Here's exactly how cortisol affects your skin


If you clicked on this article, there is a chance that you are stressed – even if it's only a little.

And you're not alone.

It may be your job, it may be your family, or it may be something unique and personal to you.

But whatever it is, I fully understand!

Unfortunately, your skin does not.

If you have read my blog Before you know that stress releases a hormone called cortisol, which causes chaos on your skin.

But why? Today we get into all the dirty details about why stress causes skin problems – plus, how to relieve stress and save the skin!

What is Cortisol?

Many of us have heard of cortisol, but many of us do not know what it really is.

Cortisol is a hormone that can be classified as a "steroid hormone" or a glucocorticoid.

Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands (those above your kidneys) and released into the blood, which means it is transported throughout the body.

Almost all of your body's cells have receptors that can absorb cortisol. Therefore, cortisol can have such a great effect on us.

Some of the areas that cortisol may affect are your blood glucose levels, your metabolism, your water balance, your memory, your blood pressure and more!

For most of us, cortisol production is highest when we wake up in the morning so that its release is linked to when we are most active (if you have a wonky schedule, your body will likely sync your cortisol production to when you make the most of it your activity).

Your body also releases extra cortisol when you are stressed to help your body react, which is where we can encounter any problems.

Continue reading to discover how this stress-induced cortisol production affects you and your skin!

How does cortisol affect your body (and your skin)?

Now that we all know what exactly cortisol is and where it comes from, it's time to dive into how it affects our bodies and our skin!

Cortisol is good for you when it is regulated.

That's why your body produces it!

Unfortunately, the body sometimes produces too much cortisol.

This may be due to stress, some medications or other hormonal problems.

If your body produces too much cortisol consistently, you can develop a condition known as Cushing's syndrome.

While Cushing's syndrome is very rare, high cortisol levels may cause you to experience many of the same symptoms.

But do not be confused – cortisol is not bad!

We only need that with moderation.

In fact, too little cortisol can lead to a disease called Addison's disease.

However, too little cortisol is rare and is generally seen only in those with hormonal disorders.

Overproduction of cortisol is more common.

In the case of your skin, overproduction of cortisol for a long time may also cause difficult problems, even if you do not have Cushing's syndrome.

If we are constantly stressed, we are more likely to face these problems.

The main negative effect of too much cortisol on the skin is acne.

The reason for this is that high cortisol levels cause our skin's sebaceous glands to produce more sebum (otherwise known as oil).

So many know now, too much oil production in our skin can clog our pores and lead to pimples.

Other ways cortisol appears on our skin is through signs of aging.

Increased cortisol production may accelerate aging, leading to appearance of lines, wrinkles and age spots.

Finally, if you have skin conditions like rosacea or psoriasis, you may experience blowouts when you have high cortisol production (although you have probably already thought that stress causes flare ups).

How to fight the effects of cortisol

Like many of our skin care, the effects of cortisol are best attacked from the root cause.

Instead of adding a current solution to breakouts, we should work to attack what causes breakouts.

And if you suspect that your outbreaks are caused by excess cortisol production, it means you need to reduce your stress level to remedy your acne.

Of course, this is much, much easier said than done-trust me, I know firsthand!

That's what I'm leaving you with lots of suggestions for trying to unload.

Some may work for you, some may not, and some may make you scratch your head and think, "Will it really work?"

But before we get into stress, here are some other ways that you can of course lower your cortisol levels:

Get more sleep

Time, length and quality of sleep affect all of your cortisol levels.

Even if you do not think it is possible to sleep for several hours, it may be possible to sleep better!

A simple trick is to eliminate screen before the bed (and use absolutely no screens when the lights are out – it stops your eyes).

I like putting my phone in flight mode to ensure that no late vibration will disturb me from my slumber.

Training during the day has also been shown to help you sleep better.

As a bonus, exercise will also help improve your mood and reduce stress on your own by increasing your endorphins.

Eat less sugar (and drink more water)

We know too much sugar is bad and too much water is good, but they both can directly affect your cortisol levels.

Dehydration and high sugar intake can both lead to increased cortisol levels.

And just like stress, if you consistently eat suckily or do not drink enough water, your cortisol levels will be elevated as their "new normal".

Double-check your go-to-snacks so they do not pack a sugar punch.

Unfortunately, lots of on-the-go snacks are being loaded as protein bars with sugar. I like to pop a banana and a bag of almond in my bag instead!

As a bonus, increased fruit intake has been linked to lower cortisol levels!

Try supplementing with fish oil or ashwagandha

Both fish oil and ashwagandha have proven to lower the cortisol level, so you might want to consider adding one to your daily routine.

probiotics have also has been shown To reduce cortisol levels, so if you do not usually get probiotics in your diet (through yogurt or even Kefir), you may want to try it out in supplement.

Of course, you should always discuss any supplements with your doctor, but all three have more benefits than just lowering your cortisol levels, which I consider to be a profit!

Way to de-stress

As I mentioned earlier, there are lots of ways to relax – the list is not exhaustive.

Some may do wonders for you, some may not!

These are just a few things that have worked for me, my friends and dear, and other women I've met through the online beauty community!

  1. Talking to a loved one

It sounds so simple, but when we are stressed, we are usually busy and maybe we even tend to shut ourselves off for others.

It can be revolutionary how much our mood can change from having a good conversation (or even a good laugh) with a friend, husband, family member or even a licensed therapist.

You do not necessarily have to ventilate what points to you (sometimes I've found this makes me more stressed), but just talking about what's going to think can help clear your palette – and with palette I mean your overworked brain!

  1. Meditation (and / or Mindfulness)

The chance is that someone has suggested meditation when you mentioned that you are stressed.

You may have rolled your eyes and thought, "As if I have time to meditate when I have 100 other things on my plate."

I get the first impression, but I urge you to try meditation!

You do not have to go to a class or spend any money.

Many meditations, for example Headspace, offer a free trial and have 10 minute audio recordings that you can do anywhere – from your bedroom to a busy subway car.

Something even easier that works for me when I'm super stressed or anxious, just closing my eyes and taking three big deep breaths.

It sounds so stupid, but sometimes we are so overwhelmed that we forgot to take a second and breathe.

Taking a deep breath can also cool your central nervous system, which hopefully will signal to your body that you do not need the extra cortisol after all!

  1. Start a gratitude magazine

Another thing I swear by? Gratitude Newspapers.

Sometimes we are so busy to stress or complain about today's stressors that we forget to be grateful for all the amazing things (and people) we have in our lives.

The idea behind a gratitude record is to help you realize how many blessings you have in your life and to encourage a positive mentality instead of leaving your brain to live on the negative.

You can use a regular notebook or app as Gratitude. I also love the plans from Transient waves who is part-planner, part-gratitude journal.

If you try to start a journal and you stick to what you're grateful for – keep it simple.

It does not need to land a great job interview or receive a wonderful gift – it may be something teeny-small that makes you happy. For example, "I'm grateful that the color pink exists" or "I'm grateful for the cranberry scones."

  1. Self care

Chances have you heard everything about self-care Now, but have you wondered what it means to you?

Many of the medical care we look at social media mean to spoil you with a pedicure, face mask or vacation, but it's just an iteration of self-care and maybe not what works for you.

Self-care does not need to involve money; it can simply mean waking up earlier to have "me time" before your children have to go to school.

It may also mean that you have time to work more physical activity in your life – which in turn also helps to fight stress on your own because of endorphins!

It may also mean that you say no to the things you do not want to deal with, which leads me to my next (and last) suggestion to stress yourself.

  1. Worth your time (and learn to say no!)

Many of us are stressed because we have too much on our plate, and for the most part, not all things on our plate are something we like.

Of course, some things are necessary for our lifestyle, but take a moment to rethink if all you need is something you need (or want) to do.

Imagine if someone else can handle this task.

For example, let's say your weekly food trips span you and get in the way of the Pilates classes you want to try.

Some options can order your food via Amazon, Peapod or any other food delivery service.

You can also try to add some foods to visit the shop less often. If you live with your partner, you can ask if they would be willing to change daily food every week.

It is more expensive to get delivered foods more expensive, but the time is really money (especially when you feel you do not have time).

There are some points in your life where it's important to decide what's worth spending a little extra on.

Once you've emptied your schedule of things you do not really like to do, you'll have more time to do things you like!

Stress Busters

These are the products that I personally use when I feel the need for a little R & R!

The Cottage Greenhouse Rosemary Mint Ceramic Candle

Alana Mitchell Beautifull Roller – Rose Quartz

Rhonda Allison Milk Mask

Bioelements Radiance Rescue Eye Mask

Lollia Relax Bubble Bath

Final thoughts

No matter what type of lifestyle you live, stress is inevitable.

But if we take a step back and look at what we can control, stress becomes very manageable and life becomes more fun!

And of course, as an added benefit, our skin thrives!

Less stress, fewer breakouts and slower signs of aging? Write me up!

What have you had with stress and skin? Do you have any other ways you like to stress? I would like to hear it in the comments below!

Last updated by Alana on .