During lockdown, I decided to take the opportunity of not seeing anyone in real life, to put away the make up and start afresh. Instead of covering scars created from spots and marks (due to the amount of pigment in my skin), I wanted to find out why they were being created in the first place. After months of LED lights, steaming, face-masks and acids, a combination started to improve the texture and even the tone. This changed the way I look at my skin, and of course make up. Now only using products to enhance, never masking. Apart from the odd flare up during early pregnancy, I was able to keep my skin at a pretty nice level, well until trauma hit.

Frederika Van Hagen – a wave of calmness and pure light, is my skin goddess. Her knowledge on skin, muscles and products always intrigues me, and I always leave our conversations feeling lighter, knowing that I had a positive plan to action. So when my skin went wild two weeks ago after a couple of stressful months, I called her to help me get back to basics. Frederika explained that ‘stress can cause a surge in cortisol, a hormone that regulates various body processes and is essential for daily functioning. However, excessive and prolonged cortisol release can lead to issues that impact sleep, diet, skin, and mental health.’ I had no idea about this, I knew hormone’s changed things, but this was new to me. My skin textured had suddenly changed, the glow had disappeared and small bumps were clustered in a couple of areas. Showing Frederika my skin and her knowing the trauma, she said that the ‘elevated levels of stress and cortisol can impact the skin by causing inflammation, which can impede the healing process and lead to skin barrier dysfunction. Stress can also increase oil production, leading to pimples and accelerate the ageing process by breaking down collagen and elastin. Moreover, skin sensitivity can result from the barrier breakdown, and dryness can occur due to trans-epidermal water loss, which can be a consequence of the skin’s barrier breakdown.’

So this was two weeks ago, and I have been religiously sticking to exactly what Frederika said. Here’s her 3 rules on how to calm a stress break-out.


‘LED light therapy is an excellent way to repair and rejuvenate the skin while promoting a sense of calm and well-being. Spending a few minutes each day using LED therapy can help you re-center and relax. For additional stress-reducing benefits, consider combining it with meditation or breath-work. Think of it as the ultimate two-in-one recharge for your mind and skin.

The RED LED – Reduces inflammation and stimulates collagen production, stimulates blood flow

BLUE LED – Anti Bacterial, normalises oil production and improves skin clarity

NEAR INFRARED – Reduces pigmentation (think post acne scarring) relieves redness and irritation. 

My favourites – Dermalux Flex, MK SKIN 2.0 or FACE LITE ‘


‘If you’re experiencing an inflammatory skin breakout caused by stress, it’s best to avoid using Vitamin C as it can lead to further irritation and exacerbate the breakout. Instead, wait until the inflammation has subsided before using it. Vitamin C can be excellent for brightening and lightening any post-acne scarring you may have.

My favourites: Mad Hippie, Environ Vitamin C, Medik8 Tetra C


‘Stress can compromise the skin’s barrier, making it susceptible to irritation and inflammation. Overloading the skin with active ingredients like glycolic acid or retinol can further aggravate it, triggering more skin issues and compounding our stress levels. Instead, adopt a simple, pared-back skincare routine, and gradually reintroduce more active products as your skin calms down.

If your skin is showing signs of stress, irritation, and inflammation, it’s best to avoid essential oils and fragranced products, even if they’re marketed as “natural.” These ingredients can cause serious skin irritation.

Best products: Saent Face Oil, Avene, Le Roche Posay, Esse