Stress and Your Skin (Part 1)

What is Stress?

The definition of stress is somewhat difficult to pin down, as stress is different for each person. According to Psychology Today, “Stress is simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium.”

The APA describes what happens to your body during short periods of stress: “Acute stress — stress that is momentary or short-term such as meeting deadlines, being stuck in traffic or suddenly slamming on the brakes to avoid an accident — causes an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle, with the stress hormones — adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol — acting as messengers for these effects.”

These chemicals, as well as the constriction of muscles can have less than optimal effects on your skin, such as the following:

Under Eye Bags

Eyebags, or as they are known scientifically, Periorbital puffiness can be caused by stress. Not only do they become exacerbated by lack of sleep (something that tends to go hand in hand with stress) but stress can cause water retention under the eyes making you look tired and haggard.


Rising cortisol levels due to both physical and emotional stress have been linked to acne breakouts. Additionally, stress may cause you to increase harmful skin behaviors such as not removing your makeup before bed, getting less sleep, and/or eating more junk food.


“Eczema is sometimes called dermatitis which means inflammation of the skin. There are different types of eczema. The most common type is atopic eczema. In this type of eczema there is a typical pattern of skin inflammation which causes the symptoms.” ( It is not well understood how stress creates flare-ups of eczema, but many people report their eczema getting worse when stressed.


Do you scrunch your face when you’re concentrating or less than happy? Stress can increase fine lines on your face, due to the repetitive facial movements you make. Not only does the constant scrunching deepen lines, but according to constant stress has been shown to prematurely age facial cells.

Next Steps

In our next blog, we will cover some of the ways you can start reducing stress in your life.

If your skin is ready for a fresh start, we're here to help with an affordable, pain free solution. Contact us for a free consultation at our beautiful facility in Westminster, Colorado.

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