Ever wonder why you break out right at the times you want your beauty game to be on point? E.g., the day before a friend’s wedding? A job interview? A reunion? A much-anticipated date? No, the gods aren’t toying with you. It’s quite a bit simpler than that.

Enter your body’s reaction to stress. Your body treats worrisome events as threats to your body—which results in a release of cortisol—AKA the stress hormone—throughout your system.

Cortisol in your bloodstream helps your body respond to danger by increasing brain function and the availability of certain substances your body might need in order to repair itself. All good things! But—when the body overproduces cortisol, there’s a downside. Namely, acne.

This is because your skin cells that produce sebum also have receptors that are connected to your stress response. When your body is in cortisol production overdrive, your sebum factories get a workout, too.

And we all know what happens when our skin overproduces oil…. But in case we need a reminder: An excess of oil leads to hair follicles that are more easily clogged, which creates an environment conducive to acne bacteria. Ugh.

So there you have it. That’s how stress and acne are connected. Solutions, anyone? There are two ways to tackle the stress + acne problem.

Method 1: Reduce your cortisol levels.

This can mean different things to different people. Perhaps there’s no way to avoid attending that event that’s causing a hike in your cortisol (stress). But there are natural ways to lower cortisol in your body. The first is sleep. Lack of sleep causes a spike in cortisol. So catch up on sleep in order to bring cortisol down to a normal level. 

Another all-natural option: When your thoughts are running on a loop of negativity and worry, that is a huge cue to your body that it needs to release cortisol. So a major way for you to curb cortisol release is through putting a lid on those types of thoughts.

Of course, shutting down that part of our brain that wants to obsess is easier said than done. But it is possible. Mindfulness, gratitude, and meditation are all practices and habits that you can begin to incorporate that will help to soothe a troubled mind.

Method 2: Deal with the fallout: Acne.

Your skincare routine during an acne outbreak should include a cleanser with salicylic acid or glycolic acid that will help remove dead skin cells and other follicle clogging gunk that bacteria so enjoys hanging out with. This cleanserfrom Cosrx is a much-loved favorite for getting the job done.

This same skincare brand also created the Acne Pimple Master Patchas a way to target bacteria and infection overnight. The clear patch sticks to the skin even while you sleep and will have your skin clear by that important event you have lined up the next day.

Once your skin is clear of the acne blemish, you will want to use a skincare product that provides your skin with what it needs for skin repair and rejuvenation. Mizon’s AHA 8% Peeling Serumhelps brighten dark spots. And their All In One Snail Repair Creamis a fan favorite for improving the appearance of acne-related blemishes.

So there you have it! Two methods for dealing with stress-related breakouts. To summarize, start with a self-care plan that boosts your sleep and keeps those worrisome thoughts in check. And then, when needed, follow up with these beauty products to handle that errant acne that got past your defenses.

Emma Jean

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