How Stress Affects The Skin

Sometimes it feels like we are always dealing with stress. With work, family, kids and now COVID-19, we are all feeling a little more stressed than usual. It might be easy to ignore or normalise stress. Still, those small, ongoing hassles might start building up and leave you feeling chronically stressed. You might be wondering, why is this bad? Aren’t we all? To answer this, it is essential to understand how powerful our minds are and what exactly stress does to our bodies. Minor life stressors such as that pending deadline at work, trigger the biological stress response or has you may have heard it put your ‘fight or flight’ response.

When you encounter a perceived ‘threat’ (a stressor), your hypothalamus, a small region at your brain’s base, sets off an alarm system in your body. This signals your adrenal glands, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol which can lead to physical symptoms such as increased blood pressure, sweating and alertness. This response is an adaptive survival mechanism in life-threatening situations; however, when it becomes chronic, it can contribute to a wide range of health issues including cardiovascular disease, obesity, sexual dysfunction and skin problems. The long-term activation of the stress-response can also lead to overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that can disrupt almost all your body’s processes, including the immune system.


When you are stressed, your body produces cortisol, and as a result, your hypothalamus produces a hormone called corticotropin-releasing hormone (CHR). It is thought that CHR can stimulate oil release from the sebaceous glands around your hair follicles, which can lead to acne. Research conducted in 2017 found a high correlation between higher levels of stress and the severity of acne. Stress is also known to contribute to scarring, and slow down wound healing as it leads to inflammation, which impacts the body’s ability to repair itself.

As stress has the potential to weaken your immune system, it can contribute to an imbalance of bacteria in your gut and skin microbiome. When this imbalance occurs on your skin, it can lead to redness and itchy rashes and aggravate several conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and contact dermatitis. For example, stress can lead to the release of histamine, a compound that causes itchiness. Additionally, stress can disrupt the normal functions of the outermost layer of the skin (the skin barrier) and reduce both the innate and adaptive immunity of the epidermis. Stress can also impact the proteins in your skin and reduce its elasticity, which can contribute to wrinkle formation. How? Cortisol contributes to the breakdown of collagen and elastin.

If you’re feeling the effects of stress on your skin, a DMK treatment regime can help you to restore the internal functions and structures of the skin and calm any stress-induced flare-ups. DMK’s signature Enzyme Therapy is designed to oxygenate, strengthen, nourish and tone the skin to encourage optimal skin functioning. It works to address multiple skin dysfunctions, including acne, dehydration, congestion, dilated capillaries, redness, pigmentation, and uneven skin tone. Not to mention, booking in for some self-care time is a fantastic way to keep stress at bay.


Encountering stress in life is unavoidable but having a plan to manage it can make a huge difference to your overall wellbeing. Regular exercise is an important step in the fight against stress. There is a neurochemical basis as to why you feel great after going for that afternoon run! Exercise reduces stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and stimulates the production of endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers. It can also improve your quality of sleep and give you more confidence. Even a 20-minute walk a day can help clear the mind and reduce stress.

Practising mindfulness is another great technique to reduce stress every day. Learning to practise mindfulness can have an enormous benefit and involves learning to be in the present moment, knowing where your mind’s attention is and training yourself to keep your attention where you want it to be. There are several ways to practise mindfulness, including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy with stress reduction exercises, yoga and meditation. To start, practise a 10-minute mindfulness meditation once a day with deep breathing. Deep breathing exercises help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which can aid relaxation, slow the heart rate and calm the mind. Some other tips for coping with stress include scheduling time for relaxing activities, self-care and supplements.

Put some time aside in your busy schedule to paint your nails, pop on a face masque, take a relaxing bath, read a book or listen to music. If you need extra relief, Regul8’s RELAX is a great option. RELAX is designed to help re-establish alertness and clarity during times of mental fatigue or strain and is formulated with lemon balm, passionflower and Rhodiola – all of which are known for their therapeutic benefits. RELAX works with your body to support healthy cognitive functioning, adrenal function and assists with relieving nervousness and restlessness. It is also great for improving sleep quality and supporting healthy digestive functioning.

Regul8 Relax is available at Skin4U Glenelg.

Check out our other services here, and take some time for you to treat your skin and unwind!

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