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Conquer Anxiety Acne

Letting your skin care slip could cost you later.

When researchers at Stanford University set out to debunk the myth that stress exacerbates bad skin, they discovered it's actually true. Dermatologist Alexa Kimball, MD, compared tension levels and breakout severity in 22 acne-prone college students 1 month before exams and then again during exams. Acne flared most in those reporting the highest stress.

Call it scientific confirmation of a totally predictable beauty emergency--the ugly zit that arrives just in time for the big job interview, a hot date, or your wedding day. Kimball suspects that two controllable factors are at work: stress-activated hormones that boost oil production, and human error--a "grab anything" diet and cutting corners on skin care when life gets crazy.

Prevention's advice: If there's a stressful event on your calendar, step up your usual acne routine at least 10 days beforehand. Keep a "preemptive strike kit" on hand: benzoyl peroxide to stop acne bacteria, salicylic or glycolic acid gels to keep pores clear, and prescription meds if you need them for more stubborn bumps.

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