Main content


Stressed skin is skin that is weakened, dull or dry, due to exposure to internal or external stressors. Find out how to treat and defend against stressed skin.

 How To Defend Against Stressed Skin

If you’re experiencing feelings of skin discomfort or visible signs of stressed skin, this could be due to the stressors in your environment. Skin can be impacted by external and internal factors, ranging from pollution to stress from daily activities, but there are skincare practices that will help you care for, treat and defend against stressed skin to help prevent future signs of aging.

What is Stressed Skin?

Stressed skin is skin that’s visibly reacting to stressors, which can cause it to look dull, dry or uneven in tone and texture due to a less-resilient skin barrier. Chances are, you encounter stressors that can impact your skin every day, which can result in visibly stressed skin and visible signs of aging.

What Causes Stressed Skin?

The main causes of stressed skin fall into two categories: external and internal stressors. External stressors are part of the environment you live in and include pollution, sun radiation, tobacco, temperatures and free radicals. Internal stressors include feelings of anxiety or stress, your nutrition and lack of sleep. These stressors can either be short term — daily occurrences including running late to work or spilling coffee on your blouse — or long term — ongoing circumstances including living in a city with pollution. Both types of stressors trigger the local and systemic release of a stress molecule called cortisol. Cortisol is important for maintaining a normal metabolism and regulating physiological functions, however, if not balanced with antioxidantsi, cortisol can be detrimental to skin as it results in the generation of free radicals, which can cause cellular damageii and lead to visible signs of stress in the skin, including loss of suppleness and radiance.

Stressors are not always visible, and many people will encounter at least one of these types in their day-to-day life. If your skin is not prepared to defend against these stressors, it could lead to visibly stressed skin, which is why it’s important to fortify the skin barrier to defend your skin and help avoid the appearance of stressed skin.

What Does Stressed Skin Look Like?

Stressed skin will vary from person to person, depending on the type of stressor impacting the skin and your skin type and skin barrier strength. But, in general, your skin could be stressed if it’s dull, if your skin is more oily or more dry than usual, if you have uneven skin tone and texture, if you’re experiencing a blemish or a breakout or if your skin is showing early signs of aging, including fine lines and wrinkles or loss of firmness.

How Does Stress Affect Your Skin?

If your skin is showing signs of stress, the external or internal stressors you’re facing are impacting your skin, most likely due to a lack of skin strength and a less-resilient skin barrier. This could result in loss of radiance, firmness or increased sensitivity and breakouts, causing a less healthy-looking complexion.

Can Stressed Skin Result in Early Signs of Aging?

Our chemists learned if your skin is stressed, you could develop early signs of aging including loss of suppleness, resilience or firmness and the appearance of fine lines due to the fact that coming in contact with stressors increases the free radicals in the skin, weakening the skin and making it more vulnerable. This is why we’ve developed our new skin-strengthening serum to be specifically formulated to help correct signs of stressed skin while defending against skin-aging stressors. We recommend this formula as a first step in your skincare routine to help strengthen skin so as to better guard against every day and long term stressors.

How Can You Help Repair Stressed Skin?

If you’re showing signs of early aging or otherwise stressed skin, it’s important to choose gentle skincare products, including cleansers and creams, to calm and soothe stressed skin. As a first step in protecting against stressors and helping visibly correct signs of stressed skin, we recommend our strengthening serum as a foundation in your skincare routine. For fortifying the skin barrier to defend against further stress damage to skin, we suggest you try our moisturizer for stressed skin to hydrate skin and help protect from visible signs of stressed skin.

What’s Good for Stressed Skin?

Formulas that fortify the skin barrier to help defend against stressors are great for helping defend against the effects of stressed skin. Look for skincare products formulated with antioxidants and adaptogens to help boost skin strength and protect against visible signs of stressors. Products with antioxidants are recommended for their ability to help neutralize free radicals, while skincare products with adaptogens are recommended to help prevent stressed skin. The topical application of adaptogens dates back to traditional medicinal practices for treating fatigue and stress. Of course, limiting your exposure to both external and internal stressors as much as possible is also a great practice for avoiding stressed skin.

What are Adaptogens and Can Adaptogens Help Stressed Skin?

Adaptogens are plant derived ingredients that help the body cope and fight stress to restore a sense of balance so that the skin and the other organs of the body can functioning properly and defend against stressors that might cause the body to succumb to and be more impacted by stress. When your body is in a balanced state, adaptogens remain inactive and don’t interfere with the body’s typical functions, but when you encounter a stressor, adaptogens get activated and work to combat the stressor to help return your body to its previous balanced state.

Due to their stress-fighting properties when activated by stressors, adaptogens can help restore stressed skin when applied to the skin through topical application through firming skin to increase resilience, energizing skin to stimulate cell turnover and soothing skin to increase renewed cell production for skin that’s visibly firm, smooth and healthy-looking.

How Can You Strengthen Your Skin?

In order to strengthen stressed skin, we recommend fighting visible signs of stress with a combination of plant-derived adaptogens and skin barrier-fortifying ingredients, which is why our formula combines a blend of adaptogenic botanicals and skin-strengthening 11kDa Hyaluronic Acid, to help protect against stressors and fortify the vulnerable surface layers of skin.


Our unique formula demonstrated to help repair stressed skin, helping correct signs of visibly stressed skin while defending against the early signs of aging to visibly renew skin, boost radiance and improve texture for skin that’s more resilient to stressors.

  • 11kDa Hyaluronic Acid
    In a clinical penetration study, our strengthening serum demonstrated that our formula with 11kDa Hyaluronic Acid penetrates deeper than some other forms of Hyaluronic Acid to reach the skin’s most vulnerable surface layers, up to eight surface layers deepiii. Our clinical skin strengthiv and hydrationv studies show our formula delivers skin-strengthening hydration for improved skin resiliency and suppleness for skin that’s better equipped to defend against stressors.

  • Our Adaptogenic Herbal Complex
    The Kiehl’s chemists have created a formula that contains anti-stress, antioxidant-rich and anti-fatigue adaptogens Holy Basil, Red Ginseng Root and Schisandra Berry to help replenish and fortify skin for visibly improved texture and resilience.

Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum

Our formula with 11kDa Hyaluronic Acid and an Adaptogenic Herbal Complex helps strengthen the skin’s surface layers and resist the aging effects of stress. Due to the simultaneous strengthening of skin, resistance of stressors and correcting of visible signs of stressed skin, our serum should be the cornerstone of your skin-strengthening skincare routine, a first-step to decreasing susceptibility to stressors that can cause signs of aging for skin that’s more fortified and healthy-looking.

 Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum

I “Free Radicals and Extrinsic Skin Aging,” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 2012.
II “Generation and Reaction of Free Radicals in the Human Body: A Major Cause of Aging and Chronic Degenerative Diseases,” ECronicon, 2015.
III Results based on clinical penetration study on 25 subjects comparing Super Serum penetration in skin compared to a control.
IV Results based on a 4-week clinical study on 58 subjects living in polluted, urban environment. Skin Strength Index based on a composite, average score of the clinically graded parameters Skin Suppleness, Plumpness and Resiliency after using the product for 4 weeks vs one week of use.
V Results based on a clinical 24 hour hydration study on 25 subjects.


Orientation message
For the best experience, please turn your device