WITH fizz flowing, cheesy tunes blaring and mince pies aplenty, there’s a lot of indulgent fun to be had at the seasonal shindigs. But if you’re not careful, by December 25, your face will end up looking like a turkey that’s been left in the oven too long.
“Christmas parties mean a lot of alcohol, very little sleep, and possibly smoking as well,” explains consultant dermatologist Dr Penelope Tympanidis. “And as a result of wearing too much make-up (or from non-meticulous make-up removal) the results can mean puffy eyes, dark circles, dull looking skin, dehydration and spots.”
But help is at hand. We asked a group of gurus known as the Harley Street Emporium Skintellectuals for their top tips on how to protect your complexion against the ravages of party season. Here’s what they had to say...
Try a raw egg face mask
To brighten dull skin, whip up a quick home-made face mask, says Dr Tympanidis. “Beat a whole egg and apply it to all areas of your face and leave until it dries. Remove it with olive or almond oil.”
Egg whites contain albumin, a protein which is great for tightening pores and helping control oil production, and the yolks contain proteins and fatty acids that can help moisturise your skin.
Schedule a few early nights
“Try and catch up on sleep in between the late nights,” says Dr Adam Friedmann from the Harley Street Dermatology Clinic. Why? “At night, the skin relaxes. It’s not under any stress, so can recuperate after a hard day. Your skin cells go into regeneration mode, replacing damaged or dead cells with new ones. When sleep is reduced, due to lots of late nights, so is the body’s ability to carry out these functions. A bare minimum of six to seven hours — but ideally nearer to eight hours — would suit.”
Pop on a couple of eye masks
For Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin55, a hydrating eye mask is a must, but she says there are some ingredients you should look out for to make sure they’re effective.
“Eye masks are a good, quick, temporary fix for puffiness and dark circles, which can occur after lots of late nights. They are usually gel-like treatments, which are formulated with hydrating and plumping ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, caffeine and colloidal gold.
“Must-have ingredients to look out for in eye creams include hyaluronic acid, ceramides, retinol, neuropeptides and vitamins C and E.”
Skin Republic Brightening Eye Masks, £4.99 for three pairs, LookFantastic
Make a camomile compress
A cheaper alternative for refreshing puffy eyes is a camomile tea bag compress, which Dr Tympanidis says is “great for reducing swelling and inflammation”.
Make yourself a pot of this soothing tea and once the tea bags have cooled, squeeze the excess liquid out and spend a good 10 minutes or so relaxing with them on your eyes.
Don’t forget your 5-a-day
“It’s tempting to overindulge during the festive season, but try to remember to eat well in between the excess,” says Dr Friedmann. “It’s important to eat a healthy and balanced diet to maintain all one’s minerals and natural oils. Eating lots of vegetables and salads will soak up the free radicals and help the look and feel of your skin.”
De-stress not distress
Throwing a party yourself? All that planning and preperation can send your stress levels soaring.
“It’s a known fact that stress and exhaustion lower the immune system and can make skin worse,” explains Dr Friedmann. “So, try and take some time out for yourself and do something you know helps you relax.”
Dr Rupert Critchley, founder of Viva Skin Clinics, adds: “Feeling stressed or having breakouts? Meditation and mindfulness both have a positive impact on the stresses and strains of the Christmas period. They reduce the bodies circulating stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can trigger breakouts.”
Always remove your make-up thoroughly
It sounds obvious, but it’s not just the make-up residue that causes problems, according to Dr Friedmann: “If you haven’t removed your make-up properly, you tend to be heavier handed to try and remove stubborn make-up that’s been on the face a while. This firm wiping action can irritate the skin and encourage flare-ups,” he says.
“The very act of rubbing will usually cause blood vessels to dilate, causing redness. The under-eye area especially is very delicate, so you want to avoid harsh rubbing of this area. When removing mascara and eye make-up, it’s best to gently place a cotton ball with remover over your lid and hold it there for a few seconds, to help dissolve the product, before wiping it away.”
Eucerin DermoPurifyer Miccellar Water, €11.99, Boots
Go easy on the booze
“Excess alcohol consumption can cause blood vessel dilatation, which can make the face look quite red. This is because alcohol dilates the blood vessels and increases the cardiac output, so that everything gets redder,” says Dr Friedmann. “Anyone who already has skin disease (such as dermatitis or psoriasis) will often notice it worsening.”
On the nights you haven’t got a party in the diary, stay off the sauce and quaff plenty of water or herbal teas to rehydrate.
Up your antioxidants
Give your seasonal tipple a virtuous twist with an antioxidant-rich ingredient. “Add a teaspoon of organic matcha green tea powder to your festive gin and tonic,” Dr Critchley suggests. “It takes mere seconds, but it will give you a potent antioxidant boost, which protects the skin from free radicals.”
Watch your water intake
“Try and switch over to water or a soft drink in between alcoholic beverages, and pace yourself, as alcohol can cause dehydration of the skin and lead to facial bloating,” Dr Critchley recommends. Dr Tympanidis adds: “As well as drinking lots of water, have some citrus juices to help keep your antioxidant levels up. The water will help keep your skin looking plumper, while the vitamins in the juice will help combat the damage caused by free radicals that can age our skin.”
Slap on the sunscreen
“Don’t forget your sunscreen — even if it is cold and grey outside,” insists Dr Mahto. “Sunscreen isn’t just for the summer and should be worn throughout the year, as there is still damaging ultraviolet radiation around. Sunscreen should be offering protection against UVA and UVB, and at least SPF 15. Regular sunscreen use will help prevent against skin cancer and premature ageing.”
Murad City Skin SPF 50, €52.95