Stress & your skin health: 8 facts & how to calm it

Written by Angela, 28th March 2020

A small amount of stress is good for us. It motivates us to do things – like to meet deadlines and achieve new goals. However, too much stress is harmful and impacts our health. And recently with the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) many of us have been feeling more stressed and anxious than usual. Unfortunately, this emotional and mental turmoil manifests in physical problems too – and commonly affects our skin health.. As the largest organ in our body, our skin reacts and ironically can make us feel more stressed through its soreness, sensitivity and appearance.

Understanding why stress causes skin problems can help you understand how to soothe, ease and solve your stress-related skincare concerns. In this blog, we’ll explain by delving into the facts around stress and your skin – and give you stress-solving advice. At Sensoria, we believe understanding the root cause of any skin concerns is key to solving it – for healthier happier skin and improved overall health and wellbeing.

Fact 1: Stress causes a chemical response

When you’re stressed, your brain releases cortisol. High levels of cortisol confuse messages to your skin – meaning that it can result in anything from an outbreak of hives to acne.

Fact 2: Stress worsens skin conditions & causes inflammation

For the above reason, stress makes any existing skin concerns worse. For example, if you suffer from anything like eczema, rosacea or psoriasis stress can exacerbate these conditions.

The reason why? Inflammation – which is your body’s immune system responding to a trigger. Sometimes good and very important, inflammation is vital to our immune system at fighting off viruses like the flu. However, at times it can go into overdrive – especially when we are stressed. Manifesting in heat, swelling and redness, inflammation leaves your skin feeling uncomfortable – to an extreme degree at times. Unfortunately, the irony is that you can feel more stressed by your skin’s appearance – resulting in a vicious cycle.

Fact 3: Stress leads to adult acne

Suffering multiple breakouts during a stressful period of life is normal – many of us have experienced this. However, do you understand why this happens?

Again, your answer lies in cortisol – the stress hormone. This hormone tells our skin to produce more oil. The result of overactive sebaceous glands means that sebum combines with dead skin and dirt, clogging your pores – and resulting in acne.

Fact 4: Stress can also make your skin dry

Despite oiliness being the usual suspect of stress, it can have an adverse effect.

This is because when you’re stressed you tend to neglect the basics more. That’s hydration, sleep and nutrition. The reality is that something as simple as drinking lots of water can have a huge effect on your glow.

Top tip: Make small lifestyle changes to manage stress levels and improve skin health

The good news is that even in very stressful times, it is possible to make some small changes to improve your overall wellbeing – which will help hydrate your skin and improve its health.

Even when extremely stressed and anxious, try to be conscious of the small things you can do to make an overall physiological difference – that will work to decrease stress levels, if only to a small degree. Activities such as pausing for 5 minutes to drink a cup of herbal tea or consciously refilling your water bottle can make a huge difference – one that you will see in a hydrated complexion too.

Fact 5: Stress can cause premature wrinkles

Psychological stress can have a physical impact on our skin. From furrowing your brow to squinting at a screen, expressions wear on your face over the years.

Of course, we are not saying limit your expressions! They are natural – and happen for both positive emotions like laughing and smiling, as well as negative emotions. However, be mindful of actions you can take to minimise the impacts of facial expressions.

Top tip: Invest in an eye product containing Vitamin C

Our eyes move a lot – causing a lot of physiological stress. Vitamin C is somewhat of a ‘superhero’ ingredient in the skincare world as it dramatically brightens and physically firms while protecting against free radicals.

At Sensoria, we recommend Dermalogica’s Biolumin-C for all these factors. The product was developed acknowledging the high number of times our eyes move a day – with an aim to counteract this.

Although our salon treatments are temporarily suspended during the coronavirus outbreak, we are still helping our clients select skincare products for their needs.

To find out more or order this product, just get in touch – we’ll arrange delivery for you too.

Fact 6: Stress can cause your skin to lose its firmness

Furthermore, when you become stressed the release of cortisol damages and breakdowns collagen and elastin – responsible for our skin’s firmness. As more collagen and elastin is compromised, you lose your firmness.

Additionally, if you’re someone who is often stressed and could even be said to suffer from chronic stress, you risk shortening your telomeres. These are the compound structure at the end of a chromosome and when they become damaged, cells age faster – resulting in premature ageing.

Top tip: take a holistic approach to stress reduction

Solving skincare concerns isn’t just about selecting the right treatments and products for you. Although important, it’s also about taking a look at your lifestyle as a whole.

Part of this is building self-care into your daily life – as part of stress management. On a daily basis, this can be as simple as a relaxing evening time routine. You can even incorporate a relaxing approach to your skincare routine for a dual benefit.

We recommend unwinding with a face mask at least once a week. Also,, Dermalogica’s Sound Sleep Cocoon is really popular with clients who want to improve their sleep quality – and their skin quality.

Also, consider adding in regular monthly or bi-monthly self-care treatments that are wholly focused on you.

At Sensoria, we offer a range of relaxation and wellness treatments designed to help you unwind, practice self-care and appreciate your mind and body.

From therapeutic ‘Head in the Clouds’ massage to simply taking some time out to have a manicure, our tranquil salon helps you de-stress away from the pressures of modern-day life.

Although we have temporarily suspended our in-salon treatment during the coronavirus outbreak, you can still book online or buy a gift voucher to use when things return to normal.

Fact 7: Stress can make your skin sensitive or sensitised

In extreme cases of stress, your skin can become thinner as cortisol breaks down dermal proteins. As well as the already internal factors causing inflammation, thinner skin means you are more prone to external irritants.

In cases such as this, it’s really important to be mindful of the skincare products you use.

Top tip: read our in-depth blog on sensitive skin to learn what products & treatments can help you

Fact 8: Physical stress also damages your skin

When we speak of ‘stress’, we often think of it in a mostly psychological form. However, stress can also be a physical form – in terms of your environment.

Mostly consisting of pollution, UV rays and blue light (from your screens), physical stresses can impact your skin’s health in many ways. Exposure causes free radical damage – resulting in an array of skin concerns from dark spots to sunburn.

Top tip: Wear broad-spectrum UV protection

Chalky, white and heavy sunscreen is something of the past. Thankfully, over the years dermatologists have invented sunscreen which is a light, invisible and weightless defence. In particular, Dermalogica has recently launched its new sunscreen – Invisible Physical Defense SPF30. With added blue light protection, this bio-active mushroom complex soothes your skin, reduces redness and dryness caused by environmental aggressors and includes Antioxidant Green tea to defend skin against free radical damage.

When you order this revolutionary sunscreen with us you’ll also earn Sensoria TreatCard points to spend on future health, beauty & skincare treatments.

Support during stressful times

During these anxious times, we are here for you – even if not in physical presence during periods of closure, social distancing and self-isolation.

We recognise that popping in to see our therapists is often a vital part of your health and wellbeing. And at Sensoria, many of our clients have become firm friends over the years. The social aspect of our service has always been core to our business – and it will remain, even if virtual.

Therefore, during these anxious times, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need a friend. We are here for a chat, to offer support – and we hope you can support us too. Coming together as a community has never been so important.

Take care, everyone.

Originally published March 28, 2020 14:53pm, updated January 15, 2024

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