I originally wrote this blog post a few years back, but it is still very relevant today. Please enjoy this revised version, now that the party season is going to be in full swing again very soon.
It’s starting to feel like Christmas, the weather is warming up, people are coming out of their winter hibernation and the Champagne has started flowing.
If, like me, you tend to overindulge a little bit over the festive season – be it with later nights, an extra glass of wine, or those Christmas treats that seem to appear in the staff room at work – then you may notice that your body (and your skin) doesn’t always thank you in the months following.
It’s important to remember that those little overindulgences (later nights out with friends and increased sun exposure) can wreak havoc with your skin: causing breakouts, formation of wrinkles, dark circles under the eyes, and a dull and lacklustre complexion.
I don’t want to sound like the Grinch, I love my Champers and Christmas pudding just as much as the rest of us. That said, I thought it would be a nice idea to bring to your attention (just a gentle reminder) that these seemingly harmless activities can cause multiple problems for our skin, health and wellbeing.
Time to do some damage control. So, where do I start?
Ahhh. The love of champagne, cocktails, wine and eggnog (maybe not).
Unfortunately, alcohol is one of the worst things you can consume in regard to your skin. I am sure many of you (myself included) have woken up the morning after a big night out with a new breakout and a dry, dull complexion for the days following.
Alcohol causes dehydration, and dehydration affects the skin by causing a decline in the ground substance and supportive structures. This results in poor skin tone and integrity, and a dry, sallow appearance.
Alcohol is a diuretic. As it slows down gut motility, and affects liver function and digestion, we see the effects in dehydration, headaches, poor sleep, bloating, poor digestion to name a few.
So, how do we combat this and still enjoy a glass of wine during party season?
Make sure you drink a large glass of water before you leave the house, and abide by the old rule of drinking a glass of water after each alcoholic drink. Once you’re home, drink at least 1 litre of water before you go to sleep, adding in an electrolyte supplement or Berocca to help replenish and rehydrate (and help prevent a hangover).
I do not advocate getting drunk, but this is advice for those who do like to have more than a few drinks during the Christmas season.
In regard to your skincare, the addition of a hydrating serum is essential.
This is my go-to product to help restore moisture balance and provide hydration.
My pick is the PCA HA Boosting Serum. It feels silky on the skin, and it can be used morning and night. It rejuvenates the skin, using different sizes of hyaluronic acid molecules to hydrate deeply, while also replenishing surface level moisture. This multi-level hydration is what will give your skin a smooth and even texture, providing the perfect canvas for any bold Christmas party make-up looks.
In addition to a hydrating serum, a good emollient or moisturiser is essential. My favourite hydrating moisturiser is Cosmedix Emulsion or Cosmedix Humidify. If required, a rehydration mask containing similar active ingredients can help to relieve dry, distressed and dehydrated skin, and help kickstart your skin’s recovery.
However, like I have said before, prevention is better than cure, so start sipping that H2O and monitor your intake of alcohol this festive season.
Sugar is my nemesis. It is also my skin’s nemesis, and it can rear its ugly head during Christmas parties (particularly in those delicious cocktails on a Friday night). I won’t discuss the health problems associated with sugar, however, they effect it has on our liver and metabolism results in increased inflammation, manifesting as congestion and acne.
Many people relax their eating habits this time of year, then go on to have a New Year’s ‘detox’, and make New Year’s resolutions that fail after a few weeks. Why not keep a bit of balance during the holiday season to avoid the post-Christmas slump?
Everything in moderation. Simple. Easy. Effective.
Eat a wide variety of lean protein, fruit, vegetables and good fats such as avocados and nuts, and reduce processed foods, whist allowing a little treat here and there. It really isn’t rocket science.
Diet and excess sugar consumption tips:
- Eat a light meal before you go out. Include a lean protein such as chicken or salmon, and lots of light salad greens, so you don’t get bloated. This will keep you full and stop you overindulging in all the sugar-laden treats on offer.
- Have some cinnamon before you go out or go to bed. A teaspoon will help balance your blood sugar a little bit and fight inflammation.
- Keep up your regular exercise regime. Move every day and try to incorporate exercise into some of your social engagements. Regular exercise stimulates the gut, and increases intestinal activity, helping your body to process increases and changes to your food intake.
- Use antioxidants in your skincare regime to help decrease inflammation in your skin from the dietary changes that accompany the party season. A high-dose vitamin C serum works to promote collagen synthesis, provide environmental protection, smooths and firms the skin. Add this to your usual routine, and you will see the changes at the end of summer. Our go to antioxidant serum in clinic is Cosmedix Affirm and Cosmedix Pepoxide.
I don’t really need to elaborate here. 7-8 hours is ideal. This is when our body (and skin) rejuvenates and repairs for the day ahead. Too much sugar, alcohol and irregular bedtimes can all result in poor quality sleep. Try and maintain a regular bedtime and waking time, sip on a herbal tea before bed, and SWITCH OFF the iPhone.
And don’t forget to wash off the makeup before sleep. Use a micellar water followed by a gentle cleanser (such as Cosmedix Purity Clean).
A good overnight mask does wonders too, but can be easily forgotten in a tipsy haze at 1am. For an extra dose of hydration, I like to use PCA’s HA Overnight Mask to plump and nourish my skin while I sleep. This formula is also fantastic for soothing any irritation or redness as it contains Panthenol and Niacinamide.
As I’ve mentioned numerous times before (I often sound like a broken record to my patients), the sun exposure in Australia is a direct contributor to our ageing skin and the primary cause of wrinkles, pigmentation changes, and, of course, skin cancer.
Daily SPF 30-50+ of a broad-spectrum sunscreen is non-negotiable. I can’t stress this enough. Not only will this limit sunburn and DNA damage from both UVA and UVB rays, but it will also prevent and repair pigmentation. This has the added benefit of ensuring any treatments you have done over the silly season will work to their maximum benefit. Not negotiable! Oh and SPF in makeup is not considered protection.
Whether it’s juggling work with social commitments, nailing the perfect Christmas lunch, or hosting out of town guests, we can all find ourselves feeling a little stressed around the festive season, despite all the tinsel and cheer.
Many skin conditions and concerns can be exacerbated by stress, including acne, eczema and rosacea. Even clients who don’t usually struggle with blemish-prone skin can experience breakouts and other problematic skin concerns during times of pressure. This can partially be attributed to a spike in stress hormones including cortisol, which can increase the skin’s oil production.
An increase in stress can also wreak havoc on our digestion, sleeping patterns and appetite, which in turn acts as fuel on the fire for skin flare-ups.
Taking a high-quality dietary supplement such as JS Health Skin & Digestion can help to keep stress-related breakouts at bay. This supplement is well suited to the demands of the silly season as it contains turmeric to relieve any digestive discomfort.
I hope this was helpful and practical for the upcoming party season. Party proof your skin this year and I promise you will see the changes come 2022.
Dr Kate x