Christmas party
Photo: Getty

With the festive season now well and truly underway, diaries are being filled with party after party. As fun as this time is, it can have a detrimental impact on our skin.

Here, nutritionist Aimee Benbow, BSc (Hons), MSc, ANutr at leading ethical vitamins company Viridian Nutrition, reveals the three party season habits that can disrupt the skin the most, along with advice on how to counteract damage.

The Christmas cocktails

The festive season often ignites a wave of social events that inevitably involve the consumption of alcohol. It is no secret that a sudden increase in alcohol intake has a negative impact on one’s internal organs however, it can also play havoc with our skin.

“Alcohol is one of the fastest ways to dehydrate the skin,” says Benbow. “It holds practically no nutritional value and will drain the skin of its essential oils and nutrients. Depriving the skin of moisture will see it appear dull, lacklustre and even aged.”

According to Benbow, it’s not just moisture that the skin is deprived of through alcohol consumption. “Vitamin A is a nutrient that supports the immune system and is essential for the eyes and skin. The excessive consumption of alcohol can rob the body of vitamin A and lead it to look dull and lacklustre in appearance. We obtain vitamin A from food sources as either retinol or beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is the best way to get vitamin A because the body converts it at the rate required, thereby eliminating the possibility of toxicity. If you have a jam-packed festive diary that involves a lot of alcohol, I would strongly advise taking a beta-carotene supplement in order to ensure that you do not deprive the body of essential vitamin A.”

Christmas cocktails
Photo: Getty

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We can also thank the sugar in booze for tainting our complexions. “Alcoholic beverages are often laden with sugar and are considered ‘high’ on the glycaemic index. Consequently, when we drink wine, beer and cocktails, we get a sudden spike in the body’s insulin levels. This spike in our sugar levels can trigger inflammation of the skin and even conditions such as acne and rosacea.”

High consumption of sugar means more bad news for those that enjoy Christmas cocktails. “Sugar binds to proteins in a process referred to as ‘glycation’ which in turn leads to the production of ‘AGEs’ which are responsible for overall ageing. Therefore, large intakes of sugar accelerate the ageing process and pave the way to premature ageing.”

Benbow adds that water is essential after an evening of alcohol to prevent dehydration of the skin. “Ensure that you drink plenty in the days after.”

Sleeping in your make-up

We have all been guilty of sleeping in our make-up, however it can be detrimental to the skin’s health. Benbow says it’s not only potential clogged pores and itchy eyes that can arise as a consequence of sleeping in your make-up.

“Sleep is not just a means to gain energy. Sleep allows the body to efficiently repair itself and aids in skin renewal via the growth hormone. Sleeping in your make-up will not halt the production of the growth hormone but it will serve as a barrier to its function, meaning that it’s less efficient.

“For instance, the growth hormone aids in cell renewal and works to push new cells up to the epidermis and shed the old ones. If you wear make-up to bed, the old cells are unable to shed and therefore the skin will lack radiance. Younger skin types exert a glow and a lack of glow and radiance can signal the first signs of ageing. Supplemental antioxidants such as Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) have been well researched to quell free radicals which particularly impact skin.”

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Hangover breakfast
Photo: Courtesy

The hangover fry-up

Excessive drinking often leads to fast food and a craving for a fried breakfast. It is a common belief that a traditional English breakfast is the best hangover cure and a heavy night out can often pave the way to an increase in appetite for several days. Many believe that food cravings and an increase in appetite is simply part of the parcel when you are enjoying a drink, however, there is science behind it. Alcohol urges the brain to release galanin, a chemical that ignites a craving for fatty foods. Even after a good night’s sleep after your night out, your galanin levels will be higher than usual.

“Consuming heavy amounts of poor-quality fats can result in outbreaks,” reveals Benbow. “Foods that are fried use high amounts of oil which are heavily processed and refined. This can lead to oilier skin and in turn, trigger outbreaks.

“You can ensure your skin is nourished with flax seed or hemp seed oil. These contain healthy fats, rich in omega 3, which are beneficial for skin tone and fluidity,” she says.

This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.

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