Select a treatment to
get started

Are Stress Wrinkles a Real Thing? What Stress Does to Your Skin

Stress wrinkles can also indirectly age your skin by making you want to skip skin-healthy habits like exercise, and sticking to your skincare routine.

Read on

What are stress wrinkles?

When you are chronically stressed either mentally or physically, your body tends to be in fight or flight mode way too often. And, when you are constantly in this high alert state, your body will go into overdrive trying to keep you going with the overproduction of cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. While all of these things are great, and definitely serve a purpose (say, when you feel threatened or are scrambling to meet a deadline), if you are in fight or flight mode too often, these chemicals can wear you down and prevent things that need to happen like relaxing, repairing, and rebuilding. In the skin, this leads to the breakdown of two things: your collagen, and your telomeres.

  • Collagen breakdown:

Collagen is a main building block of your skin, and along with elastin, it is the portion responsible for keeping your skin hydrated, smooth, supple, bouncy, and springy (read: less wrinkly.) Too much cortisol flowing around in your high-stress state can both break down your existing collagen, as well as prevent its rebuilding, making you more prone to worsening and forming wrinkles.

  • Telomere shortening:

Telomeres are the little end caps on your chromosomes, that help preserve your genetic material every time a cell replicates, like your skin cells. Excess mental and physical stress can shorten these telomeres and make it that individual cells eventually stop replicating, or replicate at a slower rate. And for skin, this means less fresh skin cell turnover and more wrinkles.

How stress can indirectly affect your skin

Apart from the direct effects that stress can have on your skin when you are chronically stressed out, this tends to have an indirect effect on how healthy your skin is too. If you have ever gone through a particularly stressful time, think back to just how well you were keeping up with your exercise pattern, healthy eating habits, skincare routine, or getting in your full 8 hours of sleep - probably not very well.

Stress can indirectly cause you to skimp on the gym, binge on comfort foods, skip the moisturizer, and have way too little or too much sleep. All of these things can end up affecting your skin, leading to dehydrated, dull skin with poor circulation, and not enough antioxidants. Pretty much a fast track to more and worsening fine lines and wrinkles.

Ways to reduce stress for beautiful skin

Now that you are aware of the skin effects of being way too stressed out, you are probably ready for some stress relief ideas. Regular exercise is a great way to relieve stress and can have the added skin benefits of boosting blood flow to your face, carrying all that skin-nourishing oxygen and nutrients. Alternately, pick up a yoga or meditation habit to reset and relax and the regular.

Skincare products to help counteract the effects of stress

Since you can’t always avoid the necessary stress of everyday life, you can at least take the time to give your skin some extra TLC during high-stress periods. Moisturizer, sunscreen, and gentle washing once or twice a day is a must for the basics, and no matter how swamped you are that day, do your skin a favor and make time for at least these. If you can already see the signs of stress on your face, you can also look into skincare products that can brighten up a stressed complexion while helping boost collagen production by using strong yet gentle antioxidants like Vitamin C creams and serums.

To really bring out the strong stuff, look into adding in a tretinoin cream, like a prescription-only tretinoin cream, to help exfoliate, boost collagen production, and soften the appearance of already existing lines.

Strut Health makes prescription-only pharmaceutical-grade beauty creams like our vitamin C-packed Strut Brightly Cream, or our Tretinoin boosted Anti-Aging Formula. If you are ready to stop stress from showing up on your face, have a free online visit with our doctors today to see if a prescription option is right for you. If our creams are a good fit for your skin goals, your prescription cream can be shipped to your front door with our free 2-day shipping.


Stress can wreak havoc on your skin by breaking down collagen and shortening your telomeres, leading to a thin, dry, dull, and creased appearance. Stress wrinkles can also indirectly age your skin by making you want to skip skin-healthy habits like exercise, healthy eating, good sleeping habits, and sticking to your skincare routine. Work in some healthy stress-relieving activities to help prevent your bad days from turning into bad skin days.

If you are in need of youthful skin products, antioxidant boosts from vitamin C creams and skin smoothing Tretinoin products may help you keep your skin looking carefree (even if you are not.)

Free shipping
Free follow-up care
Cancel anytime, no fees
Free online MD visit

Related posts