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From Stress to Zits: Understanding and Combatting Stress-Related Acne

Updated: Jun 28

Hello lovely!


Stress. gah. Have you gone through chapters in your life where stress seems to be a revolving door? You combat one thing that is stressing you out, only to have something else pop up. I hear it a LOT in my room with clients... "Why can't life just be a breeze with NO more stress inducing BS!". I WISH I could wave a magic wand for you, but it reality, life will always have its great times and not so great times. Stress can even be a part of the great times as well! Think about buying your first house or having a baby? It's an AMAZING experience, but definitely comes with it's fair share of stress!


I am diving into how stress fuels acne and inflammation in your skin (think rosacea and redness too), and what you can do about it.


I do want to put out something out there for you that I learned a LONG time ago before losing Evan, which has helped me so many times manage uncertainty (never perfectly though): "What you resist, will persist". Think of your nervous system as energy. All of your stress and the symptoms that come with it (tension, rumination, shaking) are all excess energy that needs to come out. If we add MORE energy in trying to FIGHT it (fight = big energy), then we are just adding more fuel to the fire. Instead, learn things that can help you increase the capacity of being WITH the stress and the symptoms and emotions around it. Here are a few of mine:


  • noticing my breath

  • reaching out to friends

  • snuggling with my dogs

  • having my partner put his hand on my chest

  • grounding in the grass

  • gardening

  • getting outside

  • talking with a mental health professional

  • monthly massage

  • monthly facial (my favourite for acne and includes many stress reducing techniques is my KBeauty Oxygen Facial)


Get your list of go-tos written down so that you can easily refer to it when you feel out of sorts and can't think straight.


Now let's dive into the stress connection and how it fuels acne and inflammation!


So think about it this way: have you ever noticed how your skin seems to go haywire just when you’re about to give that big presentation or meet someone important? If so, you’re not alone. Stress doesn’t just mess with your mind; it takes a toll on your skin too. Let’s dive into how stress can turn your skin into an acne battlefield, and more importantly, what you can do about it.


The Stress-Acne Connection

woman getting an acne treatment

I'm going to make this as easy for you to digest by using some metaphors! So, imagine your skin as a peaceful city. Everything runs smoothly until stress, like a rogue weather system, blows in and causes chaos. Here’s a breakdown of the storm:


Hormonal Hurricanes ⛈️

  • Cortisol Surge: When you're stressed, your body releases cortisol, often dubbed the "stress hormone." High cortisol levels trigger your skin's oil glands to go into overdrive.

  • Oil Slicks: Excess oil production can clog your pores, leading to the formation of acne. Think of it as your skin's equivalent of a traffic jam caused by an unexpected influx of cars.


Immune System Shutdown 🚫

  • Inflammation Station: Stress weakens your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off the bacteria that cause acne. This leads to more inflammation and redness, like a fire spreading through a forest.

  • Delayed Healing: Stress slows down the skin’s healing process. Those pesky pimples take longer to disappear, much like potholes that never seem to get fixed. (Thunder Bay people will DEFINITELY get this one!)


Lifestyle Loop-de-loops 🎢

  • Sleep Sabotage: Stress often leads to poor sleep, which can wreak havoc on your skin. Lack of sleep means your skin doesn’t get a chance to repair itself, leaving it dull and prone to breakouts.

  • Diet Disasters: Ever reach for junk food when you're stressed? Sugary, greasy foods can spike insulin levels and lead to more breakouts. It’s like adding fuel to the fire.


Breaking the Cycle: Tips to Tame Stress and Acne

Now that we know how stress can turn your skin into an acne warzone, let’s talk about ways to restore peace and calm.



Mindfulness and Meditation 🧘‍♀️

  • Calm Your Mind: Incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your daily routine. These practices can help lower cortisol levels and reduce overall stress. I love the app "Insight Timer" for free meditations.

  • Deep Breaths: Simple breathing exercises can work wonders. Try inhaling deeply for four counts, holding for four, and exhaling for four


Skincare Routine Refresh 🧴

  • Gentle Cleansing: Use a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil and keep your pores clear without stripping your skin. If you have oily skin - my go to is Clarify by Green Envee, for dry skin: Soothe by Green Envee, and for sensitive skin: Dermathod Dermarevive cleanser.

  • Hydration is Key: Don’t forget to moisturize! Stress can dehydrate your skin, so keep it nourished with a good moisturizer.


Healthy Habits 🍏

  • Balanced Diet: Aim for a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid excessive sugar and greasy foods. Stay tuned for some lovely summer drinks you can incorporate into your routine that will help bring down inflammation in your body and taste delightful.

  • Beauty Sleep: Prioritize your sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to give your skin the rest it needs to heal and regenerate.


Exercise and Physical Activity 🏃‍♂️

  • Sweat it Out: Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve circulation, giving your skin a healthy glow. Just remember to cleanse properly post workout! Using a spray that can help kill acne bacteria can be beneficial. This one is a great option: Green Envee Bright.

  • Yoga and Stretching: These activities are particularly effective at reducing stress and promoting relaxation.


Seek Professional Help

  • Talk to a skincare specialist: If stress-induced acne is a persistent issue, consider seeing a skin specialist (me!). We can recommend acne specialist treatments that target acne at its root.

  • Seek out a therapist. Chatting with someone who can give you more tools and listen to your though process can make a world of difference. You don't need to manage stress and anxiety alone.


Stress and acne might seem like an unbeatable duo, but with the right strategies, you can keep both in check. Remember, taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your skin. So, next time stress comes knocking, you’ll be ready to show it the door.

Stay calm, stay clear, and keep glowing! 🌟


For more in-depth information, check out these resources:



Let's keep the conversation going below. What are your go to resources that help you through stressful times? PS. Acne itself can cause more stress, and I know it's so hard to move through that, so please try and be kind to yourself and your skin while you are healing.


Cheers to healthy, glowing skin,


Michele xo



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