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How does stress affect my skin?

We all feel stressed sometimes, but when our skin starts showing it, our body’s telling us to stop and pay attention. Years ago, stress protected us from being eaten by pesky predators (#grateful), but today, even worrying about a deadline can be enough to trigger it. Along with making us feel on edge, the effects of stress can disrupt our skin barrier and start showing up as redness, dryness and breakouts. If you’re feeling stressed, take a deep breath and read on – it’s time to sooth and rebalance.


How does being stressed affect my skin?

When we start feeling stressed, our ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in, producing adrenaline and cortisol hormones. When our cortisol levels are high, they force our skin glands to go into overdrive and (unnecessarily) produce more oil. This overproduction of natural oil, AKA sebum, is the leading cause for skin issues like breakouts, severe acne and (occasionally) inflammation. Naturally, this can lead to even more stress – as you can see below, it’s a stressed skin cycle! 

Everybody’s skin reacts differently to stress and the effects can vary. Here are a few of the most common reactions:

  • Stress activates sweat glands, often causing dehydration, which can lead to dryness.
  • Excess oil can clog your pores, causing breakouts.
  • The stress hormone, cortisol, weakens the skin’s natural protective barrier, which can cause inflammation.
  • Existing conditions such as psoriasis and eczema can be aggravated and get worse. 

How can I support my skin when I’m stressed?  

Your skin cells are constantly renewing, which means it’s always the right time to make improvements. If your skin is reacting to stress, being selective about which products you choose to use can make a huge difference. All of ours are free from over 2000 chemicals, alcohol and artificial fragrance, meaning they're suitable for even the most sensitive skin.

Treat your stressed skin to a moment of zen with our soothing routine, which can be easily adapted depending on how your skin is behaving:

Begin by gently cleansing. Our Moisturising Facial Wash is 100% soap free and vegan. It respects your skin’s natural pH which helps to keep it balanced. We love using calming ingredients in our products, and you’ll find soothing hemp seed oil in our Ultra Calming Sheet Mask. In just 15 relaxing minutes, it calms your skin for up to 48 hours­­. Finally, instantly rebalance and revive stressed skin with our Calming Moisturiser.

It also contains hemp seed oil and is rich in omegas 3, 6, 9 and vitamin B3. Fast-absorbing and lightweight, it’s the ultimate, quick-fix moisturiser for stressed or sensitive skin. ‘Ahhh’ moments await.


Is there anything else I can do to break the stressed skin cycle?

It’s important to find the root cause of your stress – do you know why you are feeling this way? Is there anything about the situation that you can control or improve? If the answer is ‘yes’ then do what you can! If the answer is ‘no’, it’s all about acknowledging the feeling and learning to let it go.

Products can help, but they will only get you so far – there are lots of other things that can help to calm your skin when you’re stressed. Firstly, don’t forget the basics. Drinking lots of water, sleeping well and avoiding harsh chemicals will all help to support your skin every day. 


Remember: skincare is self-care, so when you’ve got a bit of time, why not treat yourself to a D.I.Y facial? This could be as simple as adding in a little facial massage with your morning moisturiser or diving in for a double cleanse in the evening. Your skin will love you for it, and your mind will thank you for these extra relaxing moments. Mindfulness and skincare? What’s not to love about that combo?

If you are looking for more skincare advice, follow our Sensitive Skin Talks series on Instagram and Twitter

Simple Skincare Talks Stress
Stress and Skin Cycle
How skin reacts to stress
Support for stressed skin