Why Travel-Related Stress Increases Acne

With a little knowledge and a few products, I'm staying one step ahead of breakouts on my summer travels.
Publish date:
June 25, 2014
acne, summer, breakouts, stress, travel, acne awareness month, pimples, mario bedescu, retin a

I love going to new places. I love the adventure, the exploring, seeing the world... it's getting there that's the problem. Being on modes of transportation stresses me out. Planes, trains, and automobiles, if you will. Buses, bicycles, and sometimes just plain old walking can be included on the list, too.

The problem is that, for me, this type of travel-related stress = breakouts. And that's no fun at all. To get some answers about why that is, and hopefully some solutions, I spoke with a doctor friend of mine, Dr. Eunice Chan.

Why Travel-Related Stress Increases Acne

Dr. Chan filled me in on some of the specifics of acne and stress. She told me that AS.) acne is an inflammatory disease, b.) stress is super inflammatory and causes you to lose sleep, and c.) as a result of this sleep loss, the glands in your face get stressed and secrete an oily, waxy matter that clogs up your pores.

Here's the kicker: when the body is in a state of stress, a hormone called cortisol is released. Cortisol is produced in the same pathway as testosterone, which has a direct correlation to increased acne.

Dr. Chan also noted that poor coping mechanisms for stress--lack of sleep, unbalanced eating habits, irregular hygiene--can play a large role in travel-related acne. So get your eight hours, eat four square meals, and keep squeaky clean before and during your trip. (Hard to do if you're backpacking around Europe, I know.)

6 Products To Prevent Breakouts While Traveling

Knowing this puts a lot of my personal travel habits into perspective. Here are six things I never leave home without.

Retin A: I typically use this two or three nights per week, starting the night before I leave for my trip. I carry it with me in my travel bag, because it is my liquid gold and I don’t want to lose it in a freak baggage accident.

Mario Badescu Rose Water Spray: Rose water calms my senses and makes me more relaxed. Sometimes I add glycerin to my rose water for hydrating benefits. I pretend I’m a beauty mad scientist.

Simple Face Wipes: These are for wiping off those excess dead skin cells and bacteria. They help you feel refreshed when you're in a closed, stuffy environment.

Blotting Sheets: My face produces a lot of oil, so I use these to wipe away oil and keep my face from looking too shiny.

Bobbi Pins: Keep stray, dirty hairs out of your face. It's gross to think about, but your hair catches germs from sneezes, coughs, and other icky stuff that flies around in the close quarters of an airplane or bus.

Melatonin: I have to be able to sleep, but I only take melatonin in moderation. It’s a hormone produced in your body that reacts to light and darkness. If you take more than is recommended, you can confuse your bod's hormone system.

So, I’m trying to learn to chill out before travel. Trying. Do you all have stress triggers? What products keep your skin in check while traveling?