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Most Stress-free & Stressful Cities in America

Most Stress-free & Stressful Cities in America
SkinStore Editors
Writer and expert3 years ago
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Have you ever noticed your skin start to break out when you’re having a stressful week, or a stressful year caused by the Covid pandemic? Skin problems are often triggered by the stress and anxiety of everyday life, even if you’re just a tiny bit prone to them, feeling stressed can really make them flare-up. 

Stress in your life can be a result of many things, all of which can cause your skin to become dry, oily, or inflamed. This can lead to hypersensitive skin and flare-ups of skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Taking care with the right skincare products can help combat this, but it’s important to keep your stress levels low to stay as healthy as possible.

Our study shows you the most stress-free cities in the US using a zen score. This is based on things such as overall happiness, work productivity, average working hours, earnings, divorce rates, safety, and pollution, allowing us to reveal which cities are best for your health, are overall stress-free, and in turn the best for your skin. 

America has a total zen score of 64% for stress-free cities

The study looks at overall happiness, how overworked people are, pollution, and safety in each state to work out an overall zen score out of 100. The average zen score across the US is 63.73, which isn’t that bad but does mean almost half the country is suffering from stress issues.The average safety score in the U.S. is 50.64/100, based on personal and residential safety, financial safety, road safety, workplace safety, and emergency preparedness. This score has been ranked by real American’s views on safety across the country where a range of things could be impacting this low result.Linked to workplace safety, the overall working score for those living in the U.S. is 58.14/100. This score is based on the working hours of U.S. citizens. Our study shows that the average hours worked per week are 38.95, though this does not mean that all is perfect for the average American worker. Many Americans do not take their full annual leave, continue to work at their desk throughout their ‘breaks’ and find themselves working stressful jobs - not a good mix for your skin. 

The total happiness score for Americans is a low 52.33. There is a big gap between different states, with some scoring in the low 30s and others nearing 70. 

Pollution is a worldwide problem and in the U.S. there are some states that are worse than others. The average score for pollution in the U.S. is moderate, with urban areas scoring more than double their rural counterparts. Pollution is known for being bad for your overall health, but daily exposure to polluted air is bound to affect your skin. So where are the most stress-free cities in the country?

Ranked: These are the cities with the most stress-free Americans

Rank State City Safety Score Working Score Happiness Score Pollution Score ZEN Score 
1 Utah UT Salt Lake City 62.48 75.2 67.84 31 81.0
2 Indiana IN Indianapolis 56.66 67.4 50.2 46 75.4
3 Iowa IA Des Moines 60.85 72.4 61.07 25 75.1
4 Ohio OH Columbus 47.04 71.9 48.19 46 73.0
5 Arizona AZ Phoenix 51.47 62.7 52.92 45 72.6
6 Michigan MI Detroit 50.81 74.9 49.52 35 72.0
7 Minnesota MN Minneapolis 64.43 63.1 67.26 14 71.5
8 Oregon OR Portland 54.78 64 48.05 39 70.5
9 Wisconsin WI Milwaukee 54.39 73.4 58.87 17 69.7
10 Nevada NV Las Vegas 52.94 59.1 51.8 39 69.5
11 Delaware DE Wilmington 51.91 58.8 51.67 39 69.0
12 Pennsylvania PA Philadelphia 47.24 55.6 50.54 48 69.0
13 Idaho ID Boise 52.98 71.6 63.09 12 68.4
14 California CA Los Angeles 49.26 36.2 63.14 50 68.0
15 Washington WA Seattle 56.76 46.2 56.44 39 67.9
16 Illinois IL Chicago 47.64 47.3 52.47 49 67.3
17 Kentucky KY Louisville 52.87 69.6 39.42 33 66.7
18 Connecticut CT Bridgeport 61.49 55.2 58.24 17 65.7
19 Kansas KS Wichita 44.73 66.9 52.3 28 65.7
20 Nebraska NE Omaha 51.89 62.1 59.11 17 65.1
21 Rhode Island RI Providence 54.56 65 50.44 17 64.0
22 North Dakota ND Fargo 51.19 62.8 65.62 5 63.2
23 Oklahoma OK Oklahoma City 40.37 62.1 38.89 43 63.1
24 Maine ME Portland 62.53 63.5 49.81 7 62.6
25 Montana MT Billings 42.95 79.4 51.08 9 62.5
26 Missouri MO Kansas City 42.09 67.3 42.76 30 62.4
27 Alabama AL Birmingham 39.91 67 39.35 35 62.1
28 New Jersey NJ Newark 51.76 35.6 58.1 35 61.8
29 North Carolina NC Charlotte 53.49 56.1 53.69 17 61.7
30 West Virginia WV Charleston 48.25 69.8 33.42 28 61.5
31 New Mexico NM Albuquerque 51.33 74.9 43.35 8 60.8
32 Georgia GA Atlanta 45.06 44.2 55.15 33 60.8
33 Texas TX Houston 38.84 41.7 52.56 43 60.3
34 South Dakota SD Sioux Falls 44.17 65.1 60.8 6 60.3
35 Vermont VT Burlington 64.32 59.9 48.18 3 60.1
36 Maryland MD Baltimore 54.65 36.1 61.78 22 59.8
37 Wyoming WY Cheyenne 57.31 66.1 48.9 2 59.7
38 South Carolina SC Charleston 44.77 56.5 48.26 22 58.7
39 Virginia VA Virginia Beach 56.17 41.7 57.35 15 58.3
40 Hawaii HI Honolulu 60.29 37.8 68.27 3 58.0
41 Massachusetts MA Boston 58.98 41.5 56.85 10 57.3
42 Arkansas AR Little Rock 38.49 66.9 36.61 25 57.2
43 New Hampshire NH Manchester 61.19 51.7 52.37 1 56.9
44 Mississippi MS Jackson 33.11 58.6 41.63 31 56.3
45 Tennessee TN Nashville 44.58 49.8 46.13 22 55.7
46 Colorado CO Denver 45.36 46.2 55.38 13 54.8
47 Florida FL Jacksonville 36.42 46.6 51.01 25 54.5
48 Louisiana LA New Orleans 34.54 50.7 37.15 35 53.9
49 New York NY New York 52.01 30.7 57.35 10 51.4
50 Alaska AK Anchorage 46.68 48.7 38.21 15 50.9
*All rankings are out of 100 from a number of ranking factors

Salt Lake City is the least stressful place to live

If you are looking for a stress-free life in the U.S, you should be packing your bags and moving to Salt Lake City in Utah. Not only does it score highest for zen, but it’s also the second-best city to work in. With a working score of 75.2, the only city that scores higher is Billings in Montana, with a score of 79.4.Both cities are perfect for business and pleasure alike; Salt Lake City boasts a beautiful mountain backdrop while the ‘City Beneath the Rimrocks’, Billings, has a number of selling points, including its growing medical sector, spectacular natural attractions and affordable housing. Both cities are the perfect stress-free environment for you and your skin to thrive.  

New York is the most stressful place to work

The worst city for work-related stress is New York, followed closely by Newark in New Jersey. Neither city scored well for the number of working hours, however, both require a lot of work to afford a good standard of life. With 101 hours of work a week needed to afford a one-bedroom home, New York is definitely not a city that sleeps. 

Minneapolis is the safest neighborhood 

If you feel like your stress is caused by worrying about how safe your neighborhood is, then Minneapolis is the right city for you. This Minnesota city is known for its parks and lakes and has a safety score of 64.43, followed closely by Burlington in Vermont and Portland in Maine. With a particularly good education system and a thriving business sector, this state has much to offer those looking for a stress-free life. 

The best cities for your skin health and being stress-free

While we all know pollution is bad for the environment, it’s also damaging to our health. It can increase the risk of a number of serious conditions, such as lung cancer, asthma, cardiovascular damage and more. Continuous exposure to pollution can also lead to the breakdown of everything your skin needs to look healthy, while also leading to early signs of aging.

UV exposure is another dangerous threat to the health of your skin. It is known to cause problems such as skin cancer, premature aging of the skin, eye problems and signs of sun damage such as wrinkles, leathery skin, liver spots, actinic keratosis, and solar elastosis. 

We analyzed which cities rank the best and worst for pollution levels to determine the best places for your skin health across the country.

The 10 best cities for skin health

State City Pollution Value UV Rays Index Skin Score (UV + Pollution)
New Hampshire Manchester 4.1 1 5.1
Vermont Burlington 4.8 1 5.8
New York New York 6.4 0 6.4
Alaska Anchorage 6.9 0 6.9
North Dakota Fargo 5 2 7.0
South Dakota Sioux Falls 5.2 2 7.2
Maine Portland 5.3 2 7.3
Massachusetts Boston 6.4 1 7.4
Wyoming Cheyenne 4.5 3 7.5
Virginia Virginia Beach 6.9 1 7.9

New York City is one of the best cities for skin health in America

Benefiting from a combination of low pollution and UV index, the least polluted cities in the U.S. are Manchester in New Hampshire, followed by Burlington in Vermont and New York City. New Hampshire is defined by its quaint towns and large expanses of wilderness, all helping keep its pollution levels low. Similarly, Burlington’s low pollution levels benefit from Vermont’s lake and mountain regions, while New York’s levels are low thanks to the City and State’s recent efforts to lower emissions from regional and local sources. 

The 10 worst cities for skin health

State City Pollution Value UV Rays Index Skin Score (UV + Pollution)
California Los Angeles 12.6 4 16.6
Mississippi Jackson 7.8 5 12.8
Arizona Phoenix 8.6 4 12.6
Texas Houston 8.4 4 12.4
Georgia Atlanta 7.9 4 11.9
Utah Salt Lake City 7.8 4 11.8
Hawaii Honolulu 4.8 7 11.8
Indiana Indianapolis 8.7 3 11.7
Illinois Chicago 9.5 2 11.5
Nevada Las Vegas 8.3 3 11.3

Los Angeles is the worst city for pollution and UV in America

Los Angeles on the other hand is ranked as the worst city for your skin. It is the center of the nation's film and television industry and a popular tourist attraction, all bringing more pollution to its air.Jackson in Mississippi, Phoenix, Arizona, and Houston in Texas also ranked low in the ranking for their high pollution levels as extra care is clearly needed by residents in these cities to protect their skin.

How you should take care of your skin

No matter where you live, it is always important to look after your skin daily. There are a number of ways to protect your skin and make the city or cities you live in stress-free, including wearing SPF every day. Take a look at our products to ensure you’re using the best skin treatment possible. We also have many useful guides on our blog to help you pick the best products to protect your skin, and to give your skin that extra boost.


Individual data rankings for cities were taken from the following sources:Following this, each ranking was collated and compared with one another to calculate a score out of 100 for happiness, safety, working and pollution, based on their positive and negative connotations to create a finalized ranking for each city known as the ‘Zen’ score. To rank the best cities for skin, the ranking was then analyzed based only from the pollution and UV ray levels to discover the best and worst cities for your skin health.
SkinStore Editors
Writer and expert
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Our team of beauty experts cover everything from skincare to makeup, picking out the most effective products from the best brands and latest trends. Stay up to date on everything beauty with the SkinStore blog, and find all your essentials in one place.