The Connection Between Skin and Stress

May 24, 2024

From weeks of chronic low-level tension to days in fight or flight mode, the impact of stress on our skin can be more harmful than we realise.

Whether it’s a busy work schedule, a non-stop family life, jam-packed social calendar, or the pressures of keeping up with a never-ending to-do list – it can be near impossible to stay cool, calm, and collected all the time. As our stress levels rise and that all too familiar sense of overwhelm creeps in, our emotional and physical well-being can be left hanging by a thread. More often than not, changes to our skin can be the first sign that our bodies are in a state of stress and need a little extra TLC. To help you manage the challenges of stress-induced skin changes and better understand why these happen, here’s a breakdown of what’s going on below the surface, and what you can do to help reverse the impact.



Our faces reveal so much about our lives. Each line, crease, or spot becomes part of our journey and helps to tell our story. When your skin starts to wear the impact of a busy and stressful lifestyle, however, it might be time to stop and listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Excessive worrying, anxiety, and stress can cause inflammation, which can lead to your skin’s natural barriers breaking down. Why does this happen? Not only is your skin the largest organ in the body and provides important barrier and immune functions, but it’s formed by the very same layer of cells as your brain. That’s right – your skin is at the whim and mercy of your emotional state. When in a state of stress – your nervous system releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to help you face whatever challenge lies ahead (think of cortisol as your body’s built-in alarm system). What this means for your skin can be dehydration, redness, inflammation, irritation, dermatitis, eczema flare-ups, and sometimes acne breakouts.

When this happens, we can feel even more stressed, which starts a vicious cycle that can impact both your mental and physical wellbeing. Frustratingly, these shared emotional responses make it even harder to separate periods of stress from poor skin outcomes.



Behind the science

While the connection between skin and stress has long been studied, research in recent times has confirmed that our skin is both an immediate stress perceiver as well as the target of stress responses. As the largest organ of the body, our skin is both the primary sensing organ for all those external stressors like temperature, pain, and tension – as well as the internal stressors such as anxiety, panic, and overwhelm. So what can we do about this and how can we keep our skin feeling nourished, hydrated, and clear?

How to combat stressed-out skin

Although your skin barrier is super resilient – it’s also delicate and needs time to heal and repair itself, particularly after periods of heavy stress. While you might not get back to perfect skin overnight, there are a number of things you can do to combat some of the immediate effects of stressed-out skin and ensure you’re not making things worse. First and foremost is prioritising self-care where possible. Take some time to really think about what in your life is stressing you out. Remember – sometimes it’s not always just the obvious culprits.

Once you’ve had time to consider what’s causing your stress – switch your attention to making small, daily changes or adding new rituals to your routine that can help your body get back to best. This might include prioritising sleep, limiting screen time, introducing skin-loving foods, reducing alcohol, or removing anything from your diet and routine that can dehydrate your skin even further. Even finding an opportunity to carve out 20 minutes each day for a walk during your lunch break or introducing moments of meditation each morning or evening can make a big difference when done consistently.



Revisit your beauty routine

If you’ve done the emotional work and put in the effort to reduce your stress, it’s now time to make some variations to your beauty and skincare routine as your body gets back to its best. Stress weakens the skin’s barrier so you may find that some of your current skincare is too active and now causing sensitivities. Even if those products haven’t irritated your skin in the past, this could change during periods of prolonged stress when your skin is already at a disadvantage.

It might be time to consider introducing a gentler cleanser or adding ingredients such as hyaluronic or niacinamide to your daily routine. These can help to regulate oil production without making your skin dehydrated. Most importantly – try to get back to basics where possible. Less is more.

Turn to your favourite mask

Once you’ve taken care of what’s on the inside, it’s time to focus on what’s on the outside. You might consider introducing LED light therapy to your routine. TRUDERMAL Glow is an easy-to-use, at-home led face mask that’s both FDA + TGA approved. Using the power of blue, red, and near-infrared led technology, this particular mask is excellent for skin rejuvenation. With high levels of stress, red LED will work best to boost blood circulation and the stimulation of collagen and elastin in your skin. This helps to promote healing throughout the skin and importantly – reduce the redness and inflammation caused by stress. Together with a more curated skincare routine and emphasis on emotional and physical well-being, your skin can make the transition back to looking happy, healthy, and nourished.



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