Stress And Skin

The skin often reveals underlying stress. In modern life, stress certainly comes in many forms. Lack of sleep is another symptom of stress and adds to the toll of stress on the skin.   

As stress increases, mechanisms of “fight, flight or freeze” kick in. If these continue to recur, without discharge from physical exertion or stress reduction techniques, the body pays a price. Skin certainly also responds to the chemical messages released by the body during difficult times. 

Common skin symptoms of stress include an increase in breakouts and skin sensitivity. All skin symptoms tend to worsen during stressful times, whether or not they are associated with a disease diagnosis. Those with the common skin conditions of acne, rosacea or actinic dermatitis will experience increased symptoms. The American Rosacea Society lists stress as a prime cause of symptom flares in those with rosacea. 

Skin is not only the largest organ in the body but is responsible for several critical functions – including barrier protection, immunity, and temperature and water regulation. Performance of these roles is impaired by stress. Skin also influences the portrayal of beauty, health, cleanliness, and age. 

The most fragile areas are the first to show difficulties. These first appears as dark circles and baggy hollows under the eyes. Fatigue shows in the facial musculature of expression. Immunity declines and the skin barrier is less robust. A poor diet and other lifestyle factors are associated with a less resilient personal resistance to stressful events. 

With stress, hormone production shifts and metabolism alters. These changes cause the individual’s skin to appear older than its years. Proper hormone production is essential for well-being and many hormones are adversely affected with stressful events. Melatonin is made in the skin, brain, and GI tract. It is not only important in sleep but also for repair processes, UV resistance, and immunity. Melatonin levels drop with stress as do levels of DHEA, estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. DHEA, made by the adrenal gland, is important in the production of other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. Collagen production, important for healthy skin, is supported by DHEA. Collagenase enzymes and the breakdown of collagen increase as DHEA declines. DHEA also helps with proper sebum production that is required for skin texture, moisturization, and a healthy skin barrier. Estrogen deficiency is associated with thinning of both epidermis and dermis and the appearance of aged, wrinkled skin. Skin deficient in testosterone loses elasticity, dermal thickness, and density. As progesterone declines so do skin elasticity and circulation. Stress increases cortisol and insulin levels and these are linked to increasing cycles of obesity, metabolic derangements, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. The skin, under the influence of excess cortisol, exhibits dullness, thinning, reduced elasticity, lines, wrinkles, and increased sebum production leading to breakouts. 

Choosing excellent topical products and home treatments will assist mightily with stress resistance. Products should always be chosen to include the four (4) steps to healthy skin – CLEANSE, TREAT, HYDRATE, PROTECT. Since iS CLINICAL products are multi-tasking, each will fulfill more than one of these categories. 


It is no accident that a good cleanser is the first step to healthy skin, although its importance is often underestimated. For normal, oily, or blemish-prone skin, CLEANSING COMPLEX is the best choice. For dry or very sensitive skin, CREAM CLEANSER gives more support to an impaired skin barrier.


Stressed skin may or may not be visibly inflamed but this inflammation is certainly seen on the microscopic level. PRO-HEAL SERUM ADVANCE+ is a hero product for rosacea, other causes of inflammation, and the unseen inflammation related to aging, i.e. “inflammaging”. REPARATIVE MOISTURE EMULSION contains no exfoliating ingredients and is fully regenerative. This antioxidant-rich, repairing, hydrating product is ideal for stressed-out skin. The eye areas will benefit from C EYE SERUM ADVANCE+, YOUTH EYE COMPLEX, and YOUTH EYE SERUM. A multi-tasking hero product for blemish-prone skin, aging, and hyperpigmentation is ACTIVE SERUM. Non-sensitive skin with impaired metabolism and aging skin benefits from POLY-VITAMIN SERUM, containing Vitamins B3 and B5 as well as hyaluronic acid. 


HYDRA-COOL SERUM is like a drink of water for the skin and is never oily or pore-clogging. Several of the products mentioned above as TREAT products are also excellent hydrators. SHEALD RECOVERY BALM hydrates and treats by supporting the skin barrier with bio-identical ceramides and collagen stimulators. COPPER FIRMING MIST hydrates, encourages collagen synthesis, and normalizes sebum production. 


All skin should receive the benefit of an excellent sunscreen. EXTREME PROTECT SPF 30 is a broad-spectrum sunscreen with additional antioxidants, moisturizers, and DNA protectants. ECLIPSE SPF 50+ is a physical broad-spectrum sunscreen with additional antioxidant protection. 

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