Happy New Year!
‘Tis the season to be jolly. And of over-indulgence.
Even those of you that don’t drink alcohol may have succumbed to the delights of Holiday food temptations – the seemingly endless dinners, the chocolate, trifle, Christmas pudding, crisps and After Eights.
The three main culprits of the ‘Indulgent Season’ are alcohol, salt and sugar. Unless of course you’re a saint, juiced your way through the last week and wouldn’t touch an After Eight if your life depended on it, in which case, this post may not be for you and we all dislike you intently. 🙂
So: if you don’t celebrate Christmas but live somewhere with 4 seasons and your skin is feeling parched, or you work in an insanely hot hospital or a completely dry, warm, germ-festering classroom or you have overdosed on All I Want For Christmas is You and you’ve noticed that your skin is not itself and/or that your lips are so dry that they feel like they may split, this may help….
Alcohol: There are no two ways about it, booze is dreadful for your skin. It dehydrates you to the point of raisin-like status and if you are slack in your product usage because of the effects of alcohol, it will only get worse.
See also: redness/rosacea. If you are prone to reddening, alcohol will give you a helping hand to the point where you could easily understudy for Rudolph.
An alcohol side-note – the ‘healthiest’ booze you can drink is a Pinot Noir red wine from the California regions. This is coming from the liver specialists at St Mary’s Hospital in London, not me.
Salt: Puffy/bloated and dehydrated? Those heavy dinners, gravy and crisps may have taken hold. If you’re not particularly savoury inclined and your indulgences are of the sweeter nature…
Sugar: The Devil for your skin and your internal organs. That’s basically all. You may as well take a hammer and chisel to your collagen.
Take all three together and you may look in the mirror with some concern. Fear not. It’s easily fixed.
* Drink water like it’s going out of fashion. First thing, on the hour every hour and before bed if you don’t already. Rehydrate yourself. Give your skin a hand. Bear in mind this will give you clarity of mind and help prevent headaches, but how much water you drink sadly has little effect on the hydration levels of your skin. I mean it won’t hurt, but it’s not the cure.
I know this is particularly difficult for teachers. Do what you can, when you get a break.
Nurses: keep a water bottle on your station and keep it filled. (And as a side note, you are both saints. *doffs cap*)
- Stay away from foaming. Yes I KNOW I say this all the time anyway – but it’s particularly important when your epidermis already resembles a prune. Stick to oils/balms. Help plump up your skin and help it retain moisture from your very first step. Using a foaming cleanser on a dry, parched, dehydrated skin is akin to skin torture and is a skincare crime of the highest order. Please bear that in mind whenever you see the term ‘recommended by’ or ‘approved by’ dermtologists. Derms don’t do that for free. Someone is getting paid. Whilst I’m talking about dermatologists, this is also a time to step away from the electronic facial cleansing brushes. See previous comment re: endorsements.
(Sorry to momentarily rant, but I am frequently met with ‘But Dr so-and-so says it fabulous!’ when it was announced a few months prior in trade journals that ‘Dr so-and-so is now an Official Spokesperson for’ that brand. I’m not interested in calling people out personally, or starting arguments on social media – so I’ll just put it on here and be done with it. 🙂 Obviously I’m not suggesting that anyone who has ever made an endorsement did so just for the money – I’m just saying don’t believe everything you read at first hand.)
- Acid. Keep up with the acids. Dehydration means more build-up/shedding (eeww) so help it along with our trusty exfoliating toners.
- Spray florals. This is key and your best friend. You’ll be using these liberally over the next few days. Layer moisture between every step to give the feeling that your skin is hydrated. Fake it til you make it.
- Oils. I tend to only use oil-based serums or full facial oils when my skin feels dry/dehydrated. Silicone-based serums tend to roll more and don’t feel like they are doing their job. Wait a week or so before introducing them. (The easiest way to tell if your product is silicone based without the aid of the ingredient list is to apply half a pump to the back of your hand. If it absorbs immediately it’s silicone, if there is residue on the skin and the product seems to spread all over your hand, it’s probably oil-heavy.)
- Spritz again.
- Moisturiser. This is not a time for oil-free. You need it. Think of the top layers of the skin as a sponge that is emerging halfway out of a bowl of water. The top part is drying out and exposed.
A common mistake is to apply a thick layer of moisturiser. This is akin to applying a think layer of cold butter to cold toast. It won’t penetrate, it will sit on the surface and/or roll off. Don’t waste your product.
Apply just enough moisturiser on top of your oil/serum to give comfort to your skin. Wait a little while, spritz again, reapply a little moisturiser.
In scientific terms you would normally apply oil last as the molecules are bigger than those in moisturisers. However, for ease of wearing makeup and a non-sticky feeling on the face, I like to apply my moisturiser last. (See Routines Cheat Sheet here.) And in this case it’s nice to seal in the oil/serum.
If you’re still fortunate enough to be off work today/for a few days and don’t need makeup, or don’t wear it, you can repeat thin layers of moisturiser throughout the day. Cleanse as per usual in the evening and do your normal routine. Repeat tomorrow.
Lips: include your lips in your entire routine when they’re dry. Just be gentle…
Cleanse them, use your acid pads over them, even if it’s just around the edges, (if they are split it will sting like a mofo, go with your own feeling. And a warning – I have yet to taste a nice acid – eeww – again), use your oil on them, and use your moisturiser on them. Reapply a little oil on them as needed throughout the day. Between that and the increased water intake they’ll soon improve.
Thanks for reading. I wish you a happy, moisturised, plump, glowing skin for 2015. Now go drink a pint of water.
Find out how to look after your skin throughout the colder months on the Skin Rocks Column.