Why Stress Is Bad for Your Skin

Have you ever noticed that your skin seems to break out every time you have an important event? This is because the stress that you typically feel before a job interview, important meeting or other special occasion causes an imbalance of hormones in your body. That imbalance can lead to poor skin conditions and a variety of other negative effects on your general health. While small periods of acute stress are normal parts of life, chronic stress or anxiety can wreak havoc on your body and skin, and here’s why.

The Effects of Stress on Skin

Stress and anxiety raise the level of cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” in your body. Among the many side effects of increased cortisol is an increase in blood sugar. Raised blood sugar can lead to many health concerns, including increased insulin, increased fat storage and negative effects on the immune system.

For the skin, increased blood sugar means glycation, the process in which sugar binds to and damages lipid and protein molecules, such as collagen. This collagen damage leads to thin, wrinkled skin. Increased blood sugar can also cause acne breakouts. Stress and anxiety also affect the proopiomelanocortin gene. This gene makes cortisol but also makes a melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which triggers pigment production. This can lead to uneven skin tone and dark patches on the face.

Research shows that because anxiety affects the immune system in many ways, it is often linked with outbreaks of skin diseases such as eczema, dermatitis and herpes (Oral Surgery and Endodontics, University of Basel).

Tips for Reducing Stress

The importance of managing and reducing stress cannot be underestimated. Taking steps to help reduce chronic stress can have profoundly positive effects on your overall health and wellness and your skin’s condition. There is plenty of evidence to support the positive role of exercise in stress reduction, even if this means incorporating a walk into your lunch break each day. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which elevate your mood and can even act as the body’s natural painkillers (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). Exercise can also help to regulate sleep patterns, which, in turn, help to manage stress and anxiety.

Listening to soothing music, spending time in nature and performing breathing exercises and/or meditation have also been shown to help reduce high stress levels.

How to Revive Stressed-Out Skin

Reducing stress can help clear and brighten your skin, but there are a few skincare tips that can also help to bring stressed-out skin back to life. First, if you don’t already, you should be wearing a daily sunscreen to protect your skin from oxidative stress caused by the sun’s UV rays. This is the leading cause of premature skin aging.

You can also add a vitamin C serum like SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic or Jan Marini C-Esta Serum to brighten your complexion while also providing your skin with a boost of antioxidants to protect against free radical damage.

It’s also important to be sure that you’re using the right skincare products for your skin type so that you’re not mistakenly causing added irritation or breakouts. If you’re not sure which type of skin you have, visit to find a physician who can accurately diagnose your Baumann Skin Type and create a customized skincare routine. The combination of proper skincare and healthy, stress-minimizing habits are the recipe for beautiful, glowing skin no matter the occasion!


Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through

February 20, 2017 Acne, Skin Aging