Silly Season Skin Survival Tips: our doctors share their top tips so you can look your best

Fiona Clark

Are you burning the candle at both ends during the festive season? Our SKINtellectuals share their tips on how to keep you looking your best.

It’s that time of year  when your social life looks like it’s taken on a life of it’s own with a seemingly endless set of social events. But all these late nights, parties and alcohol can take a toll on your skin, leaving your eyes with puffy with dark circles and your skin looking dull and dehydrated.

So, what can you do to make sure you’re looking your best when you’ve really been burning the candle at both ends?

Our SKINtellectuals have some advice. Let’s start with the eyes first.

Depuffing Puffy eyes

Dr Penelope Tympanidis, consultant dermatologist and owner of the Dermaperfect Clinic says a quick  fix for puffy eyes is a chamomile tea bag compress. Make yourself a pot of this soothing tea and once it has cooled either use the bag or soak an eye pad in the tea, squeeze off the the excess liquid and spend a good ten minutes or so relaxing with them on your eyes.

Dr Tympanidis says “chamomile great for reducing swelling and inflammation”.

The tea itself is high in antioxidants and it’s is said to soothe an upset tummy and help with sleep – which might also help after a big night out!


Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist at 55 Harley Street, says a hydrating eye mask is a must but adds there are some ingredients you should make sure they contain to ensure they’re effective.

“Eye masks are a good quick, temporary fix for puffiness and dark circles which can occur after lots of late nights. They are usually gel-like treatments which are formulated with hydrating and plumping ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, caffeine and colloidal gold. Must-have ingredients to look out for in eye creams consist of hyaluronic acid, ceramides, retinol, neuropeptides and vitamins C and E.”


Reviving dull looking skin

If your skin is looking dull from over-indulging in alcohol and not getting enough shut-eye, Dr Tympanidis suggests a quick and inexpensive home-made face mask.

“Beat a whole egg and apply it to all areas of your face and it leave till it dries.  Remove it with olive or almond oil.”

Eggs whites contain albumin, a protein which is great for tightening pores and helping control oil production and the yolks contain proteins and fatty acids that can help moisturise your skin. You could also add a squeeze of lemon for extra skin brightening – but avoid your eye area in this case. Lemon juice provides a light peeling effect and is high in the skin repairing antioxidant, Vitamin C.


Stay Hydrated

It may be easier said than done as all that alcohol, combined with cold weather and central heating is a recipe for dry, dehydrated, flaky and dull-looking skin.

Hydrating from the outside in:

Dr Christine Or, founder of Dr. Christine Medical Aesthetics in Kent, suggests treating yourself to a hydrating face mask containing hyaluronic acid to boost the moisture levels in your skin.

She also recommends using a humidifier in the bedroom at night to counteract the drying effect of central heating.

If you don’t have a humidifier, GP and aesthetic practitioner in Kinghtsbridge, Dr Unnati Desai recommends placing a bowl of water (preferably with rose petals in for their scent) near your heater, to help keep the moisture in the air.


Hydrating from the inside out:

We all know alcohol is dehydrating and while it’s hard not to have the odd drink or two (or three…) at this time of year, Dr Critchley recommends making every second drink a glass of water, or at least a soft drink.

The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic’s Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Adam Friedmann  says it’s particularly important for people with rosasea, acne rosacea, dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema to drink in moderation and have some days off.

Alcohol dilates the blood vessels and makes the skin red, which can exacerbate these skin conditions.

So, drink in moderation, drink plenty of water and have a few alcohol free days. Your body (and skin) will thank you for it in the morning.


Up the Anitoxidants

All that sugary food and alcohol does more than just dehydrate, it sparks a cascade of cell-damaging and skin-aging free-radicals, but upping your intake of anti-oxidants can help offset the damage they do.

To that end Dr Critchley has a novel twist for a festive G&T to get some antioxidants into that as well.

“Add a teaspoon of organic matcha green tea powder to your festive gin and tonic. It takes mere seconds but it will give you a potent antioxidant boost which helps protect the skin from free radicals.”


Dr Tympanidis adds: “As well as drinking lots of water have some citrus juices to help keep your antioxidant levels up.”

The water will help keep your skin looking plumper while the vitamins in the juice will help combat the damage caused by free-radicals that can age our skin.


Eat well!

Dr Adam Friedmann says “it’s tempting to over indulge during the festive season, but try to remember to eat well in between the excess.”

Just like slipping in a glass of water between cocktails, slipping in some healthy meals can also help restore the balance.

“It’s important to eat a healthy and balanced diet to maintain all one’s minerals and natural oils. Eat lots of vegetables and salads. These will soak up the free radicals and help the look and feel of the skin”, he says.


Getting some sleep

This too may be easier said than done, but trying to catch up on sleep in between the late nights is important.

Dr Friedmann explains: “At night the skin relaxes. It’s not under any stress so can recuperate after a hard day. Your skin cells go into regeneration mode, replacing damaged or dead cells with new ones. When sleep is reduced, due to lots of late nights, so is the body’s ability to carry out these functions.


“The skin itself doesn’t suffer too much due to lack of sleep, but the muscles around the face tend to be quite tired and can give the skin around the eyes a puffy, sallow appearance. A lack of sleep might also reduce the amount of Melanocortin going around the body and this can make the skin paler. A bare minimum of six-seven hours but ideally nearer to 8 hours would suit.”


Keep Calm and Stress less

All that planning, entertaining and the stream of visiting family and friends can cause stress.

It is a known fact that stress and exhaustion lower the immune system and can make skin worse, so try and not get too stressed out with all the extra parties and family get-togethers”, Says Dr Freidmann.

He recommends taking some time out for yourself and do something you know helps you relax.


Dr Critchley adds that stress can cause some people to breakout in spots but adds that “meditation and mindfulness both have positive impact on the stresses and strains of the Christmas period. They reduce the bodies circulating stress hormones such as cortisol which can trigger breakouts.”


Make sure you remove your make up – but gently

No matter how tired you are, falling into bed with a full face of make up is not a good idea.

“If you haven’t removed your make-up for a day or two you tend to be heavier handed to try and remove stubborn make-up that’s been on the face a while. This firm wiping action required can irritate the skin and encourage flare ups”, says Dr Friedmann.

“The very act of rubbing will usually cause blood vessels to dilate causing redness. Irritant eczema and irritation will come up red also. This will also often feel itchy or stinging.

“The under-eye area especially is very delicate, so you want to avoid harsh rubbing of this area. When removing mascara and eye make-up it’s best to gently place a cotton ball with remover over your lid and hold it there for a few seconds to help dissolve the product before wiping it away,” he advises.

“Once you’ve removed your make-up it’s always good practice to wash the face after using a foaming face wash with salicylic acid and then follow with a fragrance free moisturiser. This will help those whose skin is prone to acne and prevent the skin from drying out.”


Because your skin may be dry and irritated by the cold weather as well Dr Or suggests swapping hot water for luke warm water. This will help “prevent stripping oils from the skin. And you may need to switch to a more gentle cleanser in the Winter months”, she suggests.


Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise

Dr Mahto says the cold weather and the excesses of the silly season are a double whammy for your skin: “Your skin forms a protective barrier against the elements and one of its main functions is to prevent water loss.”

When it’s cold and you’ve been over-indulging “there is less production of natural oils – for example ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids – resulting in increased dryness, scaling, and flaking of the skin, so it’s important to moisturise regularly to combat this winter dryness.

“Moisturisers will bind and retain water, in addition to forming a protective seal preventing further water loss. For best effects, this is best done straight after showering and then throughout the day as needed.”



Dr Or says you may not need to exfolaite quite as often in Winter, but it should still be done.

“By removing  the top layer of rough dry skin cells, your skin products will work more effectively on the newer skin cells,” she says.

Avoid harsh scrubs though as these could irritate already stressed skin.


Exercise (yes, really!)

It may be exactly the opposite of what you feel like doing but getting some exercise is important as it increases the blood flow to the skin, which can really help your skin glow, says Dr Critchley.

“Stay Active! It’s all too easy to curl up in front of the TV over Christmas. My advice? Swap your after work Netflix habit for a regular exercise routine to ensure your complexion looks bright and you feel great!”


It may be cold and it may be grey but don’t forget your sunscreen.

“Wrap up well in a scarf and gloves to stop the cold wind drying out the skin, and always use a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB with an SPF of 30 to 50 every day,” says Dr Or.  “Even if it is cloudy or rainy, it will protect your skin from the damaging and aging UV rays.”


Night Time Skincare

Leaving the final word to Dr Friedmann – when you jump into be make sure the last thing you do is apply a good night cream with “a topical retinoic acid (vitamin A) to help smooth out fine wrinkles and blemishes.”

Vitamin A is a ‘desert island must have’ ingredient in your skincare – it promotes cells turn over and collagen production so the skin looks smoother, thicker, fresher and healthier.

Follow all – or at least some- of those and hopefully you’ll be looking your best throughout the festive season.

And here’s to a happy, healthy and enjoyable Festive season for you all!


At a glance

Dr Friedmann’s Skin Survival Snapshot: quick tips for rejuvenating your skin after a big night out:

1) Moisturising – this can include face masks etc

2) Recovering on sleep ASAP

3) Keeping hydrated with water

4) Eating anti-oxidants; detoxing smoothies and lots of fruit/vegetables

5) Ongoing sun protection – irrespective of the weather

6) Using a topical retinoic acid (vitamin A) to help smooth out fine wrinkles and blemishes


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