Stressed-Out Skin: An Owner's Guide

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We hate the feeling of being utterly stressed out more than pretty much anything else. But, what we hate even more? Stressing out about the effects that stress has on our faces. As certified nutritional counselor Staley Sednaoui points out, skin is our body's largest organ, meaning that any strife that's taking a toll on your mind and inner body will inevitably show up on your mug — but not all stress-related skin issues look the same, says Sednaoui.

"Inflammation, stress, or an allergic reaction can show up on the skin with redness, rash, acne breakouts, tiny blisters, or skin that’s hot to the touch," Sednaoui says, adding that scaly, dry patches or itchiness can also be physical manifestations of anxiety. Karen Asquith, lead aesthetician and national director of education for G.M. Collin Skin Care, adds that stress-related skin issues often manifest in the chin area and travel outward — but, regardless, it's not always easy to pinpoint what is causing certain skin symptoms.

Sednaoui advises that stress-related skin issues need to be treated from the outside and the inside simultaneously. "When we have a skin flare-up, the natural reaction is to find some lotion or cream that will 'stop' the breakout," she explains. "Usually, these products have a 'performance' component to them, which is often a chemical compound that is very drying and abrasive to the skin." Sednaoui recommends turning to pure, simple products such as Beautycounter's Lustro Face Oil 3, which is effective for rosacea, acne, and eczema. At the same time, Sednaoui notes that individuals should determine what is stressing them out and take appropriate steps to lower stress levels, which will soothe inflammation from the outside. "Are you getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, getting some sunshine, eating your vegetables, and generally taking care of yourself? These behaviors lower stress-hormone production, which translates directly into better health and naturally glowing skin."

If you're someone who typically allows self-care to fall by the wayside in the face of stressful events or situations, a little planning can go a long way toward preserving the state of your mind, body, and skin. "When you know you have a stressful event coming up," says Sednaoui, "plan to get extra sleep, have a few green smoothies that week, take some extra vitamin C, skip the junk food, and maybe try to get to that restorative yoga class. In our world, we are conditioned to go, go, go, but there’s nothing wrong with planning a little self-care." She also points out that sticking to a simple, nurturing skin routine can help preserve your complexion, even in the eye of the (stress) storm. "Skin absorbs 60% of what we put on it," says Sednaoui. "When we perspire, it’s one of our body’s ways to detox. By using products with no toxic chemicals, you are giving your skin the moisture and botanicals it needs to stay in balance."

So, if you're proactive about managing your stress in advance, your skin will be happier, which means you will be happier. And, there's nothing more satisfying than nipping the stressed-out skin cycle in the bud.



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