With the dark nights upon us, it's time to mix up your beauty regime along with your wardrobe. Prepare your skin for the changing seasons now, to reap the rewards at your Christmas party.
What you need to consider:
Imagine a piece of paper. First, you expose it to hot light. Then, you hang it in a steamy bathroom. Then you dash out and leave it flapping on the doorstep in the frost. When you pick it up after you night out, that paper is now wrinkled, sagging and brittle in places.
The same applies to your skin. It has to cope with rapid changes in temperature, humidity and light. Whilst you are less likely to experience sunburn in the winter, you are more likely to experience flakiness, dry skin patches and irritation.
An unbalanced diet
With the cold comes the urge to comfort-eat, especially to combat the fatigue of dark nights or overwhelm from Christmas preparations. Alcohol is another stress factor. In addition to dehydrating your body, it also slows the absorption of essential nutrients, such as B1, B12, folic acid and zinc – all things that boost your immune system and skin. The same applies to processed sugar: it inflames the skin and stiffens the collagen you are depending on, to keep your wrinkles at bay.
Lack of sleep
Electric lighting is a wonderful thing, but it’s also easy to lose track of our biorhythms around it. As the nights draw in and the lights are switched on, you start lacking the natural end-of-day markers. Coupled with all the seasonal distractions supplied by our society and it’s not surprising you end up missing your normal, nightly bed-time.
Change your skin regime
This will vary with your skin type, but switching to a heavier moisturiser or even a nutritious oil treatment before bed will help your skin cope with the changing temperatures. If you are using more make-up than usual, make sure you invest in a good cleanser for the eye area – a prime area for skin problems and the one that is most overlooked when you are drunk, tired or in a hurry. It’s also worth continuing with a light sunscreen – UVA rays are apparent all year round, even if they are weaker in the winter.
Give yourself the gift of down-time.
Once a week, plan a low-key night in, with a replenishing mask, your favourite books or music and no screens. Turn in to bed early, drink plenty of water and let your body relax away from the Christmas onslaught. If you are on the verge of winter virus, doing this (coupled lemon and ginger tea, plus a few drops of lavender essential oil in your bath) can help to avert the worst of the illness.
Keep an eye on your diet
The explosion of sweets, cakes and soft drinks is a recent phenomenon (historically speaking). Go back a century and oranges were given out at Christmas as a sweet treat and you were more likely to be tucking into nuts than another chocolate indulgence. By moderating your sugar intake, you are less likely to suffer from energy crashes, mood swings and skin breakouts.
If you know you are going to be drinking at the Christmas party, have some recovery measures in place for afterwards. Increase your water intake, prepare a smoothie and give your body time to process the toxins.
Your party regime
The best possible skin needs a little advance work.
7 days before
– Up your water intake on a daily basis. Aim for 2 litres a day (6-8 glasses). You can set a timer on your phone to remind you or buy a water bottle for your workstation.
– Eat a piece of fruit or vegetable before reaching for the cookie jar
4 days before
– Use a hot-cloth oil cleanser and face mask. If you are prone to break-outs or irritation, this gives you time to fix them before the party.
2 days before
– Prioritize your sleep with a strict bedtime.
– Boost your nutrient intake with soups and smoothies
On the day
– If your face is feeling puffy, pop a cold-sheet mask in the fridge and put it on for five minutes before moisturising and applying make-up.
– For tired eyes, use chilled cucumber slices before gently massaging in your eye cream.
– Flaky lips? Use a home-made sugar scrub with water and brown sugar before applying a lip balm.
– Give your moisturiser enough time to sink into your skin before applying your foundation or concealer: it makes all the difference to the final presentation.