Give your skin the day off
Late nights, a few too many tipples and an overload of beige food can combine to leave you feeling less than your best in December. Add harsh winds and minimal sunlight into the equation, and it’s no wonder your skin is suffering. But fear not, because this year, forewarned is forearmed. And we’ve spoken to three experts on the best way to achieve clear skin this festive season. Your secret weapon? Days off. Here’s how to maximise the ‘detox’ potential of make-up-free days to ensure you feel your best once Christmas rolls around.
Revive your complexion
Take advantage of a day off to keep your skin clear of make-up, advises facialist Chelseé Lewis, and try out her DIY facial routine. After cleansing your skin in the morning, exfoliate, then massage in some serum with your fingertips – upwards and outwards – for at least five minutes to stimulate blood flow. Lewis recommends choosing a serum with vitamin C to brighten the complexion and hyaluronic acid, which plumps the skin. Follow up with a sheet mask – leave it on for at least 15 minutes, then rub in the residue with fingertips.
Don’t have time for the full facial? If it’s not a hair-wash day, Lewis recommends popping on a face mask before you shower so it can work its magic while you’re washing your body.
If you need to remove facial hair, do this the night before, or at the beginning of your next pyjama day. This gives your skin a full 24 hours before applying any products or make-up to the area. And make sure it’s at least five days before any big events, to give any skin redness time to clear, advises Lewis.
The morning of the event, her top tip is to fill a sink with ice-cold water and ice cubes, then splash your face 20 times before applying your make-up.
Treat your hair
As with your make-up free days, hairdresser Karine Jackson recommends a gunk-free day off for your hair, too. That means no silicones, which sit on the hair; and no hair sprays, which can cause dryness and scalp irritation.
Focus instead on products that sink in and nourish your hair. If you’ve dry hair, wash first thing, and then apply a moisturising mask. Then pop your hair in a shower cap for the day while you’re safely at home and no one can see you looking like Gollum. The exception to this is if you have very fine hair – in which case, leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing off, says Jackson.
Using up your annual leave? Take advantage of a day off to get a haircut – a week before Christmas if you wear a choppy style, or a day before if you’ve a straight cut.
Up your vits
Get a head start by taking vitamin D and B12 supplements as early as possible, which help skin stay clear and hair stay healthy, says nutritionist Jenna Hope. Both are difficult to get in sufficient quantities from food (particularly if you are following a plant-based diet) or, in vitamin D’s case, when sunlight is scarce. ‘Supplements can take anything from two weeks to three months to work, so be patient,’ says Hope.
On days off, counteract those canapé and mulled wine nights with a healthy diet. A breakfast of eggs and avocado will sort out your vitamin A levels, while snacking on almonds and hazelnuts throughout the day will up your vitamin E – both nutrients are vital for skin health. Finish the day with a nutritious dinner loaded with fresh vegetables, beans, pulses and dairy, such as a lentil curry with topped with yoghurt – this helps to prevent inflammation in the body.
For the sake of your skin, as well as overall health, Hope recommends: ‘Focus on limiting your refined sugar intake, as excess sugar binds to collagen, the protein in skin which provides softness and suppleness, leading to dullness.’ Ditto fried food, which has the same effect.
She suggests taking milk thistle supplements throughout the party season to help repair alcohol’s effect on your liver. Lastly, drinking water – at least two litres a day – has an almost instantaneous effect on skin. ‘Adequate hydration should show positive benefits within a day or two,’ says Hope.