irritated, calming masks can help to make a visible difference to your complexion with just one use. The Eve Lom Rescue Mask does exactly what it suggests and rescues stressed skin. Infused with a nourishing blend of Camphor and Ground Almonds, the Rescue Mask calms blotchy, stressed skin revealing a radiant, refined complexion.

Team LF
Writer and expert
View Team LF's profile