Stress is something we all experience at times (especially right now). Stress doesn't just affect our minds, it affects our bodies and that, of course, includes our skin. It's important to address stress as part of your overall strategy to stay healthy as well as your skin care strategy.
How Does Stress Affect Your Skin?
It all boils down to a hormone called "cortisol." Your body produces extra cortisol to fuel the "fight or flight" response when you are in danger. (In normal times, cortisol is involved in your sleep/wake cycle, blood pressure, and metabolism). When you sense danger, cortisol levels spike. This shuts down functions that get in the way, such as your digestive system, and puts all of your energy into dealing with the crisis.
The problem is when the crisis doesn't go away. Stress is essentially when our alarm system doesn't shut back off because we have a constant sense of being in danger; whether that danger is a boss who is constantly threatening to fire you, not having enough money, or fear of infectious disease. Stress leads to health problems that include insomnia, weight gain, memory problems, headaches, anxiety, and depression.
And, yes, it can start affecting your skin. One of the things elevated cortisol does is tell glands in your skin to make more oil. This leads to breakouts and acne. If you already have a skin problem, cortisol can make it worse. It can also make your skin thinner and cause your face to flush.
Then, there's the fact that if you're stressed out, you're much more likely to forget or not have time for parts of your normal skin care routine. You may also develop cravings for sugary or fatty food, resulting in stress eating and a less healthy diet that also isn't good for your skin. Lack of sleep also affects your skin's ability to renew itself overnight, and can contribute to those stress-related breakouts.
So, stress is really bad for your skin...as well as everything else.