As if stress weren’t already responsible for our poor eating and sleeping habits, it also wreaks havoc on our skin: It may result in adult acne (the cystic type, which is the absolute worst); signs of early aging such as fine lines and dull skin; and exacerbating skin conditions in the form of eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. Stress directly affects how we look and feel because it causes our cortisol levels to rise, which breaks down collagen and elastin, making our skin break out and age. Yikes.
Why are we telling you this now? During the holidays, stress levels get turned up and our wellbeing takes a dive, so you may be extra prone to skin conditions related to stress.
We’re calling out the biggest holiday stressors and how to combat them so we can feel good inside and out—and get our glow back on!
Skipping the Shuteye
Between the office parties and the family get-togethers (not to mention a swipe-right, mistletoe meet-up or two), sleep can take a backseat to all the fun. Big mistake. Getting at least seven hours of zzzs a night is essential for our bodies to recover and repair. Lack of sleep tends to show up instantly as swollen eyes, dark circles, and sallow skin. Nighttime is also the best time for our skincare products to do their business. Take advantage by using a product such as Alastin Regenerating Skin Nectar, $195, which is packed with antioxidants to help support the production of new collagen and elastin. Layer it with the Soothe + Protect Recovery Balm, $40, to double down on the skin pampering.
Too Much Booze, Not Enough Water
Apart from affecting your beauty sleep, alcohol (especially holiday cocktails—looking at you, eggnog) is notoriously bad for our waistlines and our skin. All that sugar can cause skin flare-ups—and we haven’t even talked about dehydration. Stress does a number on the skin’s barrier function so we lose the dewiness of healthy, youthful skin. Add in alcohol, which is a diuretic, and skin can get Sahara-style desiccated. Eating omega fatty acids, found in salmon, avocados, and nuts can help re-plump your skin. And don’t forget the water. During a night out, remember to down a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage imbibed. Not only will you save your skin, tempering the hard stuff with H2O means you’ll avoid any morning-after “did I do that?” regrets.
Forgetting Your Skin Care Routine
Just because you’re busy with parties, travel, and shopping—not to mention family drama—it doesn’t mean you can let your skincare routine slide. It’s tempting to fall into bed after a late-night without taking off your makeup, much less doing your entire 10-step skin routine. But this is exactly when you need to be on top of your skincare. Between drying air travel, switching climates, jet lag, and bickering family, this is when you need to be showing your skin as much TLC as consistently as possible. Not following your usual skincare regime is the number one reason your skin acts up. Start with a clean face by using Alastin Gentle Cleanser, $45. The self-foaming cleanser is designed for the most sensitive skin. Follow with Alastin Restorative Skin Complex, $195, to plump and protect your skin. And even though it’s winter (in the northern hemisphere), you still have to use sunscreen. Try Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36, $55. It’s a lightweight, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a natural tint that works with most skin tones.
Forgoing Your Fave Self-Care Practices
It’s a universal paradox that when we’re most stressed, we forget the things that bring us the most joy and peace. Whether it’s yoga, meditation, knitting, boxing or sex, you have to keep up with your favorite self-care practices. Happiness practice reduces stress levels, which has myriad benefits, including glowing skin. It’s also great for minimizing illness because the last thing you want is to come down with a cold when you’re supposed to be feeling festive.
Even taking two minutes to deep breathe will calm frazzled nerves. Some other ways to unwind and destress: Journaling, aromatherapy, talking it out with a therapist, spending time in nature, an herbal bath, dancing, painting, getting a massage or playing with your pooch. While all of this self-care will make the stressful season more manageable, consider bringing some of these ideas into the new year. Stress happens year-round, but with an arsenal of healthy habits and self-care rituals, you and your skin don’t have to suffer!