Stress, alcohol, chaotic travel, and a less-than-healthy diet during the holiday season can wreak havoc on your skin and hair. Here, your fixes
Too much travel, too little sleep, and way too many gingerbread cookies—they're all a part of the holiday season, and they can all wreak havoc on your skin. Here’s how to keep your complexion under control during the busiest time of the year.
Stressed-out skin is a recipe for disaster: “Anxiety creates an overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to unwanted inflammatory effects in the body,” says Jessica Krant, dermatologist and founder of Art of Dermatology in New York City. Translation: acne flare-ups and redness.
How to fix it: The best thing you can do for your skin is sleep. “Sleep has been shown to increase the body's healing and recovery time, so irritations can calm and skin can look healthy,” says Krant. And the quickest way to reduce stress: Exercise, says Krant. (Be sure to check out Time Your Strength Training & Cardio For Better Sleep.) Krant says to also look for soothing facial products with ingredients like feverfew, chamomile, or niacinamide to combat inflammation.
A flight or two sprinkled throughout the year is fine, but when you’re traveling to every twice-removed cousin’s house for the holidays, an airplane becomes a danger zone for your complexion. The cabin’s pressurized air is Sahara-dry, sucking out all of the moisture. To adapt to the shift in environment, “your skin is working overtime to compensate for the moisture loss,” says Krant. Oh, great: Dry skin gets drier, and oily types get oilier.
How to fix it: Combat parched skin by re-hydrating every hour of flight time. “Slathering on an oil or moisturizer acts as a barrier to the water loss,” she says. Make sure any product you choose is fragrance-free, so you don’t trigger inflammation (or your seatmate's fragrance allergy, says Krant).
Try: Darphin The Revitalizing Oil for Face, Body, and Hair ($50; darphin) and Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 50+ ($12.50; drugstore). For more winter-proof skincare, see 12 Beauty Products for Gorgeous Winter Skin.
We get it: Sometimes, the only way to survive Uncle Tony’s holiday party is with a little red vino. But just like how rubbing alcohol can draw out ink from your favorite T-shirt, liquor also pulls moisture from your skin. Too much of it triggers the anti-diuretic hormone vasopressin, which leaves you dehydrated, puffy, and bloated.
How to fix it: Drink lots of water—maybe even more than the recommended eight glasses—to make up for the loss. (Don’t miss 6 Reasons Drinking Water Helps Solve Any Problem.) As for skincare, look for products with cooling properties (like aloe vera) to instantly depuff. A classic tip: Stick a teaspoon in the freezer for five minutes, and then apply directly to any swollen skin to refresh the area. Seal moisture in with an uber-hydrating face cream.
A Poor Diet
Cheese plates, candy canes, and hot chocolate—all are (although admittedly delicious!) potential hazards to clear skin. Since foods high in saturated fat (like chocolate cake, egg nog, or whipped cream) break down into glucose quickly, eating too much can cause a major spike in your insulin levels, which triggers inflammation. Plus, glucose can slow down the collagen production in your skin and worsen problems such as eczema or rosacea.
How to fix it: “Concentrate on limiting the excess in your diet,” says Krant. If you notice a skin condition brewing, skip the cheese or sugar until it passes. And, although Krant says there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to food-induced flare-ups (since each individual’s chemistry is different), take the safe route and look for gentle anti-aging products made for sensitivity until skin is back to normal.