How Stress Affects Your Face

And some simple stress relief tips for feeling and looking better.
How Stress Affects Your Face - Skincare Library

Let’s talk about stress. You have it, you feel it, but did you know you can see it? It’s a fact that a high-stress lifestyle makes you look up to 3.5 years older.* That’s not the only visible side effect: stress-related skin conditions include everything from redness and dryness to itching and breakouts. Stress isn’t going anywhere, but there are ways to manage it. That’s why we tapped Dr. Howard Murad, a pioneer in the study of the effects of stress on skin, to share his inside-out approach to stressing less, being imperfect, living longer…and looking better.

How stress affects your face
“When undergoing stress, the body releases cortisol, a natural hormone that’s part of the fight or flight experience,” says Dr. Murad. “In small doses, cortisol helps the body manage stress. However, in our rapidly changing, always-on environment, cortisol is on a constant drip.” It’s this constant drip that leads to high levels of cortisol that effect every tissue in our bodies, including our skin.

A few stress related skin conditions include:

  • Collagen and elastin breakdown show as lines and wrinkles
  • Cell turnover becomes irregular, leading to dull-looking, tired-looking skin
  • Skin’s barrier suffers and loses its ability to retain water, leading to dry and irritated skin
  • Eye skin is thinner and blood vessels are more prominent, leading to under-eye circles

How to manage stress for a happier life and healthier skin

Beware of creating your own stress
Finding ways to de-stress (starting a yoga class when we’ve never done yoga, finding time in an already packed schedule to start a hobby) can sometimes make us stress even more. Dr. Murad says the best way to alleviate stress is to find what works for you. For some it’s a cooking class, for others it’s a private walk with some soothing music. There’s no wrong way to de-stress as long as you’re doing what works for you.

Give yourself permission to be imperfect
The quest to be the fittest, the most successful, and the best at whatever we do can cause incredible levels of stress. “Trying to live up to standards of perfection only devalues or own gifts and accomplishments,” says Dr. Murad. “You don’t have to be perfect to be valued and loved.” Rather than measuring yourself against an imagined idea of perfection, reflect on what makes you special and what you bring to every situation that no one else does.

Take 5 for yourself
Skincare is selfcare: and developing a skincare ritual can be an essential part of your overall wellness routine. “Just take 5 minutes a day. One of my favorite forms of stress relief is with a facial,” says Dr. Murad. “It’s a form of selfcare one can give oneself. And, you can make it as much about skincare as it is emotional care by creating a relaxing environment.”
One of our fast and favorite de-stressing routines? Slip Revitalixir Recovery Serum™ into the fridge for 5 minutes, smooth the cool serum over your skin, then follow with a jade roller.

Now that you know how stress affects your face, shop murad.com to find products that help address the visible effects of stress on skin.