How Stress Affects Acne and 5 Ways You Can Deal With It

How Stress Affects Acne and 5 Ways You Can Deal With It

Ever feel like you always get a huge zit right before a major life moment? Turns out that there’s a reason why beyond the universe playing a cruel trick on you.  If you’re feeling a bit anxious as a certain event approaches (say, midterms or a big business meeting), stress levels can go up and create the potential for an eruption. “Psychological stress can both trigger and worsen inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis and acne,” says neuroscientist Claudia Aguirre.  Many people who suffer from chronic skin disorders tend to notice more flare-ups when their stress levels are elevated.

How does it work?

Stress doesn’t directly cause acne or breakouts, but it does act as a trigger for the factors that contribute to the development of breakouts. Whether it’s a new Tinder date or a major presentation, your body releases a natural hormone, stress, in response to stress. In small amounts, cortisol is normal but if stress levels are high,  “cortisol can increase inflammation and sebum production in the skin,” says Aguirre. The additional oil and inflammation can then clog the pores leading to the development of inflammation and bacteria– resulting in acne. To makes things worse, acne can often cause stress in itself so we start a vicious cycle. “Our mental wellbeing is often reflected first on our skin,” says Aguirre. But as with psychological stress, “the severity of acne may depend more on our tolerance and resilience to stress, rather than the stress alone so it’s important to learn effective coping mechanisms,” says Aguirre. Cue the meditation movement that is becoming so popular across the country. Here, five ways to clear your mind and your skin:

Focus Your Breathing: Lodro Rinzler, Chief Spiritual Officer of MNDFL meditation studio in NYC recommends this easy practice:
Sit cross-legged and take a relaxed but upright posture.
1. Do a short body scan – feel the weight of your body on the earth and the gentle lift of your spine.
2. Then,tune into the natural cycle of your breath.
3. Feel the breath; no need to overthink this basic physical sensation.

“When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath. Set a timer for ten minutes, do that once a day for three weeks, and you will see the transformative effects of meditation for yourself,” says Rinzler.

Go Barefoot: Skip the shoes and head outside, “grounding by connecting your bare feet with the earth is a powerful way to develop nervous system strength and parasympathetic nervous system dominance,” says Guru Jagat, Kundalini yoga instructor and author of Invincible Living: The Power of Yoga, The Energy of Breath, and Other Tools for a Radiant Life. This easy step (pun intended) can help the body “to self-soothe and switch gears from ho mode to relaxation,” says Guru Jagat.

Double Cleanse: The Kbeauty method uses the “like attracts like” theory to effectively remove excess sebum. An oil based cleanser (we like Cremorlab T.EN. Cremor Cleansing Gel Oil) effectively softens skin and removes excess oil and impurities. Follow with a water based foam cleanser to (try Saturday Skin Rise + Shine Purifying Cleanser) deep clean,  pores are left spotless but not stripped.

Massage Your Armpit: Sure, we know how therapeutic a rubdown for your back is…but you might want to consider a bit of R&R via your armpit.  It might sound funky but “the armpit is the conjunction of the body’s three nervous systems so t’s easy to build stress and blockage there,” says Guru Jagat. “Splashing cold water on each armpit for about 15 seconds or massaging the armpits with your thumb for one to three minutes can help increase energy and allow you to feel better.”

Hydrate Properly: Even if skin feels oily, it can be dehydrated and lack water. In turn, it can prompt the skin to produce more oil. Skip heavy creams and look for lightweight serums or gel moisturizers to add enough moisture to the skin. Try Be the Skin Botanical Pore Serum which contains astringents like thyme and sage to help reduce sebum so skin has a soft matte finish.

Watch Now: Does Stress Cause Pimples?

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