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Break the Breakout Cycle! How Managing Stress Can Help Keep Your Skin Clear 

You are not alone if your skin is subject to bouts of blemishes whenever you feel a bit anxious. Stress can cause multiple symptoms, making your skin look less than its best. In recognition of Stress Awareness Month, we’d like to open your awareness to the link between stress and acne. 

Is April an inherently stressful month? Let’s look at what happens in April: 

  • Easter and Passover holidays 
  • Beginning of the wedding season 
  • Tax Day 

So, if the idea of big family gatherings, wedding planning, and paying taxes fills you with stress, you can consider yourself perfectly normal. If you’ve noticed a breakout or two (or more) this month, it’s probably stress-related, right? 

Well… Maybe. 

Does stress cause acne? 

Stress can affect pretty much every facet of our physical and psychological well-being. Stress is linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, type II diabetes, mood disorders, accelerated aging, addiction disorders, arthritis, and even cancer. 

However, stress doesn’t technically cause acne in people who aren’t predisposed to acne breakouts. Stress increases the hormone cortisol, which can affect sebum production and significantly worsen existing acne. It has also been theorized that stress disrupts the skin’s natural antimicrobial defenses, possibly causing Cutibacterium acnes – bacteria that play a major role in the development of acne – to flourish. 

Additionally, stress can cause sleep disruptions that can trigger inflammation and excess oil production, which can cause acne. 

If you’re feeling highly stressed and if you noticed an unusual number of pimples, we’re certainly not going to insist that stress wasn’t a cause. 

But the question remains – what can be done about it? 

Self-Care for Clear Skin 

Coping with stress can be challenging. We can’t simply walk away from the jobs, families, friends, and problems causing our stress, can we? 

Not physically, but most of us can take a few moments out of the day to mindfully manage our anxieties. Here are a few tips that can help you emotionally self-regulate: 

  • Get some exercise. Physical exercise is one of nature’s most effective antistress tools. Going for a walk, taking a yoga class, hiking, or dancing can bring significant relief for several reasons. First, exercise releases mood-elevating endorphins, which make us feel great. Secondly, low-intensity exercise causes cortisol (stress hormone) levels to decrease. Thirdly, exercise makes us feel better about ourselves, particularly when we notice increased endurance and tighter muscles! 
  • Eat right. Certain foods have stress-lowering properties. Evidence suggests that a diet rich in lean proteins, colorful vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, and whole-grain fiber but low in dairy and sugar can minimize the production of the insulin-like growth factor hormone 1. This chemical is thought to increase oil production in the skin and exacerbate acne. 
  • Improve your sleep hygiene. If your sleep routine is erratic and disrupted, you probably feel anxious, jittery, moody, frustrated, and fatigued. Lack of proper sleep has a significant effect on physical and emotional health. Try to keep a consistent sleep routine and not overstimulate your brain before bed by staring at a digital screen. 
  • Schedule a facial. Pamper yourself by having a professional facial performed by a qualified skin expert. It is inherently relaxing, and the procedure rejuvenates and detoxifies your skin, improving acne and delivering a boost of hydration. 

You can also pamper yourself by pampering your skin at home! SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense offers a powerful boost of plant-based exfoliants, pore-decongesting lipo-hydroxy acids, and skin-smoothing glycolic acid. 

If you want to tackle breakouts from head to toe, one of our favorite products is WestDerm Body Acne Clearing Spray, a gentle, full-body exfoliating spray that targets body acne in difficult-to-reach areas. 

For skin that’s red and reactive, SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque calms inflamed breakouts, accelerating healing and minimizing redness. 

If you have concerns about sudden, stress-related acne flare-ups, please don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with a qualified dermatologist for a comprehensive evaluation.


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