Can Stress Cause Skin Breakouts, Acne And Oiliness?

Does stress cause skin breakouts?

Often, it’s in those exact moments that we feel the most stressed – maybe we’ve got a deadline looming or a presentation due at work – that a spot pops up.

I’ve certainly had my fair share of breakouts, which all seem to make an appearance when I’m extra busy or worried about other things. Personally, a stress-related breakout is the last thing I want during these moments – I’ve already got enough on my mind, after all! And although there’s nothing wrong with oilier, spot-prone complexions, the truth is that they can sometimes have an impact on your overall well-being, especially when your skin feels sore and painful, and it can take its toll on your self-confidence, too.

Since starting my stressed skin series, I’ve been learning more and more about the ways that stress impacts the skin. So, for the third edit in this series, I’ll be diving a little bit deeper into stressed skin and the direct role it plays on oiliness, unexpected blemishes and acne. I’ll also offer a few skincare recommendations to target your skin’s individual needs to help your skin during a stress-related breakout.

But firstly, one question needs answering in a little bit more detail:


Does stress cause skin breakouts?

There’s no doubt about it – hormones can wreak havoc on our skin. Lots of us will remember our blemish-prone teen years. This can be put down to increased levels of the hormone, testosterone. And if you’re like me, then you won’t be a stranger to a cluster of breakouts during your period; this is linked to a drop in your body’s estrogen and progesterone hormone levels, which triggers an overproduction of sebum (the skin’s natural oils).

So, it should come as no surprise that cortisol – which has been dubbed the ‘stress hormone’ – can take a toll on our complexion too. Cortisol has been shown to send the skin’s oil glands into overdrive. And an excess of sebum not only causes the complexion to look oilier and greasier, but it also runs the risk of clogging pores. So, the answer is yes: stress can make your skin oily and lead to subsequent breakouts. But, is acne a sign of stress? Although it doesn’t appear to directly cause acne, stress can make acne worse or trigger it for those who already struggle with this skin concern, while research suggests that wounds, including acne wounds, heal more slowly when a person is under stress.

So how can you tell if you’re breaking out because of hectic schedules or underlying anxieties? Of course, it can be tricky, but a key indicator can be their location; stress-related blemishes are more likely to appear around the oilier parts of your face, specifically, the T-Zone: the forehead, nose and chin.

Now that we know a little bit about how stress impacts skin, let’s get to my four recommendations, which I have chosen especially for different skin needs – from excess oiliness to acne. And to make sure your skincare routine is hardworking but stress-free, I’ll be focusing on fuss-free formulas that are quick and easy to use.


1. The Quick-Fix Treatment For Pesky Breakouts

Stress and breakouts: Vichy Normaderm S.O.S Sulphur Anti-Spot Paste
Sometimes, we won’t see long-term effects of stress on the skin, but instead, we might just have a small breakout. If you’re someone who tends to experience sudden breakouts, then the chances are that you don’t want to switch out your entire skincare routine just to target the odd spot. But that’s where targeted spot treatments come into their own. And Vichy’s Normaderm S.O.S Anti-Spot solution is a great example.

Clinically proven to reduce the appearance of blemishes, the anti-blemish treatment targets the appearance of pores and tackles spots using its hardworking drying action. Packed with lots of anti-spot hero ingredients – namely, 10% sulphur, niacinamide and glycolic acid – the treatment shrinks blemishes while it also helps to visibly improve the overall skin quality. I love that this skin-calming S.O.S spot treatment is suitable for sensitive complexions, all thanks to its hypoallergenic formula, so you can feel a little bit more confident treating your stressed-out skin knowing it won’t further irritate it.

And a top tip? If I’m ever applying a targeted spot treatment, I like to use them in my evening skincare routine to make the most of the skin’s natural repairing process, which takes place as you rest.

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2. The Mattifying Toner For Oily Complexions

Stress and oiliness: Dermalogica Clear Start Micro-Pore Mist Spray
The skin naturally sees a lot of changes during our teen years, particularly the overproduction of oil, and subsequent breakouts or acne. And sadly, it’s been an undeniably tough year for lots of teenagers and young people, and that’s on top of the usual pressures of exams and results that may impact their skin. That’s why I have a lot of respect for Dermalogica’s Clear Start range; it’s been specially designed for teenage skin and all of its needs. I wish I knew about it when I was a teen!

One of my favourites from the range has to be their Micro-Pore Mist Spray; it’s perfect for anyone who wants to target excess oiliness without having to spend loads of time and effort on their current skincare routine. Made for oily complexions, the toner is packed with niacinamide, an anti-blemish must-have that helps to reduce the appearance of pores and targets post-breakout marks, so you don’t have to worry about their long-term impact. Dermalogica’s vegan toner mist also centres around an innovative wild rose hip flavonoid complex to reduce shine and minimise the look of pores from the first use.

Another reason why I love this face mist is that it’s a fun but instant pick-me-up for your skin, which you can use throughout the day. It instantly refreshes and perks up your complexion as cucumber extract cools and revitalises your skin.

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3. The Purifying Face Mask For Acne-Prone Skin

Does stress cause skin spots? Uriage Hyseac Purifying Peel-Off Mask
As stress has been shown to exacerbate existing acne, building a specific skincare routine to target this – as opposed to simply popping in a spot treatment – is important for anyone with acne.

Although tackling blemishes can sometimes feel like a bit of a chore, I think it’s always important to enjoy your skincare routine and find fun or sensorial formulas that you enjoy using. It’s for this reason that I want to shine a spotlight on Uriage’s Purifying Peel-Off Mask as it’s ideal for anyone who wants to enjoy a pamper session but doesn’t want to fuss with removing it, thanks to its breezy, clear-drying peel-off texture.

Boasting a number of purifying active ingredients, this mask means business; in fact, it offers visible results after just one use, and has a proven efficacy on acne-prone skin. The mask deeply purifies skin using pore-cleansing kaolin and an acid malic derivative, which work together to soak up excess sebum and reduce blemishes. Skin looks smoother and cleaner, thanks to a pore-refining plant extract, while zinc mattifies the complexion for a shine-free finish.

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4. The Daily Moisturiser To Combat Blemishes

Does stress cause acne? Pharmaceris T Comedo Acne Anti-Comedone Cream
If there’s one common misconception when it comes to oily skin, it’s that it doesn’t need moisture. But, like every other skin type, oily complexions crave hydration – and if they don’t get it, they might end up overcompensating by producing even more oil.

That being said, finding a moisturiser with mattifying properties is incredibly important for someone looking to address excess oiliness and subsequent blemishes. Pharmaceris’ T Anti-Comedone Cream is my standout choice for anyone after a daily formula that delivers fast results. Not only does this fast-absorbing, everyday face cream reduce the visibility of blackheads and whiteheads, but it also helps to even out skin tone by brightening post-acne marks. As well as balancing oil production, the moisturiser helps to ease redness using skin-calming niacinamide. But the best thing about this anti-blemish moisturiser? Well, it has to be the stats; not only does it improve skin texture in as little as six hours, but it also reduces the visibility of imperfections and congested pores in just six days.

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Discover More:

What Is Stressed Skin?

How To Treat Stressed Skin On Your Face And Body

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