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What Does Stress do to Your Skin?

Updated: Feb 26

Do you often feel like your skin is a little off? Are you breaking out or beginning to show signs of premature ageing? Stress could be the culprit behind those changes.

We all know how it feels when we're stressed. We can feel tightness in our chest, our thoughts are racing, and we generally want to find the nearest safe place to hide out for a while. Not only can stress affect our mental health, but it can also affect our physical appearance. Stress can wreak havoc on our skin, causing everything from breakouts to premature ageing. But don't despair! We'll explore what happens to your skin when you're stressed and share some practical tips for reducing its impact to give you back that healthy glow.

How does stress affect your skin?

Stress can take a toll on more than just our mental health - it can directly affect our skin, too. Acne and ageing skin are just some of the potential problems that can arise when we don't manage stress in our lives.

Stress and hormones

Stress can have a marked physical impact on our skin and manifest in hormone imbalances. When we feel stressed, our sympathetic nervous system releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol causes increased oil production in our skin glands, leading to clogged pores and acne breakouts. Stress can also aggravate inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Stress and skin ageing

Research has found that chronic stress can increase inflammation and free radicals, accelerating the ageing process and the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. High amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone) can also break down the skin's collagen and elastin, weakening the skin’s structure and speeding up the skin’s ageing process.

Therefore, taking practical steps to help reduce stress is essential to support healthy skin, and the good news is there is so much we can do each day as part of our self-care routine.

4 Practical Tips for Managing Stress

1. Mindfulness and meditation - Taking proactive steps to manage stress levels is essential. Practising relaxation techniques such as meditation and mindfulness can hugely benefit mental well-being and skin health. Mindfulness and meditation actively lower cortisol levels in the blood and help manage the physical effects of prolonged stress.

2. Exercise daily - Taking time out for yourself can have significant stress-reducing benefits, as physical activity can help release feel-good endorphins. Spending time outdoors and walking in nature can do wonders for stress levels. Yoga, pilates, and Qi Gong can help restore balance and improve your self-care routine.