Stress is a part of daily life—there’s no getting around it. We can’t avoid our jobs, bills, challenging relationships, politics, or a long to-do list of daily chores. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2017 consumer survey on stress, more than half of Americans say they’re currently experiencing the highest levels of stress they can ever remember. Add to that the fact that 45% are also experiencing sleeplessness every month, and it would appear stress is a having a major impact on our day-to-day lives.

It’s no secret that stress can take a toll on our overall health and make pre-existing conditions worse. But one of the largest organs impacted by stress—and the area that shows the most obvious effects—is the skin. Here’s what stress can do to your skin and how to counteract each symptom.


(Courtesy Venus Legacy)

Expect Dullness and Dryness for Days In reaction to stress, the body releases cortisol to boost productivity in order to quickly and effectively address whatever is causing the stress and knock it out. Unfortunately, cortisol levels, unlike adrenaline, can take a while to die down. The risk here is that stress later in the day can have a hangover effect when it comes to getting some decent shut-eye at night.

The Solution: Start with respecting and protecting your time for beauty sleep—because skin can’t recover without stress-less rest. Work on setting and sticking to a bedtime and creating a cushion between work and sleep to decompress and de-stress.

Get Ready for Rosacea Flare-ups and Redness Rosacea is commonly misunderstood to be a result of stress. Rather, rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition that flares up as a result of a spike in cortisol that triggers a chain of reaction in the nervous system. As cortisol increases in response to stress, the nervous system reacts by releasing chemicals called neuropeptides and neurotransmitters. The Solution: Unfortunately, the clear solution to limit the effects of stress on rosacea is to cut out stress altogether—which can be a big undertaking. Making a list of common stress triggers and practicing avoidance may help, but in cases where stress can’t be avoided, consider treating rosacea symptoms with radio frequency skin resurfacing treatments to boost collagen production and trigger skin’s natural healing cycle.

Accept that Stress Causes Wrinkles This is because the effects of chronic stress build up over time. The longer stress continues, the more intense symptoms will appear, including the development of deep-set wrinkles that are much more difficult to erase with a cream or serum alone. In fact, the root of some stress-related wrinkles is thought to be located within our DNA. The Solution: Supporting skin’s moisture level is a start for preventing further damage, as well as ultimately getting our worries in check. To help minimize the appearance of damage already done, consider a series of radio frequency anti-aging treatments for wrinkle reduction, which can help trigger skin’s natural repair cycle for smoother, firmer-looking skin.

Acne Breakouts that Just Won’t End The effects of chronic stress and anxiety causing acne are two-fold: First, cortisol stimulates sebaceous glands in the skin, causing them to ramp up sebum production that can lead to oily skin and breakouts along the jawline and t-zone. Second, stress upsets your microbiome, a sensitive bacterial ecosystem in the gut, setting it off-balance and impacting your body’s ability to fend off acne-causing bacteria, leading to further breakouts. The Solution: To fend off breakouts, dermatologists may recommend topical spot treatments containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in combination with stress-reducing therapies to prevent further adult acne breakouts. However, these strategies don’t treat acne-related inflammation. For a one-two punch that fends off future breakouts and current symptoms, consider a custom intense pulsed light (IPL) acne treatment plan. These treatments utilize red and blue light to target acne-causing bacteria and reduce related inflammation for clearer, healthier-looking skin.