The most groan-worthy effects of overindulging during the holidays often center around the notion of gaining a few extra pounds—however, those tasty treats and seasonal cocktails can also wreak havoc on your complexion. We tapped a few of our go-to skincare gurus—Madison DeClercq and Leslie Kritzer of Mad Beauty, Susan Ciminelli and Allison Marks of Arcona—to educate us on the effects of such rich, festive fare, plus how to take a holistic approach to skincare this season so you’re left glowing and gorgeous. Remember, you are what you eat.
Stay Glowing This Holiday Season
Beware of simple carbohydrates such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, pies, cookies and cakes—according to Madison and Leslie, they rapidly break down into glucose and result in insulin spikes, causing a burst of inflammation in the body. Inflammation produces enzymes that eat away at collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging and wrinkly skin. Inflammation also causes flushing and flare-ups in acne, and has been linked to hyperpigmentation. Susan echoes this sentiment, noting that super sugary treats can aggravate rosacea. To the best of your ability, fill the majority of your plate with fiber and protein-packed dishes, and keep the simple carbs and sweets to less than a third of your total portion.
Consuming too much of the rich, fatty foods on many holiday menus has long-term effects, namely high cholesterol and heart disease. Furthermore, it takes a toll on your skin—Madison and Leslie note that when the circulatory system is not functioning properly, adequate amounts of oxygen aren't reaching the brain and other vital areas, including our largest organ: the skin. As a result, the lymphatic system becomes sluggish and skin can appear sallow and oily from excess fatty acid buildup. Good circulation is key to a glowing complexion. Again, limiting consumption of these rich dishes will help avoid such effects.
The liquid vice, when consumed in excess, shows telltale signs on the face. According to Allison, alcohol disrupts the body’s water equilibrium, as well as dilates blood vessels which often causes flushed cheeks. Try placing your skincare products in the fridge before applying for a night out, as cold assists in reducing redness. Madison and Leslie suggest taking an extra multivitamin, drinking fresh coconut water and eating a balanced meal (red meat specifically contains high concentrations of amino acids and B vitamins that help process the byproducts of alcohol) before before heading to a party.
Allison emphasizes the importance of maintaining adequate sleep—when the body is deprived of rest, it releases the stress hormone cortisol, which contributes to collagen breakdown. Combat signs of fatigue by giving yourself an at-home mini facial (a peel and mask) to maintain luminosity and keep skin lustrous. Madison and Leslie recommend partaking in an epsom salt and baking soda bath at least once a week during the holiday season, which helps relax the muscles and reduce inflammation.
Eating richer foods than you’re used to can wreak havoc on digestion, and when digestion is thrown off it can show up in the skin. Allison suggests taking probiotics daily to assist with keeping digestion on track, and Madison and Leslie recommend consuming more greens and fiber to help regulate.
An obvious piece of the holiday wellness equation is, of course, exercise. Susan notes that sweating out the toxins and shrinking your body mass with cardio will also help more immediately with residual, post-feast bloat. Additionally, exercise will release serotonin (a bodily chemical that regulates mood balance), which is especially important in holiday situations where emotional stress may be higher than normal. Feeling happy, healthy and balanced will reflect in your complexion.