Stress affects us in nearly every way, and our skin doesn’t get a pass. During periods of intense stress, we’re more prone to acne flare-ups. It’s a vicious cycle: you’re stressed because you have acne, and you have acne because you’re stressed. Thankfully, the right de-stressing skin care products can help keep acne at bay, all without adding extra stress to the equation.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Acne flare-ups are more common during periods of high stress, which is why you might get a breakout when you’re facing a big meeting or exam.
  2. Some scientists believe that stress hormones increase the biological activity of oil glands, which leads to oily skin.
  3. One of the simplest ways you can reduce stress-related acne is to develop a skin care routine that soothes the skin, even when you’re under a lot of pressure.
  4. We all can’t take a day off to de-stress, but naturally, the best way to avoid stress acne is to get into a relaxed state of mind.

The Correlation

Stanford University sought to prove that stress causes acne by evaluating students’ acne during exam periods, which correlate with an increased level of stress hormones. The students who reported higher levels of stress experienced more severe acne, suggesting that stress hormones can affect the likelihood of developing acne. The study also accounted for other factors, such as lifestyle changes during demanding exam periods.

A more recent study in Saudi Arabia confirmed the same hypothesis by studying a sample of 144 medical students. They concluded that students with a higher perceived stress score also suffered from more severe acne. So the correlation between stress and acne is pretty clear, but experts aren’t entirely sure of the exact cause. They theorize that increased stress leads to greater sebum production, but there’s no clear answer yet.

What to do About It

Step 1: Take Care of Your Skin

While the jury is still out about what exactly causes stress-related acne, we always recommend following a good men’s skin care routine to help quell the excess oil that may develop in high-stress scenarios. But here’s the thing: finding the right skin care regimen and even getting yourself to follow it every day can actually add to the stress.

That’s why our skin care products are made to be simple, straightforward and stress-free. The Tiege Hanley Acne System is effective for treating stress acne because it’s formulated with ingredients that are great for stressed skin, like salicylic acid, which deeply cleanses pores and prevents blemishes. Salicylic acid is a safe ingredient that is known to quickly reduce the size of acne and blackheads or eliminate them altogether. It’s a must for busting stress acne.

Step 2: Manage Stress with Good Lifestyle Choices

A good skin care routine should always be your first line of defense against acne, but managing chronic stress levels will also have a positive impact on your skin,.

  1. Exercise—Exercise is one of the most effective methods of reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Your body releases endorphins during exercise, which helps give you energy and lift your spirits.
  2. Sleep—As we’ve seen demonstrated in dozens of studies, even slight sleep deprivation can affect your memory, judgment and mood. As a good lifestyle habit, make sure to get enough rest every day. When you are lacking sleep, you’re more likely to see even minor setbacks as major obstacles.
  3. Diet—Healthy eating habits can help you reduce stress. A well-balanced diet should include plenty of nutrients that help you to utilize the calories you ingest and give you the energy to meet your day. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is another way that a good diet helps to avoid stress.

Colorful illustration of different aspects of a healthy lifestyle

As you can see, combatting stress acne is a multilayered task. But we know that you can’t simply opt out of life’s most stressful situations—your boss, kids or coach probably wouldn’t like that—so you have to make small changes to get yourself to a more relaxed state of mind. Starting with an uncomplicated skin care routine is a great strategy.

Man rinsing his face with water over the bathroom sink