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These are our top skin care tips for stressful times (and breakouts)

Stress not only impacts your mental and physical well-being, but it also wreaks havoc on the skin. Given the anxiety-inducing past year, it’s no wonder people are looking for ways to up their skin care game to help alleviate breakouts and acne that’s resulted. While stress alone won’t cause pimples to form, there is evidence that stress can trigger breakouts and make existing acne worse.

Everyone gets stressed from time to time. Learning how to manage stress when it does occur and finding products that can help reduce the severity of a breakout or prevent one from happening in the first place go a long way in making you feel confident and not add to the stress you are already experiencing.

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Why does stress ruin our skin?

“We know there are several things going on here,” Dr. Adam Friedman, an associate professor of dermatology at George Washington University, told Time Magazine, pointing to a stress-related hormone called CRH, or corticotrophin-releasing hormone, as a factor in stress-induced breakouts. This increases the skin’s oil production, which can cause pimples. “These sebaceous glands are also immune organs, and they can create inflammation, so turning on that immune response can exacerbate swelling or redness.”

This hormone can trigger breakouts, dryness, and inflammation of the skin. This can cause even more stress, compounding the problem at hand. What’s more, when you’re stressed, people tend to sleep poorly, consume less-healthy foods and more alcohol, and pause their usual skin care routines — all of which impact our skin.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Simple skin care that can help

Finding a skin care routine that works is critical to help get rid of pesky pimples and acne brought on by stress. To start, you’ll want to find a face wash that is gentle but made to help treat and prevent breakouts from occurring.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Wash


CeraVe’s Acne Foaming Cleanser

are both good choices and are relatively inexpensive.

After washing your face, apply a serum or sheet mask that contains hyaluronic acid. The ingredient attracts moisture to the skin, leaving your face feeling less oily. A good one to try is

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Acid Serum

, which “scientifically combines low-molecular and high-molecular weight for multi-depth hydration.”

In order for any skin care regime to work, you need to do it consistently. Make a habit of washing and caring for your skin twice a day — morning and night — and slowly but surely, you’ll see the difference.

Other factors to consider

There are other activities you can partake in to prevent stress-related acne breakouts. Mindfulness meditation and exercises like yoga and tai chi can help you manage stress levels. If a challenging workout leaves you feeling calmer, go for a run or join a kickboxing class. Keeping your home and workspace organized and clean can also help alleviate the everyday stress you experience.

Find time in your day to unwind, breathe deep, get outside air, listen to a calming podcast, and relax. It will go a long way in preventing stress from taking over your life, which will positively affect your skin and help prevent future breakouts. This also means eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and investing in stress skin care regimens that will leave you feeling at peace and glowing.

If you’re already prone to breakouts or experience itchiness and redness of your skin, stress just makes things worse. It’s important to be consistent, take time to destress, and engage in a skin care routine that will not only help your skin improve but will bring you joy in the process. If you like to multitask, run yourself a bubble bath, put on your favorite album, and slap a face mask on while you do. There’s nothing wrong with killing two (or three) birds at once, as the saying goes.

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Julie Scagell
I am a freelance writer based in Minneapolis, MN. My passions include my dogs, talking about my dogs, and taking pictures of…
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