Can Stress Cause Breakouts? What You Need to Know to Prevent This

Yes. Absolutely yes. Stress has a biological effect on the body, and those effects can disrupt the normal balance of processes that keep you happy and healthy. One direct effect of stress in particular includes the imbalance of oils that occurs in the skin, which can lead to breakouts.

Let’s talk about the relationship between stress and skin health, and how you can work to nourish your skin when it needs you the most!

Can Stress Cause Breakouts?

While the simple presence of stress may not immediately cause acne breakouts, the ways your body handles that stress can trigger negative reactions in your skin that do result in breakouts. This is especially the case for chronic stress.

When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is like a little messenger that tells your body it’s go-time, telling your body that extra resources need to be made available to help tackle the impending stress.

One of these resources is sebum, aka the natural oils produced in your skin. As cortisol signals increased oil production in your skin, you become more susceptible to breakouts.

How To Keep Stress-Related Breakouts at Bay With the Right Skincare Routine

The basic steps to an effective skincare routine are mostly the same regardless of skin concern. If you struggle with stress-related or hormone-related breakouts, what can be most useful is to first ensure you’re hitting the basic requirements of a supportive skincare routine, then work to adjust your regimen to include formulas that can support breakout-prone skin.  

Being mindful of active sebaceous glands paired with keeping skin clean and hydrated can go a long way toward a more clear complexion. 

Find the Perfect Cleanser

If your skin is oily or breakout prone, you’ll want a cleanser that treats your skin with the gentle touch it needs while also being hard on dirt, oil, and bacteria

Unfortunately, many cleansers marketed toward people who struggle with breakouts or oily skin use harsh synthetic versions of ingredients like Salicylic Acid, which can disrupt the skin barrier. 

Supporting your skin barrier is incredibly important when it comes to addressing breakouts and keeping them at bay. A disrupted skin barrier can’t do its job — it can’t keep the moisture you need for skin to stay hydrated and balanced, and it won’t be equipped to keep out the bacteria that instigates breakouts. 

Our Clear Nourishing Cleanser was specifically formulated to cleanse and balance oily skin while nourishing and supporting your all-important skin barrier

Black Willow Bark Extract helps to gently exfoliate and slough off dead skin cells (think of it as nature’s salicylic acid), while White Helichrysum is known for its antibacterial properties. While those ingredients work hard to cleanse, Aloe Vera naturally soothes and calms irritated skin, and Hemp, Pumpkin, and Grape Seed Oils balance sebum on the skin. 

Use a Serum

Supportive serums can help deliver ultra-nourishing ingredients that can help your skin be the best it can be. 

Our Chebula Active Serum is loaded with powerful hydrating and anti-aging ingredients to help nourish skin and support your skin barrier. Chebula extract is one of the most bioactive and powerful antioxidants in nature that helps support your skin barrier — not to mention it can combat five signs of aging, too!

Aloe Vera, which hydrates and soothes, as well as a powerful series of antioxidants derived from Elderberry, Echinacea, and Ginger can help keep your complexion bright

It also contains Hyaluronic Acid, which is a superhero when it comes to properly moisturizing your skin. Hydrated skin is non-negotiable when it comes to keeping breakouts at bay, so getting that extra boost in your topical serum can be skin-changing, no matter how persistent those bumps on your forehead are.

Our Chebula Active Serum is the perfect investment in the future of your skin, which is important if you’re trying to make sure your skin is in good enough condition to fight off blemishes. 

Nail Your Moisturizing Routine

Even if you feel like your breakout is related to excess oil on your skin, it’s important to not leave moisturizing out of your routine! Ironically, letting your skin dry out too much can stimulate additional oil production and create a vicious circle.

While it may feel counterintuitive, the right moisturizing face oil can help balance oil in the skin. Face oils work hard to lock in moisture that quenches your skin throughout the entire day. It can also provide a seal of protection from external elements that can otherwise irritate your skin and contribute to breakouts.

Our Clear Pure Radiance Oil is formulated specifically for breakout-prone skin — oily skin beauties including Actor & Filmmaker Olivia Wilde swear by this moisturizing face oil as their does-it-all moisturizer! 

The thing is, when you’re stressed, the stress hormone cortisol can up the oil production in your skin, which can lead to breakouts and clogged pores. 

Replenishing your skin with essential fatty acids like the Omega-3s from the Algae Extract and Astaxanthin in our formula is an effective way to help put everything back into balance. 

Clear Pure Radiance Oil is also formulated with small-molecule seed oils that won’t disrupt your skin’s natural mojo. It’ll just help your skin do its job by keeping the good things in and the bad things out, leaving you with gorgeous, glowy, clear skin, even during your deadline week at work. 

Spot-Treat As Needed

If your preventative skincare is full of supportive products but you still need a little more help with stress-related breakouts, you can utilize targeted products on affected areas to minimize the appearance of your blemishes. (Just promise us you’ll still try to bring your stress levels back to normal!)

One easy tip you can incorporate into any part of your routine? Add 1-2 shakes of Vitamin C Booster into your hand or dish, and using a clean concealer brush, apply directly to your toughest dark spots.

Using a product formulated with Salicylic Acid has a drying effect on oily areas that helps to visibly minimize the appearance of pimples. The problem is that Synthetic Salicylic Acid can be overdrying, which is where nature’s salicylic acid, Willow Bark Extract, can save the day. 

Our Clear Nutrient Toner is formulated with Willow Bark Extract that can act as a gentler yet effective drying agent that helps combat concerns without irritating and sensitizing skin. 

The formula also includes Raw Apple Cider Vinegar and Fermented Kombucha to help support your skin microbiome — we like to work with your skin’s powerful natural processes instead of disrupting them. 

You can also work a face mask into your routine, like our Pacific Glacial Clay Detoxifying Mask, which draws toxins and impurities out of your pores without drying or disrupting your skin’s ecosystem

Our Pacific Glacial Clay is packed with more than 60 minerals and antioxidants. It also does double duty as a natural skin hydrator, working to both keep your skin clear, and restore that supple texture.

What Are Other Ways To Tackle Stress Breakouts?

Let’s talk about some ways to help lessen the chances of stress breakouts so you can get your skin back to its most clear and gorgeous self. 

Make Time To Relax

We know — there’s nothing more stressful than somebody telling you not to stress out. But, finding ways to let your body know it’s safe to relax is one of the best things you can do, even if it may seem impossible to slow down and just breathe. 

This doesn’t have to mean changing your whole life — just finding time to relax can be as simple as making time for a bedtime routine where you do your skincare, read a book or meditate for a few minutes, and really calm down before you sleep. 

You could even do a similar routine in the morning where you make sure you give yourself enough time to wake up at your own pace, without immediately scrolling through notifications on your phone or reviewing your calendar for the day. Take a few moments to take a deep breath and stretch your body, and make enough time to pamper yourself during your morning skincare routine. 

If you think you might need a little extra help making your way to tranquility, our Stress Relief essential oil blend is an easy way to promote feelings of calm throughout your day. Tarragon and Frankincense are known to help stabilize mood and help ground you so you can relax. 

Roll the oil onto your temples, wrists, and chest, and breathe in deeply to experience the soothing benefits of aromatherapy. This richly scented formula is gentle enough to reapply through the day as needed to help you find calm as you need it. 

Keep a Consistent Skincare Regimen

The best care for your skin is preventative. While there are ways to handle stress-related breakouts once they happen, doing your best to consistently support your skin with a multi-step skincare routine can put you in the best position to help lessen the chance of a breakout when stress does happen. 

As stress increases sebum production, skin becomes oilier and more prone to breakouts. But if your skincare routine is supporting nourished, healthy-looking skin in the first place, stress breakouts are less likely to be catastrophic and more likely to be a small glitch. 

In Conclusion

Aside from making you feel mentally tense, that emotional stress can trigger biological reactions that can contribute to breakouts. If you feel like your skin gets even more overwhelmed than you do during stressful or busy periods of your life, practicing some additional mental health self care and ensuring that your skincare regimen is giving your skin the best possible chance at fighting an occasional acne flare up.  

With an eye on your overall wellness, you can potentially help minimize adult acne issues that come your way.

Shop the True Botanicals Clear line here for everything you need to help support breakout-prone skin. 


Cortisol: What It Is, Function, Symptoms & Levels | Cleveland Clinic 

Corticotropin Releasing Hormone and the Skin | HHS Public Access

The Vicious Cycle of Itch and Anxiety | HHS Public Access

Slowing of Wound Healing by Psychological Stress | The Lancet