The instant I get even a tiny bit stressed out, a pimple pops up on my cheek, my forehead, my nose, or somewhere else on my face. And no matter how much I do to get rid of them, the moment I start getting anxious, they always seem to come right back. As a student, stress is a huge part of my life. Having to deal with homework, tests, work, and writing on a daily basis, sometimes my workload is just too much. On top of that, skincare is typically the last thing on my mind. Sure, I do wash my face consistently and moisturize and do the whole bit to keep it clean, but I sometimes wonder whether it’s worth going the extra mile with skincare if stress is just going to ruin my skin anyway.

However, I’ve always wondered if stress was the actual reason behind my extra pimple or two every week. Everyone has always affirmed this fact and never told me anything different, but how much does science back it up?

How correlated is stress with skin problems?

To understand this, we must first look into what happens to our body when we get stressed out. When we are stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released into our bloodstream. This hormone is the key to finding out how our body changes when we are under pressure. For example, cortisol can make it harder for your skin to repair itself, thus leading to dull and dry skin. Wrinkles were also found to be a side-effect of stress.

Furthermore, stress can increase inflammation, causing more acne. Cortisol can also cause acne because it tells the glands in our bodies to produce more oil, which leads to more acne. In a 2003 Stanford study, it was found that when testing, (a.k.a. while under increased stress), college students had significantly more acne flare-ups. From this, scientists deduced that stress is highly correlated with acne. 

But, can stress also cause issues in other areas of your body relating to beauty? The answer is, unfortunately, a resounding yes. Hair loss and puffy, tired eyes can also be caused by stress. Stress can also cause greying and thinning hair, slowing down the process of growth and speeding up the ageing process by producing more melanin. Deep grooves in the nails are also likely to form as a result of stress.

How can we solve the problem?

The number one way we can all get rid of the acne, the wrinkles, the dry and dull skin, the hair loss, and the eye bags is by doing our best to destress. Practicing meditation, yoga, journaling, changing your environment – there are so many different ways to get rid of stress and lessen anxiety. It’s time we all took care of ourselves a little better – not only so that we can look better, but also so we can live healthier, longer, and more stress-free lives.

  • Srilekha Cherukuvada

    Srilekha Cherukuvada is a passionate writer and designer. Srilekha loves to also edit and participate in marketing strategizing as well as in NGOs and social justice initiatives. She owns a not-for-profit organization, Plannr Consulting, which strives to promote mental health awareness.