Photo: Marcus Ohlsson

We’re all old enough to know that avoiding alcohol, getting a good night’s sleep and eating fresh, healthy food will help keep our skin looking its best. However, with Christmas week now turning into what seems like Christmas month (or longer), we have parties and festive catch-ups coming hard and fast. Other than being a bore for the whole of December, how can we come out the other side with minimal skin damage?

Let’s start with the golden oldies; we may have heard it all before, but that doesn’t mean ignore it – on the contrary, when rituals are repeated this much, then it’s time to take notice. You may not be able to ‘be good’ during the party itself, so make more of an effort in the days around it.

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Prevention is better than cure

Drink plenty of water (or herbal teas) throughout the day and ideally in between your cocktails during the party. One of the biggest issues with alcohol and salty party food is that they both lead to dehydration – any precious moisture that is left in your body gets diverted to the vital internal organs, leaving the skin literally high and dry. Prolonged periods of dehydration in the skin will mean the appearance of fine lines, a dull completion, dark circles and a weakening of the skin’s protective barrier function. A damaged barrier function will result in the skin becoming more sensitive, so it’s likely to go red and blotchy, and also means that if you do finally get enough hydration to allow the skin to get its fill, it is now not able to retain the moisture effectively – so the water evaporates through the barrier before the skin cells can use it.

My top tip is to use a rehydration product before you go to sleep. Most are effervescent powders that you add to water – they contain electrolytes and should be used as directed.

You are what you eat and your skin always reflects what you are (or aren’t) putting in to your body. When we’re feeling delicate after a party we crave comfort foods, which tend to be high in carbohydrates, fat, salt and sugar. Have one meal like this and your body might forgive you but to fall into a habit of unhealthy processed food and you will end up with lots of inflammation in the body. Inflammation for the skin means the breakdown of collagen and elastin and flare-ups of any underlying skin conditions like acne, rosacea and eczema. These days, 40 might be the new 20, but our collagen production and skin regeneration have yet to get the memo. Our collagen production, regeneration and cellular renewal naturally decline as we age, which is why we lose some of the volume and elasticity in the skin. So, don’t speed up this process prematurely by not monitoring what you eat and drink. If you know you’re going to be in a situation whereby you cannot be fussy about what you eat, then take Tribitor 15 minutes beforehand. It inhibits carb absorption, so it mitigates the negative effects of eating high GI carbs and sugary treats.

Get your beauty sleep. If you consider healthy skin beautiful then you need to sleep so that the body (and skin) can repair and regenerate. The more nights of sleep that are disrupted, the more compromised your skin will become. It’s not just a case of ‘Can I survive the board meeting tomorrow without yawning?’ it’s ‘Do I want blotchy, puffy skin and premature wrinkles?’ Hand me the eye mask, thank you very much.

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Photo: Getty

Quick tricks for skin emergencies

There are a few modern-day cheats. These don’t give you forever passes but could get you through a tricky week, occasionally.

If your skin is a bit blotchy and puffy then it’s time to freeze it, quite literally, with ice. Using an ice cube on your face improves circulation and reduces inflammation. Keep the ice moving in a sweeping motion for two-to-three minutes.

Use a good-for-your-skin foundation that can occasionally be slept in, without causing any damage. Oxygenetix foundation is aloe vera-based, so soothing, repairing and totally breathable, while Exuviance Coverblend foundation is lightweight, oil-free and packed full of anti-ageing gluconolactone. Both also contain SPF.

Upgrade your facials, as advanced skincare treatments can now be high-tech without being excessively aggressive. When you think about peels, lasers and other aesthetic skin treatments you may be thinking that you need lots of recovery time. That’s not the case with the majority of these types of treatments anymore. Modern laser treatments work on repairing, strengthening and supporting your skin. A stronger, healthier skin is able to bounce back from short periods of stress much more easily than unhealthy, compromised or damaged skin.

Many of my clients come to me with sensitive skin that flares-up easily and over several months I am able to use a variety of treatments to strengthen the skin and reduce marks like pigmentation and veins, while improving texture, brightness and skin tone. I quite often get told that something that would normally make their skin very red and agitated now doesn’t. For the party season, you do need to choose your treatments carefully as some do still have some recovery time. I recommend trying a booster treatment like the ones we offer from our D.Thomas Illuminate range. The Illuminate treatments use the best of science in a carefully designed, balanced 20-minute express skin booster.

This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.

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