It’s the most magical time of the year, as they say, but it might not be your skin’s favorite season. The cold weather, dry inside air and holiday stress (not to mention the bevvy of sweets and booze you’re more prone to indulging in) are certainly not the recipe for healthy, glowing skin. If you’re like most people, the holiday season can bring about the flare up of certain skin conditions, including rosacea and acne, as a result of some habits we do unknowingly.
Even if you think you’re caring for your skin in the best way possible, you may be prone to making these holiday habit mistakes this season.
Since it’s freezing out, and potentially cloudy or even snowing, you might forget to apply your SPF, or think that you don’t really need it. But the sun doesn’t stop shining during the winter months, even if it’s overcast. “Don’t be fooled into thinking that cloud cover will protect you from harmful UV rays,” says Brendan Camp, MD, a Manhattan-based dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. “Applying a daily moisturizer with SPF is important year-round.”
It can be tempting to faceplant right into bed after a long day, especially one that included a ton of delicious food and holiday drinks. But it’s important to always wash your face—even if you didn’t wear much (or any) makeup—to prevent clogged pores and breakouts. The best trick Blair Murphy-Rose MD, New York City-based dermatologist and Clinical Assistant Professor at NY Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medical Center, recommends to her patients is to keep a pack of makeup remover wipes at your bedside table. “Even if you roll into bed without doing your perfected double cleanse then serum and moisturizer routine, at least you’ve gotten a lot of the makeup and grime off your skin,” she says.
It’s always fun to get a bunch of new skin goodies during the holidays, but be wary not to try them all at once. “While certain products and ingredients can be effective at achieving a glow, oftentimes starting too many products at once can actually lead to sensitivity and irritation, which may appear as redness or flaking,” explains Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery (MDCS) in New York. Instead, she recommends introducing a new product each week to ensure your skin is able to tolerate it.
Before you pour that second or third glass of wine, know this: drinking can lead to skin dehydration and dry skin is dull and luster-lacking. “If your alcohol intake increases around the holidays, try to remember to stay well hydrated with non-alcoholic beverages in between cocktails or glasses of wine,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “Another tip to consider in choosing cocktails that are mixed with soda water rather than sugary mixers like fruit juices, grenadine and soft drinks.”
“We now know that our devices emit high energy visible light in the blue spectrum that causes free radical damage that leads to pigmentation,” warns Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. He recommends taking frequent screen time pauses to give your eyes and your skin a much-needed break.
Try to limit your holiday snacking, especially the sweet stuff, as they can lead to spikes in blood sugar, which can contribute to acne warns Dr. Camp. “Foods high on the glycemic index, like holiday cookies, may trigger a hormone cascade that stimulates sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Increased oil production is one of the contributing factors of acne,” he adds. Enjoy your cookies, but don’t overdo it is all!
Hot showers might feel amazing, but they strip your skin of natural oils that keep it hydrated and can put you at risk for a skin condition called asteatotic eczema. “The term asteatotic means without or lacking oil and eczema is characterized by red, itchy, flaky skin,” says Dr. Camp. “Oil on the surface of your skin helps maintain the integrity of the outermost layer of skin and helps seal in moisture.” Tip: Keep your showers warm, but not hot and try to limit them to 10 minutes or less.