How To Actually Soothe Super-Stressed Skin

Your psyche isn't the only part of you that feels the heat when you're under pressure. Your skin — and particularly your complexion — can get as stressed-out as a CEO. Only, stress on the skin manifests a little differently. Maybe your go-to beauty products are starting to feel uncomfortable. Perhaps they even sting a little. Or your makeup doesn’t sit well. There might be flakes, a few pimples, and even red patches.

“When your skin starts to change for the worse, you need to rethink your whole regimen to help it correct,” says dermatologist Amy Taub, MD. Whatever the reason — a grueling work schedule (stress!), back-to-back weddings (booze!), gajillions of car-exhaust particles floating around (pollutants!) — the fix is the same. Take a breath. Simplify. And then, break out the big guns. Ahead, our favorite doctors share their go-to products for when skin starts to flip out.
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Cleanser
This airy foam facial cleanser removes every trace of makeup — even waterproof mascara — without stripping skin or drying it out. “When it comes to cleansing stressed-out skin, 'gentle' is the operative word,” says Boston-based dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, MD. This formula has soothing oatmeal and super-hydrating soy extract.

Aveeno Naturals Positively Radiant Makeup Removing Cleanser, $8.49, available at Walgreens.
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Anti-Aging Cream
You don’t need to abandon anti-aging ingredients when your skin gets stressed, according to Amy B. Lewis, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine: “This formula has anti-inflammatory ingredients that calm, and it also boosts collagen stores.” The keys are naturally occurring glycoproteins — a fancy way of saying "sugar molecules with a little protein" — that trigger repair and renewal. Smooth on a thin layer after p.m. cleansing.

Senté Dermal Repair Cream, $169.95, available at Senté.
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Calming Mask
Masks can transform stressed skin — you've just got to take the time to let them do their job. Dr. Lewis likes this Neova formula, which replenishes moisture and improves skin texture with a copper peptide complex. “The reason masks work so well is that the ingredients sit there for about 20 minutes, so they absorb,” she says. “This mask in particular is immediately calming and reduces redness.”

Neova Copper Moisture Mask, $49, available at Dermstore.
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— PAID —
Antioxidant Serum
Fine lines. Uneven texture. Dark spots. Some of the first signs of aging are caused by oxidative stress. So a hydrating serum packed full of antioxidants should be your go-to line of defense. This one from Perricone MD is as lightweight as they come in texture (seriously, your skin will drink it up), but doesn't skimp on protection. Each glass bottle includes a mix of antioxidants, vitamin C, and skin-loving hydrators, improving the look of your skin instantly and over time.
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Anytime, Anywhere Cream
When your skin is stressed, it craves extra hydration. Dr. Hirsch recommends slathering on this First Aid Beauty formula. The whipped butter may feel a little thick, but it absorbs in a snap. And ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, and ceramides act fast to soothe and calm skin.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration, $30, available at Sephora.
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Body Wash
While a long, steamy shower can help you relax mentally, it only exacerbates a stressed-out complexion. Don’t despair — Dr. Hirsch relies on this body wash by Dove to protect stressed skin from the potentially irritating activity of a (cue the Jaws music) hot shower. The lush, creamy wash hydrates better than most moisturizers and leaves skin feeling softer than before you stripped down. It does contain cleansers, but they’re very mild and wrapped in glycerin and soybean oil to boost the skin’s moisture barrier.

Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash, $4.92, available at Walmart.
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Face Oil
Dr. Taub swears by this blend of nourishing oils like safflower, meadow-foam, and coconut. “It’s hydrating and healing in a big way,” she says. Add a drop to your day cream for a moisture boost or simply tap it onto your face after cleansing. The oil soaks in so quickly that you can put on makeup over it 15 minutes later.

Epionce Priming Oil, $30, available at Dermstore.
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S.O.S. Cream
This is the formula Dr. Taub relies on to help flaky, dry skin recover. Packed with mineral oil, glycerin, and squalane, this lotion may not feel like one of those thick, pudding-like creams that gets the job done, but don’t be fooled. It has been shown to restore the lipid layer, one of the first things that needs TLC when the complexion is aggravated.

Avène Skin Recovery Cream, $34, available at Dermstore.
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