8 Ways Stress Reflects on Your Skin and How To Calm It

We’ve all heard, at one point or another, that beauty starts from within. And for good reason: Your skin is your body’s largest organ. External issues can be a telltale sign of the wars waged within.

Ever wonder why your skincare didn’t work as well? Maybe the problem is deeper within. Most probably one of the suspects that is driving our skin haywire is hormonal imbalance derived from constant stress. The increased jump in cortisol can jumble up the messages your nerves decide to send, causing anything from an outbreak of hives to fine lines. , and hormonal stress changes your skin. But more importantly, we also tell you what you can do about it.

  1. Sun stress and exhausted skin defenses

Even before looking internally, there’s one beaming factor that can physically stress out your skin and weaken its defenses: ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Whether in the form of natural sunlight or in artificial like tanning beds, ultraviolet rays can signal blood cells to rush to the exposed area in an attempt to repair it. This manifests into sunburns, darkened blemishes, moles, and even skin cancer.

The best way to combat UV rays is by applying sunscreen every morning. You may also want to layer on natural oils that hold some sun protection. According to a cell study, olive, coconut, peppermint, tulsi, and lemon grass have the highest SPF value. Opt for products that are 100% natural like and Naturel Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil to get only the most natural and unrefined form of the oils. While they can’t replace sunscreen, it can be helpful for people who have a hard time finding sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white cast. Similarly, fruits high in antioxidants and vitamin C (like strawberries and pomegranates) possess the ability to protect your cells from the free radical damage caused by sun exposure.

  1. Inflammation and extra-irritated skin

Hives, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, rosacea are often a result of inflammation, but studies also show that when your brain is on overdrive makes it harder for your skin to regulate and stay balanced. It’s important to note the difference before treating the conditions — including whether or not your irritation is a result of stress, allergies, or a bad product. Finding out the exact reason behind your stress might be difficult or impossible, but there are still ways to tame the fires with food, exercise, or therapy.

  1. Increased oil production and acne

It’s no surprise science has found that kind of stress to be highly associated with acne, especially for women — and stress can mix up our skin’s nerve signals, causing imbalanced hormones and chemicals that increase oil production.

While it’s nearly impossible to remove stress from the equation entirely, there are ways to combat it. Keep 5- and 10-minute stress relief tricks handy and try longer stress management techniques, like exercise, to increase your body’s abilities to adapt.

  1. Waxy scalp, hair loss, and peeling nails

Before you assume that your waxy scalp, hair loss, and peeling nails is because of stress, you might want to check in with a dermatologist and doctor to rule out other potential. In the time being, avoid extremely hot showers to prevent further damaging your skin and scalp. Bring more consistency to your day by aiming to exercise regularly and eating a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables.

  1. Thinner, more sensitive skin

In cases of abnormally high cortisol levels, the skin might get thinner. Cortisol results in the breakdown of dermal proteins, which can cause the skin to appear almost paper-thin, as well as bruising and tearing easily. In most cases, medication can be prescribed for the management of cortisol levels.

  1. Delayed natural wound healing

In the face of severe stress, your epidermis can quickly become weakened, increasing your risk for infections and environmental pathogens. This also slows down your skin’s natural ability to heal wounds, scars, and acne. Consume antioxidant-rich food for similar effect and strengthened internal healing. Focus on using products based in zinc, sal (Shorea robusta), and flaxseed oil. These ingredients are shown to your keep your skin moisturized and provide a packed healing punch for wound healing.

  1. Exhausted eyes and orbital skin

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a comment regarding the undeniable dark circles around your eyes, then you know just how much sleep deprivation and stress reveals itself physically. In activated fight-or-flight mode, our bodies keep adrenaline running on a constant cycle, including during those precious, much-needed hours late at night.

If you’re already trying meditation and yoga for sleep, ramp up your bedtime routine with essential oil diffusers, white noise machines, or the most easier-said-than-done practice out there — avoiding screens altogether in the two-hour time span before sleep.

  1. Fine lines and wrinkles

Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves and some wear them all over their face. Smile lines, eye creases appear after repeated facial movement. So, what’s one to do about it? Well, face yoga. By targeting the facial muscles we subconsciously use every day, facial exercises can counteract developing wrinkles and leave skin flexible and resilient. For additional assistance, applying facial pressure with a chilled jade roller activates the lymphatic system, which can also reduce puffiness and the appearance of stress damage on the skin.

Stop the stress cycle

Stress does not manifest the same in every person, but every person ultimately does experience it to some extent. Instead of comparing stress levels with others to gauge whether or not your stress is “all that bad,” choose to care for yourself when you need it. Remembering to care for ourselves, and for our skin, is one of the small ways in which we can slowly but surely reclaim control — and these coping mechanisms for stress are a good place to start!

The original version of this article first appeared on healthline.com.