It cannot be denied that most of us experience some degree of stress as part of our daily lives. However, this stress can slowly begin to manifest itself onto our skin – turning our feelings of internal anxiety into physical, external symptoms. Knowing how stress can affect your skin is the first step into treating and preventing the problem, so keep reading to find out precisely how stress impacts us.

How stress can affect your skin: All you need to know

Stress refers to the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure, so it is safe to say we have all felt stressed at one point in our lives. Common triggers of stress include work, relationships and money problems, but stress is very subjective and can be caused for a variety of other reasons too. Stress can be a powerful emotion which affects how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. Aside from impacting your skin, other signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.

Ironically, the physical symptoms of stress can make us feel even more stressed, so it is important to know how to deal with these symptoms effectively and give yourself the TLC you deserve.

Dry, flaky skin

Dry, flaky skin is a symptom of stress that can be extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant to look at. If your stress levels are quite high, it is likely that you are not drinking enough water, and potentially replacing it with coffee or fizzy drinks. If you continue to remain dehydrated, your skins natural moisture will slowly dry up and result in your skin looking flaky and lacklustre. Dermatologists recommend the following to treat your dry skin:

  • Be conscious of how you bath/shower – When your skin is dry, you should limit your time in the shower or bath to 5-10 minutes. You should also us with warm water as opposed to hot water and wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser.
  • Apply moisturiser immediately after washing – You should aim to moisturise your skin within a few minutes of drying off after a shower or bath and washing your face/hands.
  • Use an ointment or cream rather than a lotion – Ointments tend to be more effective and less irritating than standard lotions. When looking for an ointment, try to find a product with ingredients such as jojoba oil, lactic acid, urea, glycerin, lanolin and mineral oil.
  • Only use gentle, unscented skin care products – If your skin is dry, you should avoid using deodorant soaps and skin care products that contain alcohol, fragrance, retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) as they prevent your skin from retaining its natural oils.
  • Add moisture to the air – This is easily done by utilising a humidifier.

girl treating acne


A Stanford University study published in the Archives of Dermatology discovered that college students suffered from acne flare-ups during exam periods, where stress levels were higher than usual. As a result, they concluded that acne severity correlated highly with increasing stress.

Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes spots to appear, especially on the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest and upper arms. Whiteheads, blackheads and cysts are all types of acne but can be easily treated with early intervention. Treatment depends on the severity and persistence of the acne itself, but there are many home remedies you can try to reduce its appearance.

A healthy, well-balanced diet isn’t just excellent for your overall health and wellbeing, but it is argued that people who consume a diet which offers a significant amount of vitamin A and E benefit from a lower risk of severe acne.

Tea tree oil, a natural antiseptic extracted from the leaves of an indigenous Australian tree, is renowned for its ability to counteract the growth of Propionibacterium acnes. Tea tree oil also works as a moisturising solvent and can be used as a refreshing cleanser.

If these home remedies do not effectively reduce the appearance of your acne, you should consider professional acne and acne scarring treatments. Treatments include LED light therapy, microdermabrasion and hydrafacials, which are all safe and carried out by trained professionals so you can feel confident you are in safe hands.

Rashes and hives

Both rashes and hives are caused by dysbiosis and result in an unpleasant looking, sometimes itchy, red mark on your skin. When touched, a tingling or burning sensation can occur, making it a very uncomfortable stress symptom to deal with. Stress has also been known to worsen existing skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, so it is crucial you know the best products to use to soothe your skin and minimise the appearance of any rashes.

Treatment for hives normally consists of prescribed medication or antihistamine tablets you can purchase from your local pharmacy. Alternatively, you could use antiseptic healing creams such as Sudocream which will help soothe any dry skin and calm redness.


As much as we hate to be the bearer of bad news, we cannot hide from the fact that chronic stress and exhaustion causes premature crow’s feet, frown lines and under eye wrinkles. Wrinkles are generally a physical attribute of ageing and appear on our skin as creases, folds or ridges. Of course, none of us wants to look any older than what we are, so there is a vast selection of anti-ageing products available on the market to help us keep our youthful glow.

The Kate Somerville Super Charged Anti-Aging Moisturizing Cream is highly praised for its ability to visibly improve texture, tone and the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Formulated with some of the best anti-ageing ingredients, such as retinol and Vitamin C, this 3-1 cream is guaranteed to brighten and nourish your skin while neutralizing free radicals that can cause premature ageing.

applying skincare

A more budget-friendly, anti-ageing product comes in the form of the Olay Total Effects 7in1 Anti-Ageing Moisturiser. Having been reformulated with 40% more vitamins, this moisturiser defies the following 7 signs of ageing for younger, healthier looking skin:

  • Visibly smooths fine lines and wrinkles
  • Helps skin to maintain its moisture
  • Evens skin tone appearance
  • Minimizes the look of pores
  • Smoothes and evens out skin texture
  • Enhances brightness
  • Hydrates to restore firmer skin appearance

If neither of these products takes your fancy, read this useful article about The Best Anti-Aging Creams of 2019 and find the best cream for you and your skin.

Effective skincare routines

If stress begins to impact your skin in any way, it’s crucial to have a skincare routine that works for you. Our skin is so important and constantly needs attention, which is why many people have 2 skincare routines: one for the day and one for the night. A daytime regimen could include any of the following: a cleanser, toner, antioxidant serum, eye cream, spot treatment, moisturiser and sun cream. Obviously, you do not have to use all of these products, but as a rough guide, you should consider using some of them before you fully start your day. In terms of a nighttime routine, you should use the same products, but you can also add in a hydrating face mask or night cream.

If you don’t currently have a skincare routine and want inspiration, watch this video posted by Kylie Jenner, where she tells you her routine step by step and what products she uses.

Ways to deal with stress

The best way to prevent stress from damaging your skin is to target the stress itself. Many people believe activities such as meditation and yoga are extremely helpful at combating your stress levels. The calming nature of both activities gives you the chance to reflect, relax and most importantly give yourself some ‘me time.’ Facials Milton Keynes is also a great way to pamper yourself and take you away from the everyday stress of work and family life.

Another brilliant stress reliever is exercise. We all know the physical benefits of exercise, but it also has an extremely positive impact on your health and wellbeing. Exercise increases the production of endorphins, these are essentially your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, which trigger a positive feeling in your body. By lifting your mood, exercise can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety while also improving your sleeping pattern, which is often disrupted by stress.

There is also a wide variety of apps you can download onto your smartphone that aim to reduce stress levels. Some of the most popular are: Happify, Personal Zen and Headspace.

woman meditating

Combating stress one moisturiser at a time

Stress is, unfortunately, an inevitable and unavoidable part of life. However, this doesn’t mean we let it get the best of us or our skin. With the right products, stress relief methods and a positive attitude, you can easily overcome whatever stress you have in your life and still look flawless.

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