Reading Time: 4 minutes

Dr Howard Murad, Founder of Murad skincare, has become somewhat of a pioneer in the field of stress-related skin conditions, with his continued research and published white papers on the effects of ‘cultural stress’ on the skin. With the high levels of stress we all experience throughout modern society, particularly the extreme levels that the majority of the population suffered throughout the better part of this year, we can see why the relationship between stress and poor skin health has become one of such intrigue.

As beauty therapists and skin clinicians, we’re finding stress to be an increasingly common cause of many unwanted skin conditions and is proving to contribute to an overall decline in skin quality amongst many of our clients. In fact, this conversational topic has been so highly sought after that many of you may have already tuned in to see Murad’s Head of Global Education, Dr Annie Woo, present on stress and the skin at this year’s virtual Beauty Expo. So on that note, let’s dive into Dr Murad’s latest white paper to be released: Effectiveness of positive insights for emotional wellbeing and stress reduction.


First, let’s talk about cultural stress. A condition coined by Dr Murad himself, he identifies this as one of the largest contributing factors scientifically shown to have a negative impact on cellular health. “Cultural stress is a certain kind of stress that is specific to our modern day-to-day living. Unlike normal stress (like if you break your arm, or if a family member is sick) cultural stress is a product of our overworked, digitally dependent, and technologically invasive lifestyle. Those usually affected by cultural stress are professionals in the developed world. This over-saturation of being constantly “on-line” (whether it be on the phone or computer) for work, pleasure, socialisation and so forth, has led to isolation and loneliness, sedentary lifestyles, chronic disease, and increased anxiety.” Those who feel the effects of cultural stress suffer from what Dr Murad calls ‘Cultural Anxiety Syndrome’.

Wellness is a deep passion for Dr Murad, which he delves further into in his latest research “Effectiveness of positive insights for emotional wellbeing and stress reduction”. The study focusses on wellness interventions, based on the theory that positive and healthy mediums of self-care such as daily self-affirmations, meditation and journaling can effectively release the stress responsible for declining skin health. Forty healthy candidates took part in the study, which engaged participants in a four-week intervention utilising daily ‘positive insight cards’ to improve stress levels. Subjects were instructed to focus on the insights a minimum of twice daily for 4 weeks and incorporate the cards into their daily routine. For example, this may include posting the Insight Cards at work in subject’s personal space/office for convenient reflection, or keeping in a journal or purse, or near their bedside table. If you attended one of our virtual BeauteBrunch events recently, you may recognise these insight cards as they were gifted into your goodie bags too! Research Participants were also asked to keep a daily journal throughout the study about how the Insight Cards have influenced their journey during the study.

Insight Cards included the following 11 statements:

1. The best is yet to come you have to let it enter.
2. Give yourself permission to be successful.
3. Your harshest critics are really very critical of themselves, not you.
4. Be imperfect live longer.
5. If it is no big deal don’t make a big deal about it.
6. Forgive yourself.
7. Be thrilled with who you are.
8. Happiness resides within.
9. Why have bad days, when you can have a good day?
10. Beware of creating your own stress.
11. Dance even if you don’t hear the music.

Insight cards were developed to affirm behaviours that are known to have positive wellbeing effects based on affective science and positive psychology. However, the cards did not suggest a specific solution. As such, each participant could attribute different meanings to the cards. A significant reduction in perceived stress was observed after four weeks.

With psychological stress being known to affect nutrient absorption, the skin’s wound healing mechanisms, hormone levels, transepidermal water loss, inflammation, gut health (required for healthy skin) and countless other physiological mechanisms, studies like these demonstrate why it is so imperative for us as clinicians to utilise and understand the knowledge of stress’ effects on the skin, as well as passing this education on to our clients and incorporating stress reduction techniques into our recommended regimes. This is particularly crucial for us to practice during these last few months of the year. We all know that Christmas will be difficult this year in particular; not only for us as practitioners and business owners, but for our teams and our clients on a personal level – many of whom will not be given the chance to see family residing in other states or countries, or be struggling with extended financial hardships.

If you, your team or your clients would like to incorporate daily mindfulness exercises into their routines to help combat stress, Dr Murad has just launched (alongside his latest white paper) a new app for this very purpose. ‘Dr. Murad’s Inspirations’ offers daily affirmations of wisdom and beauty from Dr. Howard Murad himself, each one linked to a stunning digital reproduction of one of his acclaimed paintings. You can even set timed reminders for yourself to practice with these each day. And, speaking of Christmas, not only do the new holiday season packs from Murad combat common signs of stressed skin, they are guaranteed to put a smile on all your clients’ dials with their incredibly bright, joyful designs this year, complete with on-point messaging such as ‘You dew you’ and ‘Take time off’.

For more info on Dr Murad’s research or this year’s holiday gift packs, visit