Stress Acne Triggers & Causes Explained!

Stress Acne Triggers & Causes Explained!


The toll of modern life can often wreak havoc on our skin. From the pressures of a career to the demands of family, stress can manifest in various guises, and one of the most vexing can be stress acne. If you're tired of braving the boardroom while battling blemishes, it may be time to look beyond the mirror and into the root causes that trigger these unwelcome breakouts. This is your comprehensive guide to understanding stress acne and arming yourself with the defense to restore your glow and confidence.

What is Stress Acne, and What Does It Look Like?

Before we discuss the triggers and defense mechanisms against stress acne, it's important to know exactly what we're dealing with. Stress acne, as the name suggests, is a breakout resulting from heightened stress levels. Characterized by the sudden appearance of pimples, flare-ups can range from the infamous whitehead and blackhead varieties to more severe and painful papules and cystic acne.


These small, round blemishes are typically flesh-colored and result from follicle blockages. 


Like whiteheads, blackheads form when a pore becomes clogged with oil and dead skin, but instead of bulging out, they remain flat and open, creating a dark appearance due to exposure to air.


Red and inflamed papules are pimples that don't contain pus. They can be tender to the touch and often appear in clusters.

Cystic Acne

One of the more severe types of acne, cystic acne, consists of large, pus-filled lumps beneath the skin's surface. These lumps are painful and can cause scarring.

Causes of Stress Acne

Understanding the root causes of stress acne is crucial in developing a strategy to combat it. Stress can initiate a cascade of changes in the body, including hormonal imbalances, increased sebum (oil) production, inflammation, poor lifestyle choices, and even stress-induced skin picking.

Hormonal Imbalance

When stress disrupts the body's hormonal equilibrium, it can lead to imbalanced hormone levels, which affect sebum production and cause acne.

Increased Sebum Production

Sebaceous glands become overactive during stress, producing excess oil that can clog pores and cause breakouts.


Stress triggers the release of cortisol, often called the "stress hormone," which can lead to increased inflammation in the body, including the skin.

Poor Lifestyle Choices

Stress can lead to cravings for unhealthy food and neglect of skincare routines. When combined with inadequate sleep and lack of exercise, this creates an environment ripe for acne.

Stress-Induced Skin Picking

The urge to pick or touch the face can be a soothing mechanism but can also worsen breakouts and lead to scarring.

Triggers of Stress Acne

Recognizing the events or situations that act as triggers for stress acne is essential in learning how to manage and, where possible, avoid these bouts of breakouts.

Emotional Stress

From daily worries to significant life events, emotional stress can impact our skin's health.

Lack of Sleep

Quality sleep is crucial for skin rejuvenation. A lack of adequate rest can further exacerbate the effects of stress on the skin.

Unhealthy Diet

Indulging in junk food or consuming high-sugar and high-fat meals can lead to inflammation and contribute to acne.


In some cases, a genetic predisposition to acne can make one more susceptible to stress-related breakouts.

Physical Stress

Intensive workouts or physical exertion in demanding situations can cause stress on the body, which can be reflected in acne breakouts.


Some medications, such as corticosteroids or birth control pills, can influence hormonal imbalance and increase the risk of acne.

How to Prevent Stress Acne

Thankfully, there are strategies to minimize the occurrence and intensity of stress acne. Prevention is the best approach, and it involves adopting a lifestyle conducive to your overall well-being and skin health.

Stress Management

Implement stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises, into your daily routine.

Healthy Diet

To support your body's defenses against stress, incorporate a nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil.


Regular physical activity is a natural stress-reliever and can help to keep your skin healthy by promoting better circulation.

Sun Protection

While some may find the sun's rays a mood enhancer, UV exposure can induce stress on the skin. Protect yourself with a broad-spectrum sunscreen to prevent UV-induced acne flare-ups.

Use Less Makeup

Although it's helpful to have a range of concealers on hand, try to minimize your use of heavy makeup, especially during peak stress when the skin is more prone to breakouts.

Hydrate For Travel

Traveling can be damaging to your skin. The dry air, dust on flights, and new environmental elements at your destination may cause irritation. Stay hydrated, moisturize to retain moisture, and keep that healthy glow.

BelleCôte Esthetician Tip:

Dealing with a pimple? Avoid the temptation to squeeze it. This could lead to more breakouts. If you lack a proper acne treatment, don’t worry: apply a small dab of toothpaste directly onto the affected area. 

At-home remedy:

Egg whites' protein may combat skin bacteria and blemishes, while lemon juice can tighten pores.


  • 2 to 3 egg whites
  • A few drops of fresh lemon juice


  • Separate egg whites from yolks, place in a bowl, and add lemon juice.
  • Whisk until foamy, then apply on your face.
  • Leave the mask on for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Rinse with a damp cloth and follow with moisturizer.

The Takeaway

In the quest for radiant and stress-free skin, it is key to combine knowledge of stress acne triggers and causes with preventative measures. BelleCote’s clinically validated skincare formulations can be integral to your arsenal for beautiful skin.

BelleCote Morning Skin Care Regimen for Stressed-out Skin

Start your day by revitalizing your skin with BelleCote's Azelaic Acid Toner. This powerful blend targets blemishes and supports a clear skin tone. It's the perfect solution for gently cleansing your skin of impurities, ensuring a smooth and balanced canvas for your skin's day ahead.

Follow with BelleCote Vitamin C-3 Serum, a perfect combination of stabilized pure organic vitamin C, and ferulic acid to balance and brighten your skin.

Esthetician Tip: Only apply BelleCote's Azelaic Acid Toner on your T-zone, pimples, and blemishes. This toner contains salicylic acid, which can be overly drying for some areas of the face.

Complete the routine with BelleCote’s Double Sun Protection Cream, a mineral SPF 30 with Zinc Oxide and marine sun filters (Chlorella & Spirulina), to protect your skin and heal breakouts.

BelleCote Night-Time Skincare Routine for Stressed-out Skin

After you've faced the day's challenges, give your skin rejuvenation, and clean it with Marine cleanser and toner.

Continue with BelleCote's Triple Stem Cell Mask. This luxurious mask, formulated with cutting-edge stem cell technology, helps to calm your skin and replace damaged cells. Apply the mask, and after ten minutes, rinse with room-temperature water.

Then, apply BelleCote’s Ultra Nourishing Night Cream and restore your skin while you sleep, washing away the effects of stress and preparing you for the day ahead.

Esthetician Tip: Keep BelleCote's Drying Lotion on hand to treat unexpected acne emergencies.

By incorporating a diligent skincare routine into your daily life, you'll address the symptoms of stress acne and strengthen your skin's resilience against future breakouts. Remember, the most beautiful skin is the healthiest skin, and that starts with a lifestyle that minimizes stress and prioritizes self-care.

For more detailed ingredient information about BelleCote products, please visit: Ingredient Information - BelleCote


Learn how marine collagen and collagen peptides can improve your health and beauty regimen.

Q: What does stress acne look like?

A: People who are experiencing acne along with stress have more nodules or inflammatory papules (red bumps and cysts) as opposed to blackheads and whiteheads.

Q: How do I overcome anxiety and acne?

A: Learn to de-stress and make sure you get enough sleep and exercise. Participate in activities such as yoga and meditation if this works for you.

Q: Does ice help acne?

A: One of the best properties of ice is anti-inflammatory that helps reduce and heal acne. It calms and soothes inflamed skin and minimizes the size of your pores.

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