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October 19, 2023

Absolute Collagen's Guide to Stressed Skin

5 mins read By Darcy Laceby skin

We're here to talk about how stress can cause skin problems, what stressed skin looks like, and how you can manage stress-related skin conditions!

Whether it’s managing the endearing chaos of family life or there’s a growing mountain of emails at work to get through, none of us are strangers to the sting of stress. However, everyone has a different definition of stress, with tolerances and thresholds varying from person to person. 

Let’s imagine stress as water boiling in a pot, for example. When the water boils over and spills out, a person’s adaptive capability to cope has been breached and stress ensues. For some, there may be a higher temperature under the pot (e.g. increasing responsibility at work), while others may have more water in the pot to begin with (e.g. history of depression or low finances). On the other hand, people might have larger pots than others and are more naturally resilient to the effects of stress.

It just depends on the type of stress you’re dealing with, and what your personal situation might be.

How does stress affect skin?

But, we hear you ask, what does wellbeing have to do with stressed skin? And how can stress cause skin rashes and lead to other conditions?

Well, the ‘brain-skin connection’ has been a topic of discussion for thousands of years, dating back to ancient Greek and Chinese physicians. This concept is all about how there is a vital intimate connection between the mind, body, brain, and skin. Our mental state and emotions can affect our skin – and vice versa.

So, when stress has a major impact on your wellbeing, it can cause detrimental changes to the structure and function of your skin. This can affect the barrier, sensory, and immune functions on your skin – as well as the homeostasis (stability) - which leads to stress-related skin conditions. 

1. Stress can cause acne, spots, and clogged pores

Stress hormones, such as cortisol, can depress your immune system and trigger an increased state of inflammation – making it more likely you experience a flare up of stressed skin. Cortisol can also increase production of sebum (oily substance that keeps skin moisturised), which can lead to stressed skin problems such as clogged pores, spots, and acne.

2. Stress can cause irregular pigmentation

Stress can have a big impact on your immune system, making you more prone to general infections (so it’s important to stay as zen as possible during cold and flu season!). In terms of stress-related skin conditions, you will be more prone to skin infections when stressed. This includes autoimmune conditions such as vitiligo, where you get hypopigmented (lighter) patches of skin.

3. Stress can cause dry skin

When stressed, your skin loses moisture much more rapidly and cannot hold onto water as effectively. As such, stressed skin problems also include dry skin, making your skin more prone to cracking and fissuring. This can be painful and impair your skin barrier function, which, in turn, can lessen your skin’s ability to fight off any infections or allergens. 

4. Stress can cause skin rashes and itching

While not everyone will develop itchy bumps, hives, or blisters, stress hormone chemical triggers will still likely play havoc with the overall health of your skin. That’s why, as a result of becoming more sensitive and easily irritated, stress can cause skin rashes and itching breakouts.

5. Stress can exacerbate fine lines and wrinkles

Wrinkles and fine lines are a completely natural part of ageing. Stressed skin, however, can accelerate the formation of these lines and wrinkles, as well as hollow, sunken eyes, dark circles, and irregular pigmentation.

If you’ll bear with us while we get a bit sciencey, this accelerated ageing is due to stress hormones causing the breakdown of essential proteins (such as collagen and elastin) in your skin. These proteins provide the structure, support, strength, and flexibility that your skin requires to keep its youthful look. So, this destruction leads to stressed skin, which then leads to more defined fine lines and wrinkles. 

 

How to treat stressed skin

The best way to treat stressed skin is to directly address the cause of your stress at its source. We understand that this can be tricky, however, as stress is a difficult trigger to avoid completely. 

If you cannot remove the stressful situations entirely, then look to different coping strategies to help improve stress-related skin conditions. This can include exercising, listening to music, spending time with loved ones, exploring nature, taking up a new hobby, or practising meditation – anything that can help you feel more zen! 

If you’re really concerned about your stress levels, it can be helpful to speak to your doctor about your experience. The same goes for worries about stressed skin problems – book an appointment with your GP or get a referral to a dermatologist to put your mind at ease.

We have also pulled together some tips for how to treat stressed skin specifically, which includes:

  • Avoid eating too much sugary foods: Sugar can damage skin components, such as collagen, and can exacerbate stress-related skin conditions, including premature ageing. So, if you’re looking for stressed skin rash treatments, see how you can tweak your diet accordingly. 
  • Keep up your regular skin care routine: We know that skin care routines can fall by the wayside when you’re feeling stressed, but it’s important to maintain and simplify them, if need be. To avoid stressed skin problems, we recommend cleaning your skin with a gentle cleanser twice a day, and using products that include bakuchiol - such as our Maxerum serum!
  • Moisturise every day with non-comedogenic products: Non-comedogenic products contain ingredients that won’t clog or block the pores on your skin, so these are safe to use when you’re experiencing stressed skin.
  • Protect your skin from the sun: Check to make sure you’re getting the best sun protection during the day from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA levels are constant all year round and cannot be filtered by clouds and windows, unlike UVB. They penetrate deeper into the skin and are the main cause of photodamage and photoaging, which can exacerbate stress-related skin conditions. 

 

 

Can collagen help treat stressed skin?

To understand how collagen relates to stressed skin problems, we first need to look at the structure of our skin.

Essentially, the skin is made up of two layers. The top layer - the epidermis - is mostly providing a barrier function. The bottom layer is called the dermis, which provides structure as well as containing organs and systems, such as blood vessels, nerves, lymphatics, and immune cells.

Keeping our focus on that bottom layer, the dermis is mostly composed of collagen. It provides strength and a support structure for your skin, as well as a degree of flexural integrity. In practical terms, collagen keeps your skin plump, bouncy, and firm!

However, natural collagen levels start to decline from around the age of 25, which leads to fine lines and wrinkles that can deepen over time. What’s more, stress can accelerate this decline, emphasising those signs of ageing

But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with these stress-related skin problems. Our Absoluters have testimonials detailing how they noticed an improvement in the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines when taking our collagen supplements. Don’t just take our word for it though – explore our best collagen success stories or delve deeper into the science behind collagen!

In conclusion, stress can be very debilitating and detrimental to a person’s wellbeing, often leading to stress-related skin problems. But crucially, there are steps you can take to treat stressed skin and improve your overall wellbeing. I would like to say please look after yourselves and others if you can. Stay safe, be positive, and try to keep happy - and please get in touch with myself or the team should you need to!

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Article written by Darcy Laceby

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