Stress series (Skincare)

I am currently writing this from my bed, next to a large mug of Lemsip, a box of kleenex and a hot water bottle – the aftereffects of Block 3 (The Brain and Behaviour) :(!

Nevertheless, it gives me a great opportunity to stop, slow down and catch up with my blog! I thought I would do a little series of posts on managing stress, starting with skincare.

Stress is something that affects everyone in some way, and it can manifest itself in hundreds of ways. As medical students in particular, studies have revealed that the mean levels of stress are higher in medical students as opposed to the general population – so it’s not looking great for us really is it…

So what exactly is stress?

Stress is defined as a feeling of being overwhelmed by current situational, environmental or perceived pressures, and an inability to cope. The effects of stress can be:

  • Emotional – e.g. depression
  • Psychological – irritability
  • Physical – high BP, fatigue, weakened immune system (Exhibit A – me lying in a heap of flu right now), acne etc.

So as I mentioned earlier, today’s post will be focusing on the relationship between stress and breakouts. I was really interested in researching the effects of stress on breakouts and skin integrity, especially when I noticed I’ve been getting a lot more breakouts since starting Medicine.

In 2003, a paper was published by Stanford University which found that students were more likely to suffer from acne during stressful time periods, i.e. exams, compared to time periods without stress, i.g. spring break.  Annoyingly, the exact mechanism by which stress worsens our skin is still unclear, but it is suspected that higher levels of cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress), cause the cells in our skin to produce more sebum – an oily substance that lubricates our hair follicles. The more sebum we produce, the higher the risk of clogging the hair follicles, mixing with dead skin cells and bacteria, leading to…. you guessed it, a big fat juicy pimple.

How do we make it stop?!

I have tried everything from cutting out sugar, dairy, drinking more water, doing more exercise, wearing less makeup – but my spots seem to persist. I am quite fortunate in that I only tend to breakout with one spot at a time, but my problem is that they are heavily pigmented, and end up scarring my face for months…. not ideal! Seeing as I can’t seem to stop them appearing when they do appear, I did some extensive research in how I can better manage them when they do form, and I thought it might be useful to share my discovery with you lovely people!

Neutrogena visibly clear light therapy targeted acne spot treatment

So I came across this product totally by chance, and the reviews were amazing, so I figured I would give it a shot! What drew me to this product was that it is totally chemical free, pain free and was relatively cheap compared to other branded skincare treatments.

According to Neutrogena, Light Therapy works by using blue and red lights to fight bacteria and reduce inflammation. The instructions for use were pretty easy: ‘Wash and dry face prior to use, treat for 2 minutes, 3 times a day anytime, anywhere’. So that’s what I did, and here’s my verdict:

Pros Cons
Very easy to use Did not help with the pigmentation
Not time consuming Did not help with scarring
Visibly reduced the inflammation Not clear how long you are supposed to use the pen for… days? Weeks? Months? Who knows?!
Reduced the size of the spot significantly

If you want to find out more about Neutrogena’s products, have a look here:

I am still looking for ways to help with the pigmentation and scarring that spots leave behind so if any of you lovely readers have any advice please do get in touch!

Until next time!



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