How To Stop Stress From Affecting Your Skin


The problem: “The primary aggravating factor leading to adult acne is chronic stress,” says Emma Hobson, education manager at The International Dermal Institute. While periods of intensity can cause occasional breakouts, it’s continual stress that alters our hormone levels and causes an increase in oil production, she explains.

The solution: "The key to controlling your breakouts is maintaining clean skin,” advises Hobson. To keep spots at bay, she recommends double cleansing in the morning and evening and using products that contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or zinc to help prevent and reduce inflammation. If shine is a concern, consider a weekly clay-based mask or a mattifying toner to absorb any excess oil. It’s also a good idea to invest in a spot treatment to dry out the affected area. And although your skin may seem oily, moisturising is still a crucial step – but stay away from oil-based formulas and opt for non-comedogenic options, instead.

The Buys: Olay Shine Control Lathering Cleanser, $13.99; Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream, $34; Chanel Précision Fresh Mattifying Toner, $75; Dr. LeWinn’s Puressence Purifying Masque, $34.95; Ultraceuticals Ultra Clear Treatment Lotion, $79; Galderma Benzac AC Water Based Acne Gel, $16.


The problem: During times of extreme pressure, your body redirects energy from jobs that it considers non-essential. Unfortunately for your lacklustre complexion, that includes cell turnover. And when dead skin cells don’t shed regularly, your base can appear sallow and flat.

The solution: Radiant skin is all about healthy cell turnover, so exfoliation is key. Choose between a scrub or chemical formulas (they usually contain salicylic or lactic acid) to help get your glow back. But be cautious of overdoing it, as this can lead to irritation – two to three times a week should be sufficient. Follow with a hydrating serum or mask designed specifically to even out your skin tone and rejuvenate a tired base. Finish with a brightening moisturiser to help seal in the benefits and create a dewy, luminescent finish.

The Buys: Aveeno Positively Radiant Cleanser, $13.99; Giorgio Armani Luminessence Bright Regenerator Concentrate, $165; SK-II Skin Rebooster, $130; Elizabeth Arden Intervene Radiance Boosting Moisture Cream SPF 15, $90; Clean & Clear Morning Burst Skin Brightening Facial Scrub, $10.99.

Your great skin toolkit.


The problem: Stress has also been proven to compromise the natural layer that seals moisture into our skin. “To keep this barrier healthy, it needs to turn over in a cohesive and organised manner,” says Dr Greg Goodman, of the Dermatology Institute of Victoria. When this barrier is damaged, it leads to dehydration and possibly more serious issues, such as eczema or psoriasis.

The solution: When it comes to putting moisture back into your skin, begin by repairing your barrier function. Try lotions containing hydrators, like hyaluronic acid or evening primrose oil, to protect against moisture loss. After a quick fix for dehydration and relaxation remedy in one? Treat yourself to a mini facial at home by applying a nutrient-rich mask after a shower or bath. Tabitha McIntosh, naturopath and clinical nutritionist from Awaken Your Health*, also stresses the value of a daily fish oil supplement and a diet rich in essential fatty acids.

The Buys: Ego QV Intensive Moisturising Cleanser, $15.99; Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Masque, $61.50; Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, $118.15; Nivea Visage Daily Essentials Rich Moisturising Day Cream, $12.99.


The problem: “The effect of stress on our skin makes it more susceptible to further irritation, redness and sensitivity,” explains Dr Tom Mammone, executive director of Skin Physiology and Pharmacology for Clinique. It can play havoc on our skin’s immune system, and just as we are prone to catching a cold when we’re run down, so, too, is our complexion more vulnerable to redness when we’re anxious. That’s why chronic conditions like rosacea are more likely to flare up when you’re under pressure, he says.

The solution: A simple skincare approach is best. Choose products formulated with anti-inflammatories, such as cucumber, oatmeal or vitamin E, designed especially for fragile skin. Limit your daily routine to just a calming cream cleanser, redness-reducing serum and a gentle moisturiser, and stay clear of products containing artificial fragrance or alcohol. It’s also a good idea to keep a soothing spray handy to reduce redness while you’re on the go. And when it comes to your diet, McIntosh suggests strengthening and shielding your complexion with anti-oxidant-rich foods, like red berries and green tea, and to avoid caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars wherever possible.

The Buys: Clinique Redness Solutions Soothing Cleanser, $38; Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture Sensitive Skin, $13.99; Avène Soothing Moisture Mask, $38.95; Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist, $39; Aspect Red-Less 21, $96.80.


The problem: Fine lines and wrinkles are caused by a combination of environmental assaults (including sunlight, smoking and pollution) and internal aggravators. Dr Mammone notes that internal factors are psychological stressors that hinder the skin’s ability to repair itself. “Our lifestyle has a significant impact on how quickly we may age [and] there’s a distinct biological pathway where mental stress contributes to visible ageing,” he says.

The solution: Your time-fighting toolkit should contain an antioxidant-rich cleanser and exfoliant, a collagen-stimulating serum, and a mask to boost firmness. Always consider moisturising options that contain broad-spectrum protection and choose an active night cream to assist with repairing the day’s damage while you sleep. Key ingredients to keep in mind are hyaluronic acid and vitamins A and C.

The Buys: Trilogy Age Proof Active Enzyme Cleansing Cream, $39.95; Elixia Crystal Derm-Exfoliator, $69.95; L’Oréal Paris Revitalift 10 Total Repair SPF 15, $35.95; La Prairie Cellular Hydralift Firming Mask, $220; Avon Anew Genics Treatment Concentrate, $79.99.

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