It happened again.
You’re working under the clock and staying up late at night to finish that project in time, and just before the deadline hits, your face erupts into red, angry pimples.
And they say stress has nothing to do with acne… but then why do breakouts always appear when you’re under stress, or have a date with someone you want to impress?
Coincidence? Sometimes it seems like it’s all in your head. After all, your best friend gets stressed too and acne isn’t plaguing her as much.
Is there really a connection?
Yes. Scientists have finally confirmed what we knew all along: “Changes in acne severity correlate highly with increasing stress, suggesting that emotional stress from external sources may have a significant influence on acne.”
It just doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Oily skin, for example, is more prone to stress acne than other skin types.
Here’s everything to know about the relationship between acne and stress and how to deal with stress acne - before it even makes an appearance:
How Does Stress Cause Acne?
I’m sure you’ve heard about antioxidants. They’re part of your skin’s police, the little molecules that patrol your body looking for free radicals to destroy.
But what happens when the free radicals on your skin overwhelm your antioxidant defenses?
Wrinkles. Dark spots. Acne.
Let’s focus on the latter. It all starts with too much oil. Stress triggers hormones like cortisol and testosterone that inflame your skin and tell it to pump out more oil than your skin needs. More oil = higher chance of breakouts.
At the same time, stress reduces your antioxidant reserves. Without enough antioxidants around, this extra sebum oxidizes. Free radicals flock to it like bees to honey.
Next thing you know, free radicals destroy the linings of your pores. Now acne bacteria can get deeper into them.
Your body sounds the alarm to stop the advance of bacteria. It triggers inflammation, its natural defense against anything that tries to hurt it.
Scientists call this oxidative load - it’s the beginning of stress acne.
It usually happens when your skin doesn’t have enough antioxidants to protect itself.
Guess what? Studies show that acne patients have significantly lower levels of antioxidants (including Vitamin A and E and antioxidant enzymes). The lower the amount of antioxidants, the more severe the acne.
How Do You Prevent Stress Acne?
Stress is always gonna be a part of your life. You can’t change that. But you can reduce its impact on your life and skin. Here’s how:
1. Use Antioxidants-Rich Products
Remember when I mentioned that a lack of antioxidants leaves you prone to oxidative stress and breakouts?
Adding products with Vitamins A, C and E can help your skin top up its antioxidant defenses.
We packed both Vitamins A & C together in our Skin Fix Serum, a powerful cocktail that targets both acne and the signs of aging.
Want to add Vitamin E to the mix, too? You’ll find it in our Super C 20% Vitamin C Serum, together with fellow antioxidant ferulic acid.
2. Eat The Rainbow
Did you know that a diet low in fiber and rich in carbohydrates (i.e. the typical Western diet) is associated with a higher risk of acne?
Here’s the deal: fiber is the favorite food of the healthy bacteria living in your gut. When you’re not eating enough, the bad bacteria proliferate and cause all kinds of damage - including preventing your body from absorbing all the antioxidants it needs.
It’s the brain-gut connection and it’s responsible for depression, anxiety, stress and… acne.
You’ve read that right: what you eat affects your stress levels. Research shows that “Zinc, folic acid, selenium, chromium and omega-3 fatty acids are all examples of nutrients which have been shown to influence depression, anger and/or anxiety. These same nutrients, along with systemic oxidative stress and an altered intestinal microflora have been implicated in acne vulgaris.’”
Go eat that rainbow, girl!
3. Practice Mindfulness
Skincare and diet play a key role in reducing the damage stress wreaks on your body. But wouldn’t it be amazing if you didn’t feel so stressed all the time, anyway?
This is where mindfulness comes in. Things like daily meditation, going for a walk in nature or listening to soothing music can help you be more present in the moment and reduce stress and anxiety.
Another trick is to schedule some non-negotiable self-care time in your diary. Have a bubble bath, visit a spa or read a book. Whatever relaxes you.
The Bottom Line
It’s not just your imagination. Stress can cause acne. Eat the rainbow, use the right skincare products, chill out a bit more and you won’t have to deal with stress acne so often anymore.