It’s ironic that the more stressed you are, the more it affects your outward appearance, thus making you more stressed in the process?

We take a look at how your skin, hair and nails might be trying to tell you something…

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Skin

Its effect on the skin is quite simple; when we’re stressed, the level of the body’s stress hormone (cortisol) rises, causing an increase in oil production. Not only can this lead to oily, shiny skin but it can cause spotty, blemished or acne-ridden skin too – ever noticed that your skin flares up before a big job interview or stressful occasion? That’ll be the cortisol.

But it’s not just oil that causes problems. Stress can trigger a negative effect on the barrier function of the skin, resulting in water loss and slowing down the skin’s ability to heal itself after an injury.

This can be particularly noticeable in people with pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, as it literally slows the entire healing process down.

Hair

Stress is often considered one of the main reasons that men and women inexplicably lose their hair. But why?

When someone is under a lot of stress, the body can take time-out from growing hair and concentrate on recovery and healing. If hair loss occurs, hair doesn’t grow back as much, if at all.

Greying hair, too, is often put down to stress. Although no conclusive research has found a direct link, just take a look at Prime Ministers and US Presidents whose hair has changed colour dramatically after a few years in office!

[Read more: Why is my hair falling out? 8 major causes of hair loss in women]

Nails

We all have habits that we default to when stressed and biting nails is one of them. It can be the first sign that you’re stressed.

Like the skin, nails are said to reflect a person’s overall health. Peeling, brittle nails can be caused by chronic stress and like the skin, nails are a low-level priority for your body to heal or focus on, so nail growth can stop all together.