– Dermatologist Top Tips by Dr Stefanie Williams
We all dream of our skin looking picture perfect at Christmas, whether for the office party or for that special moment under the mistletoe. However, the reality of the non-stop party season – otherwise known as December – can take its toll on our skin. Increased consumption of alcohol and indulgent party food combined with cold weather and central heating can wreak havoc on our complexions, leaving skin red, breakout prone, dull and older looking than need be.
Here are some top tips for maintaining healthy and beautiful skin all year round.
1. Monitor your party food consumption
We are in the midst of the Christmas party season but try avoiding junk food and sugary foods as much as possible (without spoiling Christmas of course…), as these contribute to premature skin ageing, but can also exacerbate certain skin conditions.
Make sure to eat lots and lots of antioxidant rich foods such as fresh vegetables instead (don’t be shy – pile on the Brussel Sprouts), as these will help counteract some of the oxidative stress generate in your skin by not so good habits around Christmas. Don’t worry about having plenty of good fats such as plain nuts (not the sugar-coated type!), avocados, coconut and olive oil. These are not a problem for your skin – on the contrary.
It goes without saying that smoking is a massive no-no! The major consequences of this skin-unfriendly lifestyle should not be ignored.
2. Moderate your alcohol intake
Too much alcohol is another Christmas sin for your skin, as excess alcohol consumption has been shown to increase oxidative stress and micro-inflammation in our body, as well as contributing to mitochondrial dysfunction (mitochondria are the power houses of our cells) and telomere shortening (the latter is a sign of cell ageing). Not speaking of disturbing your natural gut flora and being linked to dehydration of the skin and body. Believe it or not, alcohol consumption has even been shown in a published study to make your breasts look less attractive…
Drinking alcohol may also make rosacea flare up (a common trigger is red wine, but everybody is different…). And while it is a myth that alcohol consumption causes rosacea as such (rosacea is caused by a genetic predisposition, not alcohol itself), certain types of alcohol can lead to an unwanted rosacea flare-up.
Excess alcohol might also exacerbate adult acne, psoriasis and discoid eczema, as well as increase susceptibility to skin and systemic infections. I could go on and on…
So, with this in mind, make sure to keep an eye on your alcohol consumption in the Party Season, and keep up your water intake throughout the party season. Why not plan to have a large glass of still water with every alcoholic beverage?
3. Wash & Go
If you are coming home late after a Christmas party, make sure to remove your make-up and cleanse your face properly. Falling into bed without cleansing your face is an absolute no-no! Cleansing wipes also a no-go. And to be honest, a quick cleansing with water, a good cleanser and your hands (no cloth, brush or other fancy equipment needed here) is quicker than using wet wipes anyway … that is if you use wipes properly, rather than a half-hearted wipe, which would be useless anyway.
While cleansing is crucial to your daily skincare routine, toners aren’t strictly necessary though, so you can save time on skipping the toner after a late night out.
4. Don’t forget to catch up on beauty sleep
Always try to get 8 hours sleep at night to give your skin cells a chance to optimise repair and regeneration. Stress and sleep deprivation cause cortisol levels to go up, which are detrimental for your skin and lead to premature skin ageing. So, should you have accrued ‘sleep debt’ after the Christmas party, make sure to catch up the very next day, so it doesn’t accumulate.
· Keep your skin glowing, but avoid over-moisturising
Cold, dry winter air can make our skin feel a little drier. However, while adding a light-weight hyaluronic acid serum is beneficial to help counteract these effects, make sure not to over-moisturise with heavy emollients (unless you have genetically dry skin such as eczema), as this will not do your skin any favours long-term and may even leave you more breakout prone over the holidays.
One of the key factors in keeping skin looking and feeling healthy during the winter months is to take preventative steps against dryness such as minimising contact with soap (especially on the body!). However, I am not a fan of cleansing balms or oils either. My recommendation is to use a gentle, yet pore-cleansing facial gel cleanser instead.
An omega-3 containing fish oil supplement as well as a good collagen supplement (ideally 10g bovine collagen per day), can also help with dry winter skin without having to overload the skin with overly heavy skincare.
5. Avoid hot baths
After a brisk walk home in the freezing cold, it’s tempting to jump straight into a steaming hot bath, but this may not be the best choice for your body skin, if you suffer with dry skin (skin on our body has much more of a tendency for dryness compared to the face!).
Baths and showers should be kept as short as possible, if dry skin is a problem, and water should ideally be lukewarm. Mesh sponges, abrasive scrubs and woven cloths should also be avoided in dry winter skin as they may aggravate the problem.
All these habits will lead to a slightly less frightening sight when you look in the mirror first thing the morning after! I hope this helps.