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How Stress Affects Your Skin (+ How to Repair It)

woman laying down in flowers, skin close up pores

Have you ever wondered why your skin is behaving the way it is? One moment it’s thriving, you’ve got the glow, you’ve got the smooth texture and clear complexion, then the next moment, everything turns upside down.

You’re left thinking…”what’s going on with my skin?”.

Well, have you ever made the link that stress may be one of the main factors for your skin’s misbehaviour and misery?

The truth is, stress can and does play a major role in our skin health and impacts the way our body functions on a day to day basis.

First things first, what’s the definition of stress?

Stress is when you experience a deep sense of worry, usually caused by difficult and challenging situations. Stress can look like; moving house, a breakup, getting married, working a demanding job and the list goes on. The tough truth is that stress is a regular part of many lives, but it’s how we manage our stress that’s important.

What does stressed skin look like?

woman looking out with a shadow on her face contemplating

Stress is going to affect different people in different ways, but if you suspect that stress is impacting your skin, here’s some of the signs you should look out for…


Has your complexion changed since you became stressed? Sudden dullness, redness or blemishes could well be a sign that your body is trying to combat stress.


If your skin texture has changed, this is also a sign that worry could be getting the best of you. Dry, flaky skin, wrinkles and rashes clearly show that your body and your skin is very stressed out.


Experiencing eye bags and sagging skin? These are additional results of a stress-filled lifestyle. Stress can cause your natural collagen levels to break down, resulting in much looser skin.

On top of this, if you already have existing skin conditions, you can count on stress to make them flare up. Acne, psoriasis, pruritus, and erythema can all be effected by extreme worry.

Stress and skin barrier recovery

Hand, skin with babies breath flowers

We know from research that stress does affect the skin barrier. In some cases, stress can cause an increase in transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Where your skin barrier would normally be retaining hydration and fighting infection, stress can cause the skin to behave in unusual ways. The stress hormone cortisol can actually cause your skin to slow down its natural wound healing process, which is why it may take your skin a bit longer than usual to get out of its funk when you’re going through a hard time.

How to repair your skin barrier

1. First things first, keep it simple

Simplify your skincare routine. Adding too many products into the mix will agitate and upset your skin even further. Sometimes less is more.

2. Use gentle products

If your skin feels tighter, dryer and stings after using certain products, it’s best to give those products a break. Draw back from the many active ingredients that cause your skin to work harder than it needs to. If your skin is really stressed out, stay away from actives like retinol, tretinoin, AHAs and BHAs. Once your skin starts to recover, you can slowly reintroduce these ingredients at a very mild frequency.

3. Use ingredients that repair and nourish

Barrier damage essentially means that your skin has been compromised. It now needs to be fed the best ingredients to help repair the stratum corneum (your skin’s outermost layer). This means using ingredients that are beneficial for wound-healing, along with hydrating ingredients.

Ceramides are a key ingredient as they help the skin to consistently function as normal.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are also key to strengthening your skin barrier and keeping it healthy. EFAs will help your skin in general by helping to protect it from environmental stressors, pollution and UV damage which negatively affects the skin’s appearance.

Ceramides and EFAs can be found in many plant oils that are provided by nature. Plant oils are especially good for your skin barrier as they help to maintain moisture levels and work as occlusives which means that they add a barrier of defence to the skin. Our Superior Complexion Antioxidant Serum is packed with game-changing nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E, F & K and Omegas 3, 5, and 6 fatty acids.

Don’t forget to also incorporate hydrating ingredients to your skincare routine. The most common would be hyaluronic acid but there are many other ingredients on the market that can help. Some of our favourites found in our new Serene Green Clay Mask are coconut milk and cucumber extract.

Our most important piece of advice is to listen to your skin. When something is up, it will tell you.

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