The Effects of Stress and Anxiety on the Skin

Anxiety is known to trigger production of the stress hormone cortisol. This changes your skin pores and increases skin oil production. Pores become clogged by the oil, bacteria festers and acne begins to form. The stress-related hormone called CRH, or corticotrophin-releasing hormone, is another culprit known to cause acne.

Walk-in Dermatology

I’ve had a crazy skincare journey the past year. Due to academics, I didn’t have much time to talk about it on my Instagram as I normally would, but now that I have finally completed my journalism degree, I am back on the gram. (@wordsbymul).

Instead of me talking about what high levels of stress and anxiety can do to your skin. Why don’t I show you:

17th January, 2021

I found it easy to take care of my skin during the lockdown, definitely a skincare addict. Though I experienced anxiety, I had low levels of stress.

11th February, 2021

I don’t even know what to say…I just had a peppermint tea and felt good (lol!)

29th March, 2021

At this point, my stress levels were low, though I still experienced anxiety, I was okay and ate well.

12th April, 2021

A day after I moved back to university, my skin was still healthy; it had only been a day after all. I brought ALL my skincare with me and took care of myself well.

22nd May, 2021

Mild breakouts began to occur during this month. The stress levels I experienced started to grow, and it began to show, my diet also started to shift.

I experienced such high levels of stress, and I started to have acne breakouts, breakouts I hadn’t had since before I began my skincare journey. It’s insane how much your skin can change in such a short time. Stress and anxiety affect your skin.

8th June, 2021

15th JULY 2021

4th august, 2021

16th September, 2021


The skin may look different depending on the lighting and time of day. These pictures are a timeline of how my skin shifted in 8 months; the cause? Stress and Anxiety. I’ll always be a mental health advocate because I believe whatever you may be going through mentally affects you physically. Though the main focus is the face, flare-ups show up on the body too.

If you notice someone’s skin has changed, do not give your unsolicited advice; no, they do not need to drink more water; they have plenty. That spot right in the middle of their face? They are aware, and saying ”stop stressing and relax” doesn’t change anything; in fact, it’s aggravating. You don’t know what they may be going through; unless asked, do not say anything.

You never know what someone is going through. Insecurities creep in when it comes to skin; after all, your face/body is the first thing people notice. Seeing someone overly covered up could be for the same reasons too. It could be that they don’t feel comfortable showing their skin and maybe too anxious about it.

It’s October now. I only just started taking care of my skin again from mid to late September, just under two weeks ago. Anxiety and stress levels are almost nonexistent because I took time away to take care of my mental well-being after completing my degree. Skincare is supposed to be a fun journey, not a destination. Take care of your mental well-being first, and everything will gradually fall into place.

You are more than your anxiety or any other mental disorder. You will prevail, your skin will get to where you want it to be over time, and as my favourite skincare YouTuber says:

”Skincare is all about progression over perfection because perfection doesn’t exist.”

James Welsh

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