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Stress can pop up at any time and for many reasons, and events of recent years put most of us to
the test. So, it’s not surprising that now more than ever, people are worrying about stress acne
and wondering if it’s really a concern. Acne is the most common skin condition in the United
States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually. The real question: Can you get acne from
stress? The answer is yes, stress and acne go hand-in-hand.
Even if you don’t usually break out, stressful situations or events can spark stress acne. Those
who are genetically predisposed are more likely to experience a breakout when they’re stressed
out. Why does this happen, and what can you do about it? The answers lie ahead
Many of us have experienced a breakout when we’re stressed out. But why do pimples develop when
we’re under pressure? Why does stress cause acne? The answer is simple. Stress hormones (like
cortisol) increase oil production and overall inflammation, which causes acne flare-ups. With
that in mind, it’s vital to improve your overall mental well-being so you can prevent stress
Breakouts show up on our faces in different places for different reasons. For example, women
experiencing hormonal issues are likely to have acne on their jawline. However, stress-related
acne typically pops up on your forehead, nose, and chin — just like when you were a teenager —
because these are the oiliest parts of your face. Stress pimples can be a combination of
blackheads, whiteheads, red bumps, and pus-filled pimples. One way to tell you have acne that’s
stress induced is if a batch of pimples appears all at once, whereas hormonal acne typically
Are you wondering how to reduce stress acne or how to prevent them in the first place? The most
straightforward answer is to control your stress levels and adjust your lifestyle as best you
can. Here are some places to start.
Being mindful of your actions and feelings can help you control your stress levels. If you’re new
to the practice of mindfulness, here are some ways you can incorporate it into your lifestyle:
Getting the right amount of sleep is vital if you want to reduce stress-related breakouts. Sleep
deprivation has been known to contribute to hormonal imbalances that trigger oil production and
lead to breakouts. Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally while you sleep and is also
associated with stimulating your immune system and protecting against bacterial infections,
which helps fight acne.
Need a little assistance powering down or staying asleep? Evening rituals, like a warm bath,
herbal tea, or relaxation before bedtime, encourage a good night’s rest. Once you are in bed,
make sure you’re sleeping on clean sheets and pillowcases (this is one of the places where dead
skin cells, bacteria, and oil can collect and then re-clog your pores).
A clear skin diet should exclude foods high on the glycemic index — things like white pasta,
rice, bread, and sweets — because they spike sugar, which can also increase oil-producing
hormones. The best diet for healthy skin includes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which
studies have shown reduce inflammation and help with mood regulation (among other benefits). So
make sure to add omega-3-rich foods like salmon, avocado, flaxseed oil, and walnuts to your
If you’re experiencing stress acne, you may have to tweak your skincare routine a bit —
especially if you’re not used to getting breakouts. For example, swap your cleanser out for a
formula with an acne-fighting ingredient like salicylic acid. Use a spot treatment that
incorporates bacteria busting benzoyl peroxide. But whatever you do, don’t ditch your
moisturizer just because you’re experiencing more oil. The trick is to use a lighter formula
that keeps your skin balanced, not greasy. Stripping the skin of its natural oils will only
cause it to produce even more sebum, which can exacerbate breakouts.
All of our multi-step skincare routines harness the power of the best over-the-counter
acne-fighting ingredients you can find. When it comes to salicylic acid, why not give our
Proactiv + Complete Kit or Blackhead Dissolving Gel a try? For more stubborn stress acne,
ProactivMD Adapalene Gel — the first over-the-counter retinoid approved by the FDA — prevents
and treats stubborn breakouts while reducing the redness and inflammation associated with acne.
While only you can control your stress levels, we can help you manage the breakouts that come
along for the ride.
Hormones and Acne
Diet and Acne
Environment and Acne