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5 Ways The Holidays Can Mess With Your Skin

5 Ways The Holidays Can Mess With Your Skin

‘Tis the season for parties, rich food, late nights and eggnog. Great! But, get this, the holidays can be hella hard on your skin.

It's true, living the good life can really mess with your skin. So, let’s nip that in the bud toute de suite by learning about the biggest holiday skin sinners, shall we?

1. Alcohol

A glass of wine every now and again and a few G&Ts on a Friday night are not going to cause your skin to totally freak out (there are far stronger forces to blame there) but frequent and excessive drinking, which is often par for the cause over the holidays, can definitely take its toll on your poor complexion.

So, exactly how does alcohol affect the skin – specifically in the short term? Well, for starters alcohol is a diuretic. This means it makes you pee more, causing you to lose more water than you would on a regular day without the booze. Losing an excessive amount of water can make you quickly feel dehydrated which is a bummer on the skin, sapping it of essential moisture, increasing dryness and dullness and intensifying the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles quicker than a flash.

Alcohol also screws up your sleep patterns (more on that in a minute), inflames the tissue and causes your blood vessels to dilate, exacerbating facial redness and making your skin feel hot and angry. Sure, this is not a massive deal in the moment (although it can ruin your makeup!) but continue to drink and over the years that temporary flush can become much more of a permanent fixture. No fun.

Your Holiday Action Points

Drink more water. Try to down a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you drink. This’ll help minimize dehydration.

Give yourself alternate days off. This allows enough time for alcohol to leave your body. Damage limitations and all that.

Choose clear alcohol. Clear drinks like vodka and tequila leave your body far quicker than darker ones.

Hydrate your skin from the outside in. Use a moisture-binding serum like Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum daily.

    2. Rich Food

    Everyone knows the benefits of a well-rounded diet that’s heavy on the fresh fruit and veggies and high in fiber and protein. And for the best part of the year it’s not that difficult to ensure you’re balancing lots of the good, healthy stuff with a few of the naughties.

    But the holiday season is a whole different matter. Candy is constantly on offer while rich, heavy dinners are a given – not to mention the desserts. Oh the desserts!

    Being informed of some of the effects of rich, festive food, however, goes a long way to helping you to resist over-indulging. Regular indulging, of course, is fine – it IS the holidays, after all. But completely overdoing it? Maybe not.

    The main food fiends when it comes to the wellness of your skin are sugar, salt, fried foods and refined carbs. No surprises there, right? Sugar and processed carbs like white bread and pasta, for example, have been proven to lead to the accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are harmful compounds that form in the skin when you bombard your body with too much sugar. This excess of the sweet stuff attacks your skin cells, latching onto collagen and elastin, and causing them to stiffen and weaken. You might as well just invite lines, wrinkles, sagginess and dullness to your holiday parties.

    Your Holiday Action Points

    Be mindful when you cook. Substitute white sugar with honey, don’t brine your turkey, reduce the amount of salt you add to your cooking, bake instead of fry your foods and choose wholemeal breads and brown rice.

    Snack wiser. Instead of filling up your snack bowls with salted pretzels and heavily seasoned chips, choose unsalted nuts instead. Also lay out lots of berries to pick at. Then you won’t feel so bad for indulging on chocolate! 

    Combat free radicals. Give free radicals a run for their money by applying topical antioxidants on the reg. Our hot holiday fave is Vitamin C Super Serum+.

    3. Hot & Cold Temperatures

    Winter equals cold weather and a real lack of humidity in the air. And this can mean only one thing for your skin – dryness.

    In complete contrast, you are then faced with warmer temperatures inside, thanks to roaring fires and cranked up heating. This also sucks moisture from your skin and, not only that, but extreme temperature changes cause tiny capillaries in your skin to contract and dilate, resulting in redness and inflammation. Good grief!

    Your Holiday Action Points

    Turn the heat down in your home. It might feel cozy to crank up your heating, but try not to go too crazy. The ideal home temperature should be somewhere around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Limit hot baths and showers. Scorching hot water strips away the protective lipid layer from your skin’s barrier, sucking away moisture and leaving you with surface dehydration. Turn down the temperature and limit bath time to 15 mins.

    Stick with super gentle cleansing. Harsh cleaning products will do your skin no favors, so go for mild formulations that care for your complexion. We love Soothing Cleansing Milk for nurturing holiday skin.

    4. Stress

    Are your holiday menus going to suit everybody's tastes and dietary requirements? Will your bestie love her gift as much as you want her to? And, shoot, you forgot to get those last-minute stocking stuffers for the kids! There are so many things to get stressed about during the festive season that, frankly, it’s a miracle any of us survive it.

    Thankfully, we do live to tell the tale. However, your skin can really suffer during the holidays thanks to emotional stress. You see, stress throws your hormones totally out of whack. When you feel stressed, your nervous system releases a whole bunch of hormones into the bloodstream (think cortisol and adrenaline) which causes your heart to pump faster, your breath to quicken and your muscles to tense and get ready for action. This is great when you want to nail a scary job interview or shine on a first date, but when it becomes a regular thing, these stress hormones go into constant overdrive and your body has no chance to relax and go back to normal. This plays havoc with your emotions, your sleep and can result in any number of physical issues like headaches and nausea and often more serious concerns like heart or digestive problems. Then, of course, there’s your skin.

    An overload of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’ makes your sebaceous glands produce more oil (cue greasy skin and pimples). It also impairs your barrier function, accelerates inflammation, depletes collagen and interferes with your skin’s healing process. Not ideal for those pimples we just mentioned.

    Your Holiday Action Points

    Make lists. Lists are great, not only for helping you to remember everything you need to do/buy/make, but also for clearing your mind. Especially before bed. And especially at this time of year.

    Take time out. If you’re feeling frazzled, go for a ten-minute walk or take yourself off to a private space to breathe and relax. It’s amazing what a little me-time can do for the soul.

    Calm inflammation with soothing skincare. Aloe vera, green tea, rose water and niacinamide are awesome for stressed skin. Try a spritz of Rose Water Refreshing Facial Toner for instant zen.

    5. Zero ZZZs

    It’s party time. Yay! Good on you, enjoy yourselves. But… and it’s a big but… try not to overdo it at the expense of your sleepy time. Skin hates that.

    The reason sleep is so important for the health of your skin is that while the brain goes into rest mode your skin gets kinda busy. Blood flow increases to nourish your skin with valuable nutrients; antioxidants kick in to help your skin recover from the perils of the daily grind; cell turnover accelerates to bring fresh, healthy skin cells to the surface, and collagen production revs up big time. And as you know, collagen is extremely important for your skin, maintaining strength, structure, firmness and volume.

    Without the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, your skin is going to miss out on all that good recovery and rejuvenation time. And it will suffer because of it, furnishing your complexion with anything from dull, sallow skin to full-on acne breakouts. You have been warned.

    Your Holiday Action Points

    Get an early night whenever you can. Ideally you should go to sleep and wake up at roughly around the same time each night. But heck, it’s the holidays. So don’t pass up the opportunity for partying, just get more sleep on those rare nights in.

    Make your bedroom a sleeping paradise. Invest in some blackout curtains, get a humidifier, wear earplugs if noise is an issue and ensure your room is the perfect temperature for sleeping (65 degrees Fahrenheit according to The Sleep Foundation).

    Treat your skin overnight. Ensure you never wake up with dry, sad skin by gently cleansing your face and neck then slathering Vitamin C Deep Hydration Night Cream all over.


    More About This Article

    Georgia Gould

    Georgia Gould

    Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.