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Ask the Doctor: How Does Stress Affect My Skin?

You can stock your vanity with the best beauty products on the market, but stunning skin needs more than what’s applied from the outside in to radiate healthiness. If your complexion looks tired and lackluster, the problem and solution may be more profound than the potions you put on at bedtime.

When you feel like you’re doing everything right to no avail, have you considered your attitude? Even if you experience stress on an unconscious level, it will eventually manifest itself outward with negative effects on the condition of our hair, nails and skin.

The Science Behind Stress

In their book “Beautiful Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age” writers David E. Bank and Estelle Sobel call stress one of the three beauty burglars.  Why? Your body reacts to stress by constricting your blood vessels, reducing blood circulation and consequently, the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the skin. As stress zaps air and nutrition, it ups the production of hormones that send your oil glands (also known as the sebaceous glands) into overdrive, explains dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Skin Symptoms of Stress

Oil overload caused by stress can lead to acne breakouts, according to Zeichner. Sufferers of chronic skin conditions such as eczema may also notice flare ups when emotions become elevated.  Reduced oxygen and nutrients can cause an overall drab appearance.

Solutions Beyond Serums

Of course, proper products are essential to good skin care but there’s never been a better excuse to unwind at the end of the day – your “me time” is an essential element to your beauty routine.  Zeichner’s advice: “Try to keep calm.  Five minutes of meditation day may help more than just your mind!”

Who knew? Exercise is not only great for your figure but for your face too! The endorphins released when you work out can help reduce the effects and frequency of your stress outs. There are plenty of low-impact, relaxing options available such as pilates, yoga and tai chi.

Count your blessings, one, two, three…Having an attitude of gratitude can up your happiness quotient. A few moments spent remembering and recording something to be thankful for in a ‘gratitude journal’ is a daily practice that can change your perspective and your complexion simultaneously.

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing