Yes, Stress Affects Your Skin



We frequently hear about the negative impact of stress on the heart, brain, stomach, and other organs. But what about the biggest organ – your skin?

Given the negative repercussions of stress throughout the rest of the body, it makes perfect sense that stress affects your skin too.

It’s all the result of the brain-skin axis.

What Is the Brain-Skin Axis?

When we’re in a stressed state, the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands produce pro-inflammatory hormones such as cortisol and catecholamines as a line of defense.

The brain-skin axis is the two-way freeway that translates psychological stress from the brain and connects it to the skin through pro-inflammatory skin cells called mast cells.

This response is helpful in fleeting fight or flight moments. But when you experience chronic stress, the steady influx of inflammatories can wreak havoc with your skin.

How Stress Affects Your Skin

Given its increased susceptibility to environmental stressors such as ultraviolet light and temperature, the skin is more frequently battered by stress hormones than other organs. And stress affects the skin in many ways.

In the bigger picture, stress impacts the immune system, causing it to be more reactive. This means an increase in rashes, hives, and redness. The resulting inflammation can also cause flare ups for those with skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.

Meanwhile, increased cortisol can lead to overproduction of oil in the glands and cause acne breakouts. Steady exposure to cortisol also puts the kibosh on the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen which keep the skin smooth and youthful.

Furthermore, the stress from having a skin condition can lead people to isolate, leaving them even more stressed. They may skimp on their daily skin care routine – further exacerbating the problem.

No matter how you cut it, chronic stress has a negative impact on the skin. So what’s a person to do?

Reducing Stress Is Your First Goal

There is no doubt these are stressful times. The issues surrounding the pandemic, as well as the fierce political polarity in this country, have left many of us with varying degrees of chronic stress.

At the end of the day though, 90% of our stress does not come from the stressor itself, but rather from how we deal with it.

One of the most effective ways to manage stress is with mindful practices like meditation, yoga, and breath work. Exercise is also beneficial in that it increases antioxidants and lowers cortisol levels.

Your diet is also key in managing stress. Stick with foods high in vitamins A and C, polyphenols, lycopene, and astaxanthin to aid in preventing free radicals and combatting inflammation.

And if life has gotten too overwhelming and you just feel like you need to cry, then do it! Like exercise, crying helps decrease cortisol levels. It’s also a major stress release.

Finally, you can soothe and help heal the skin by looking for skincare products that contain barrier-boosting ingredients like glycolipids, fatty acids, and ceramides.

Feed it what it needs.

Give Your Skin The TLC It Deserves

Now that you understand how stress affects your skin, you can take measures to lessen the stressors in your life.

In the meantime, if your skin could use a little extra care and attention or if you’re struggling with acne scars that won’t go away, contact us.

Our skincare specialists are happy to discuss the many options available to you!