Nearly half of UK adults report stress-related skin conditions

Published 11th Mar 2024 by Eve Oxberry

Nearly half (42%) of the UK population believe stress has had a negative impact on their skin and hair.

Dry skin tops the list of stress-related beauty concerns, affecting three in 10 people, according to new stats from wholesaler Capital Hair & Beauty.

How does stress affect the skin and hair?

The most common hair and skin conditions Brits struggled with in the last year were:

  1. Dry skin (29%) 
  2. Hair thinning and loss (22%) 
  3. Acne and breakouts (19%) 
  4. Inflammation (12%) 
  5. Eczema (11%) 

While stress can be caused by a variety of factors, the study, which surveyed 2,000 UK adults, showed that money issues were the top contributing factor, with 35% saying this was their biggest stressor last year.

This echoes the results of a recent study that showed 90% of men under 50 are worried about effect of cost-of-living stress on their appearance.

The next most common reason cited was the stresses of family life, which was a factor for 32% of Brits.

Others attributed their stress to their jobs, with over a quarter (26%) saying work life increased their stress levels last year.

Which age group suffers from stress the most?

Generation X, aged 45 to 54, were revealed to be the most stressed, with 30% saying their stress levels were high last year.

Over a quarter (27%) of this age group showed physical signs of stress, with hair loss and thinning particularly common. However it’s important to note that many women aged 45-54 are within menopausal age, which is also a cause of hair loss.

Which UK cities suffer most from stress-related skin concerns?

The top cities suffering from hair or skin issues because of stress are:

  1. Nottingham (53%) 
  2. Cardiff (52%) 
  3. Leeds (49%) 
  4. Newcastle (47%) 
  5. London (45%) 

Dry skin was found to be the most problematic for Geordies, with 38% saying they struggle with this and a further 17% saying eczema was their top concern.

Those from Leeds found that hair loss and thinning was the biggest concern, with 26% suffering from this. 

Rebecca Elsdon, advanced skin specialist, commented, “In our busy lives, stress is a common factor that really affects our skin.

“Stress triggers the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol directly impacts our sebaceous glands, making them produce more oil, and it also affects our immune system, making our skin more reactive and sensitive. 

 “Stress-induced internal inflammation can worsen conditions like eczema, rosacea, and acne.  

“For instance, eczema sufferers may experience intensified flare-ups, characterised by redness and itching. Acne, too, is often exacerbated, with stress triggering hormonal fluctuations that contribute to breakouts.

“Beyond the visible effects, stress significantly hampers the skin's ability to heal itself. Wound healing slows down, making the skin more prone to irritations and delaying recovery from existing conditions. 

“To tackle these issues, managing stress through techniques and using the right skincare can help alleviate symptoms. Managing stress not only helps in preventing flare-ups but also aids in the overall improvement of skin conditions.” 

Eve Oxberry

Eve Oxberry

Published 11th Mar 2024

Eve Oxberry is head of editorial for Professional Beauty and Aesthetic Medicine magazines and editor on PB. She oversees the company's print, web and social media content and writes reviews, news, features and more.

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