Stuffy planes. Black Friday shopping stress. Running on zero sleep. And the eggnog — So. Much. Eggnog. The holiday season can throw your usual routines and habits out the window, which can be really bad news for your skin. Stress can negatively affect your immune system, and cause breakouts, while heavier meals and drinking can dehydrate skin and stagnate lymphatic fluid, resulting in puffiness, dark circles, and more prominent fine lines.
But waking up on January 1st with sad skin isn’t inevitable. Here’s what to do before, during, and after the holidays to keep your skin looking great.
Get your skin in its best shape possible before the season really sets in. That might mean hitting the spa for laser treatments, if that’s your thing, but topical creams containing vitamin C and retinol will also do the trick. Keep up with moisturizing and consider switching to a richer face cream — especially if you live in (or are traveling to) a cold climate, as the outside air and indoor heating can dry out your skin and leave you with dark circles.
Have your holiday meals with a side of antioxidants
In between helpings of pie, make sure your holiday meals are antioxidant-packed — think berry-filled smoothies, leafy greens, and green tea. Antioxidants are crucial for anti-aging, to protect our skin, our collagen, and our elastin from free radicals that cause damage to the DNA in our cells,” Sherry Ingraham, M.D., tells Vogue.com
Try not to overindulge during cocktail hour
Alcohol can seriously dehydrate you and inflame your digestive system. The result? Dry, lackluster skin and pesky breakouts that are caused by your overworked digestive system. “. . . your skin cells require energy to eliminate toxins and repair and regenerate themselve. Your heart requires energy to pump blood efficiently to your skin to maintain collagen production and oxygenate the cells to protect them from aging,” according to the Liver Doctor. “If your liver is not doing its job of breaking down toxins efficiently, they must be eliminated from your body by other means – in many cases they come out through your skin!”
Schedule some alone time
Stress causes your cortisol levels to skyrocket, which leads to inflamed skin. “The higher the cortisol is, the more wound-healing slows and the more breakdown there is of collagen,” Amy Wechsler, M.D. tells YouBeauty. Collagen is the stuff that keeps skin full, smooth and elastic — as it breaks down, skin starts to sag, wrinkle and generally look less vibrant. Keep your complexion calm by keeping yourself calm — take some time away from the family to sneak in a walk or a yoga class, start your morning with meditation, or take a long shower before going to bed at night.
Check in with your dermatologist
If your skin issues are persistent or your symptoms are worse than normal, check in with a dermatologist. Skin problems like rosacea can be triggered by stress, extreme weather, and certain foods, but your doc can prescribe or recommend a topical solution to help clear up your skin during the stressful holiday months.
Keep up with your bedtime routine
It’s to be expected that the holidays will throw some of your skincare and sleep routines out of whack, but the more you can stay on the track, the more your skin will thank you for it. Resist the urge to fall asleep with your makeup on or stay out super late on a regular basis — after all, bedtime is when your skin cells turn over, and they can’t do that well when you’re not resting. Wash your face before bed (or at least keep a pack of makeup wipes on your nightstand for when you’re feeling lazy). In the evening, turn down the thermostat and give your pillows a spray of lavender to get in the mood for sleep.
Do damage control
If you wake up with puffy eyes and skin, reach for a cooling face mask. And double up on the pillows at night — keeping your head elevated will leave your skin less bloated when you wake up.
Bottom line? Enjoy the holidays, but definitely don’t ignore your skin until they’re over.