I entered quarantine with one silver lining: the hope I’d emerge with crystal-clear skin. But nine weeks in, it’s apparent all I’m getting out of this is stress acne. In normal times I usually deal with adult acne, thanks to a winning combination of hormones and genetics. But even despite the fact that I gave up makeup two months ago and have more downtime for my skin-care routine than ever before, every day I’m still greeted by a brand-new pimple.
A quick scroll through Twitter reveals I’m not alone. Women who haven’t had acne since high school are suddenly battling a face full of it, or they’re seeing clusters of acne breakouts instead of the usual period zit. Sure, there are probably plenty of reasons—face mask irritation, changes in all of our routines—but there’s also a really simple explantation: We’re all stressed the eff out. Acne may seem small compared with what’s going on in the world, but when the only face you see in a day—or at least focus on—is your own, it can affect your whole mood.
While the obvious answer to stress acne is simply to be less stressed, that’s helpful advice to absolutely no one. However, the good news is that once you know the signs of it, it’s much easier to treat. We talked to top dermatologists on how to identify, get rid of, and manage stress acne. But first, we get to the bottom of how stress hormones can effect your skin.