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Stress And Skin - The #1 Skin Ager?

The Relationship Between Stress And Skin


We can all feel stressed at different points in our lives, with some of us currently feeling the effects whilst reading this. We can worry about a multitude of things at one time, feeling like we have no escape, reaching breaking point at some stage. During these times of stress, worry and anxiety, there could be some damage happening to your skin that you might not be aware of – premature aging! This is just one of the skin conditions caused by stress and anxiety, with the relationship between stress and skin being infinitely complex.

Premature aging is no laughing matter, nor are any stress related skin conditions, especially when we spend countless hours and many dollars buying and applying lotions and potions to try and reduce the effects of aging. Unfortunately, stress is making us look older than we are! It has been proven that when we allow stress to take over, we are making ourselves look up to 5 years older than we are – and even up to 10 years if you don’t manage your stress correctly for a long period of time.

Here at Cel, we have looked into the negative effects of stress on skin and how we can try to prevent these visual effects. Stress is taking its toll on your face and you need to stop it - skin conditioned caused by stress are thankfully preventable!

1. Dark Circles 

Dark circles are the enemy to all our anti-aging wishes. When we are stressed, we can break the fragile and vulnerable capillaries under your eyes. The blood can leak into the epidermis and become oxidized, which will result in a dark purple hue and a discoloration of the skin, creating the dark circles – giving that tired appearance.

Not only this, but when your body is dealing with stress, blood will be distributed to different, more important areas of the body, which doesn’t include the face and skin. The more stress your body is under, the more likely you are to look pale and drained as the blood is focused on the organs; making sure they keep working correctly during this period of 'fight or flight'. This, in turn, will make the appearance of dark circles more noticeable against the paler skin.

Related: 6 Simple Proven Tips To Combat Dark Circles

 2. Wrinkles 

Fine lines and wrinkles are not what you want to see when you look into a mirror. When we are stressed, our skin and indeed our whole body body can react in different ways. We may feel more emotional, lose our appetite, experience mood swings or it can affect our sleep – resulting in difficulty to function throughout the day. This can lead to a vicious circle, as the more stressed you are, the less sleep you will have, creating bigger issues. This is when the fine lines and wrinkles can form as a result of your body choosing to produce more cortisol. This stress hormone has been known to break down collagen in your skin, so the more stressed you are, the more the hormone will attack your skin regeneration, resulting in a few new fine lines and wrinkles. Cortisol does therefore play a very large role in the relationship between stress and skin. 

With lack of sleep, you will begin to show signs of fatigue; rubbing eyes and under-eye bags. The constant vigor of rubbing your tired eyes can cause the skin to lose elasticity, resulting in relaxed skin under the eyes, aging the face. Fine lines and wrinkles will appear as the elasticity weakens, with your eyes falling victim first.

3. Mini Menopause

Now, this might seem like an exaggeration, but unfortunately, it is true. When you’re stressed, your levels of cortisol rise, creating an imbalance of other hormones. Your body will experience a dip in estrogen, similar to when your body is going through menopause. During this time your body's hormone balance will change, and the development of collagen will decrease, leaving your skin looking dull and dry – not good!  

Although experiencing a 'mini-menopause' is quite an extreme reaction to stress, many women, when under large amounts of anxiety, have noticed a change in their menstrual cycle, either by having a delayed start or even skipping a month. [2]

4. Hives & Itchiness 

When your body is coping with stress, it can present as an inflammation or stress related skin conditions, such as:

  • Rashes
  • Rosacea
  • Eczema
  • And other changes in the skin’s moisture.

These different skin conditions caused by stress aggressors can harm and alter the way your skin regenerates, and lots of these stress-induced conditions result in scaring. Once the skin has been scared, it will struggle to return to its unblemished form, leaving you looking aged.

How To Relieve Stress 

Stress can seriously affect your body, in more ways than putting you in a bad mood. In truth, stress does speed up the aging process, so you need to find ways to subside the damaging effects of stress and allow your body to relax, unwind and re-center.

Once you’re able to calm and find your way of de-stressing, not only will your skin look and feel better but your overall health will thrive too. Some of these may work for you, but some may not, as stress and anxiety are extremely individual and only you will know what can help. Take a look at some of the ways we know can support your body when trying to relieve a negative imbalance between stress and skin;

  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Learn to say 'no'
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing

All the above can induce your levels of hormones that can combat the negative effects of stress and cortisol. For example, when we exercise, we are putting our bodies through physical stress, but this process will relieve mental tension by releasing feel-good hormones. The more you exercise, your body will release endorphins which will fight back against the anxieties caused by stress, helping to stop premature aging!

In Conclusion 

None of us are happy about aging! Watching our skin change in color, condition, and elasticity isn’t nice, so knowing that your stress could have caused you to age earlier is upsetting - especially if it is accompanied by stress related skin conditions. Although there are other factors that can accelerate the aging process, stress, unfortunately, is the biggest one that we can control. Try to find ways of reducing your cortisol levels and before you know it, you’ll be protecting your skin from the irreversible effects of aging!



Becca Trigg

An enthusiastic content writer, in love with finding inventive ways to care for our locks. Over the past few years, I have been able to gain ample haircare knowledge; specifically stem cell research and how it can be utilised to give our hair the beauty boost it needs. When I'm not in the office, I'm sitting in a country pub or watching crime documentaries.


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