Because I’M breaking out like crazy from all this stress and here’s what to do about it…
Considering that up to 40% of women already suffer from adult acne I can’t even imagine what that number is now, with all the Coronavirus-induced acne! I took a poll on my Instagram Stories asking if anyone was breaking out as much I’ve been (really since the first day of #SaferAtHome), and a whopping 89% of my followers who voted said they HAVE been having a lot of skin issues. There’s no debate here…stress and anxiety can cause acne breakouts.
I talked to my cosmetic dermatologist here in LA, Dr. Jessica Wu, and asked her for some info on tips on how to beat stress-induced breakouts. According to Wu, when we experience physical and/or emotional stress (like, oh, maybe an international pandemic?) our bodies release stress hormones. These stress hormones, aside from causing acne, “can trigger inflammation and lead to flare-ups of psoriasis, eczema, and autoimmune skin conditions. Stress can also cause itchy dry skin, which we’re already vulnerable to, due to (more) hand washing and using sanitizing wipes!”
Here are our best tips to beat breakouts during this rough time…
Other acne-related posts you might like:
- 7 things you probably don’t know about adult acne
- 4 acne products that actually work
- 9 mistakes you’re (probably) making when you wash your face
How to get rid of stress-induced acne
Avoid picking and squeezing.
“I know it’s hard to resist, but stressed skin heals more slowly,” explains Wu. “So it’s more important than ever to avoid picking and squeezing, which can lead to scarring. Plus, we should avoid touching our faces anyway!”
Use a product with sulfur and niacinamide (ideally).
Wu suggests using acne products that contain sulfur (one of my favorites as well!). “Stress hormones increase sebum (facial oil) production, but skin can also be more sensitive, so I suggest sulfur-based treatments since they are less likely to dry you out and irritate (compared to benzoyl peroxide).” Dr. Wu recommends Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask, “which has 10% sulfur to soak up oil and kill bacteria, along with niacinamide, a type of vitamin B that calms inflammation.”
On another note I am ALL ABOUT niacinamide lately. It really is calming and does an amazing job of repairing damaged DNA, and fighting off external skin stressors that can lead to wrinkles and other signs of premature aging. Plus, again, we love that you can mix it with all your other skincare products and not worry about any irritation since it’s great for sensitive skin! My latest niacinamide favorite (sans sulfur) is Naturium Niacinamide Serum 12% Plus Zinc 2% – this serum combines a high concentration of niacinamide with zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid, to purify and refine the complexion and it’s really, really good.
More sulfur product favorites
Don’t use acne products made for teens.
“We’re not as oily as adults so don’t go for those super drying brands that worked for you as a teen,” explains Dr. Annie Chiu, an Orange County, CA based dermatologist I interviewed a few years ago.
Don’t be afraid to use concealer to cover breakouts.
Most makeup won’t give you acne or make your current acne worse, unless you’re an actor or someone who wears heavy, layered makeup for most of the day. Side note, a lot of hi-definition makeup also contains talc, which is great for the camera but terrible for acne!
The It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout Concealer actually has sulfur in the formula (mentioned above)! I’m also really loving the new Shiseido Synchro Skin Self Refreshing Concealer – this one is great once the breakouts start to heal and you just need to cover up the dark spot.
Don’t over-wash your face.
Should you wash your face more often or with harsh scrubs? NO WAY. According to Chiu, unless you’re an athlete, you don’t wash more than two times a day. Don’t over-strip your skin or you’ll end up producing more oil and, in turn, you could breakout more.
Find a good moisturizer.
One of the biggest acne myths is that you should be using oil-free moisturizers only. Personally, when I had cystic acne back in the day, I found that using a really simple, hydrating moisturizer with good quality ingredients worked best.
Photo by Azusa Takano