Shopping. Cooking. Cleaning. Celebrating. It's the holidays, replete with food and drinks and too much to do on too little sleep, all taking place during a sometimes harsh, wintry weather season. The end result: Just when you want to look sparkly and terrific, your skin gets the holiday blues.
From dark circles under the eyes to a decidedly "green in the gills" complexion to bloated, puffy, swollen eyes and zits when you least expect it, for many women seasonal skin problems can abound.
The good news: Not only are there things you can do right now to ensure your angelic "glow" during this season, but there are also some cosmetic tricks and tips to keep your holiday glow going clear into the New Year.
The best place to begin, say experts, is with some preventive care, starting as soon as possible.
"If you think you're going to be partying a lot, start ahead of time to make your skin look healthier. Laser treatments can help do that, but so can topical creams, particularly serums containing vitamin C or creams containing retinol," says David Goldberg, MD, director of the Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey and clinical professor of dermatology at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
The better shape your skin is in as the holiday season starts, says Goldberg, the better you will look throughout the season.
What can also help: Increasing the moisture level in your skin, also starting as early in the season as possible.
"A lot of the skin stress that appears during the holidays, including some dark circles, can be the result of a lack of moisture, particularly if you live in a colder climate and are exposed to indoor heating," says Sumayah Jamal, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the NYU Medical Center in New York City. Once you begin drinking alcohol, she says, you add to the dryness, and even that extra glass or two of wine could push you over into another skin type.
One way around the problem, she says, is to trade up to a richer, more emollient moisturizer, beginning right at the start of the holiday season.
If you've been using a gel product, Jamal suggests switching to a cream or lotion. If you've been using a cream or lotion, switch to a richer version; try using a night cream during the day, for example. Or try a rich skin balm rather than a cream.
"Balms are products designed to offer optimum moisture, and they are excellent for buffering the skin against extreme dryness," Jamal tells WebMD.
For many women, the biggest holiday skin problem is not dryness but breakouts, even if they don't normally suffer from acne. The reason, says Goldberg, is that stress causes women to produce more of that traditionally male hormone testosterone, and it's those surges that give us the holiday zits.
"If you are prone to acne it could happen more frequently, but even if you have great skin, holiday stress -- or any stress -- can cause your skin to break out," says Goldberg.
His solution: Over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid treatments, placed directly on the pimple.