The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that nearly all women in the U.S. experience heightened stress during the holidays.
A separate OnePoll survey found that 88 percent of Americans who celebrate the holiday season find it stressful.
Unfortunately, all that stress often shows up just where you don’t want it—on your skin, mostly on your face.
What can you do about it?
How Stress Affects Your Skin
Scientists have discovered an intricate relationship between psychological stress and the onset or aggravation of many skin diseases like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis, as well as skin problems like acne and dryness.
When you’re under stress, your brain stimulates the release of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. These, in turn, can negatively affect the skin, causing increased sweating, immune changes that can lead to inflammation, and reduced blood flow that can cause the skin to react with blemishes and rashes.
The chemicals produced in the body when you’re stressed can also make your skin more sensitive and reactive over time so that you notice more redness, rashes, itching, and even fine lines and wrinkles.
Below are some of the common ways skin may react to ongoing stress:
- Cold sores
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Psoriasis flare-ups
10 Ways to Counteract Stressed-Out Skin
It’s difficult to avoid stress around the holidays, particularly under special circumstances such as those that are likely to exist during a pandemic. Of course, it’s important to try to manage your stress, which we’ll talk about below, but you can also take steps to help your skin cope so it’s less likely to react in negative ways.
1. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
The healthier you are as the holidays approach, the better your body (including your skin) will be able to manage holiday stress. Before, during, and after the holidays, do your best to maintain your healthy habits:
- Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Exercise daily.
- Practice deep breathing exercises throughout the day.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Give yourself a break each day—take a bath, go for a walk, read a good book, etc.
2. Reduce the Impact Stress Has On Your Skin
Yes, there’s going to be stress, so your job is to reduce its impact on your skin. The best approach is to find a stress-relieving activity or two that you can engage in every day. Here are some good options:
- Do yoga or tai chi 2-3 times a week.
- Go for a walk and another walk.
- Engage in a hobby you enjoy.
- Spend time with a pet.
- Knit or crochet.
- Play a musical instrument or paint a picture.
- Go out with your fun-loving friends.
3. Stay Hydrated
It’s easy to get dehydrated during the holidays. You’re less likely to drink water and more likely to drink drying alcoholic drinks. Make a point to drink more water and your skin will thank you. It needs water from the inside out!
4. Stick with Your Regular Skincare Regimen
So much is going on, you may be tempted to skip your regular skincare regimen. This is a horrible idea, as it will set you up for skin problems. Instead, see your skincare time as “me time.” Use it to relax and take good care of yourself, and you’ll be happy you did.
5. Say “No” to Too Much Sugar
It’s easy to overindulge over the holidays, and there’s nothing wrong with that, except that excess sugar could cause your skin to react. Try to control your impulses, eat smaller portions, and choose fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth when possible.
6. Set Some Boundaries
It’s easy to get caught up in all the goings-on during the holidays. Find ways to cut back so you don’t over-obligate yourself. The less you have to do, the less stress you’ll experience.
7. Use the Right Products
Products that are filled with chemicals, preservatives, synthetic fragrances, and sulfates add to the stress your skin is already experiencing. It’s best to use nourishing products all the time, but you need them even more during the holidays.
We recommend our CVSkinlabs product line, which gives you safe, nourishing formulas that will help counteract the effects of stress on your skin. They all contain our Tri-Rescue Complex, a unique blend of turmeric, alpha-bisabolol, and reishi mushroom that reduces inflammation and helps skin heal.
8. Give Your Skin Some Love
In addition to maintaining your regular skincare routine, consider giving your skin some extra love over the holidays. It’s going to be stressed, just like you, so try using a moisturizing mask at night if your skin is dry, or choose a clay mask if your skin is extra oily.
9. Skip the New Products
It’s always fun to try new beauty products, but we recommend against it during the holidays. Your skin is stressed out, which means it may be more reactive to certain ingredients. Products that wouldn’t bother you at other times may cause redness, inflammation, and acne.
Instead, use products you know are safe because of their natural ingredients, or products you have used before that you know work well with your skin.
10. Treat Breakouts Immediately
Those frustrating breakouts are perhaps the biggest challenge many of us face during the holidays. If you’re unlucky enough to find acne forming on your skin, address it as early as possible.
Cleanse with a formula that contains salicylic acid. It’s gentle enough that it works for most skin types, and will help to cut down on acne-causing oil. Try over-the-counter products for emergency on-the-spot treatments, but remember that it’s best to avoid acne products regularly because they can be drying and irritating.
Here are several products around the home that you can use to treat a pimple in an emergency. Simply use a cotton ball to apply the product to the affected area:
- Tea tree oil
- Rosemary or lemongrass oil (both have been found to inhibit the growth of the bacteria that cause acne)
- Green tea—steep a cup of green tea, allow it to cool, then apply to the pimple with a cotton ball or spray bottle
- Apple cider vinegar
How do you limit the effects of holiday stress on your skin?
APA survey shows holiday stress putting women’s health at risk. (2006, December 12). https://www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/women-stress
Chen, Y., & Lyga, J. (2014). Brain-skin connection: Stress, inflammation and skin aging. Inflammation & Allergy-Drug Targets, 13(3), 177-190. https://doi.org/10.2174/1871528113666140522104422
Gervis, Z. (2018, December 6). Holidays stress out 88 percent of Americans, study claims. Fox News. https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/the-holiday-stress-out-88-percent-of-americans-study-claims