15 Ways the Holidays Can Ruin Your Looks

6 minute read

By John Hardy

Blame it on running around. Blame it on the eggnog. Blame it on not finding a parking space less than a mile from the mall’s front door. Start a search today to make peace with all the ways the holidays can wreak havoc on your looks!

Just remember: Positive or negative, our holiday routine affects our body. One way or another, ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ takes its toll on our nerves, our energy levels and, ultimately, on our looks.

1. Weight gain

Some wise – and totally not Grinchy — nutritionists suggest a possible holiday-logic strategy: watch portions. Keep an approximate tally of treats you munch in that day. Be conscious of sugar content, without driving yourself crazy trying to keep perfectly accurate track.

You’ll get funny looks, but opt for cocoa over eggnog (aka the calorie atomic bomb). Nuts and sunflower seeds are among the healthiest small snacks you can munch. They both contain a high amount of vitamin E. Brazil nuts contain selenium, a mineral that improves skin elasticity and help battle skin infections.

Try a stealth holiday routine of an intentionally light breakfast to strategically allow for what will likely happen then rest of the day and night. There WILL be weight gain. The trick is to be aware and minimize how much.

2. Overindulging on sugary and greasy foods

Everything from the savory hors d’oeuvres to the sugar cookies, candy canes, phyllo pastry, quiche and other nibbly things, sugary brews, slices of cheesecake, fruitcake, pie and globs of bread pudding all have one thing in common: overindulging in them can cause breakouts.

Some aestheticians consider it skin abuse. It’s well known that breakouts along the cheeks and bridge of the nose are a side effect of sugary and fatty food. For help with the damage:  try a strict routine of mainly vegetables and protein (and avoid sugars) for at least one week before party season.

3. Busy days and sleepless nights

Squeezing-in crazy runaround schedules, concentrated doses of shopping and what people smilingly call ‘hustle and bustle’ catches up with the best of us. Naps or no naps, it causes sleepless (or sleep-disturbed) nights.

Sleepless nights are notorious for causing dark circles, bags under the eyes and a dull complexion. In the long run, lack of sleep can actually speed the signs of aging. Easier said than done, but at least try to make sleep a priority.

4. Less (but equally dangerous) sunlight

Blame the clock! Ever since the clocks turned back, the days get drastically shorter. Pretty soon, you not only go to bed in the dark, but you get up in the dark too. There’s more dark than light. Sunshine almost becomes an occasional bonus.

Skin care experts warn: don’t let the weather fool you. Even though UVB rays (the ones that cause sunburns) are less intense, harmful UVA that affect the skin are the same year-round. They can cause skin cancer and premature aging.

Don’t forget about sunscreen under makeup or use a foundation with SPF, particularly during holiday winter sports. If you’re concerned about your vitamin D intake, there are other ways to get vitamin D besides sunlight.

5. Stressed out skin

There’s no way around it. The holidays bring stress, money troubles, party pressures and cooking for lots of guests. Despite all the laughs, good times, visiting, and being with friends, it’s not uncommon for people to report being more short-fused and lower on patience than normal.

Holiday stress is much more than just a mood-buster. It’s proven that stress can lead to skin issues like acne and psoriasis flares, as well as hair loss.

6. Fading hair color

Whether it’s the holidays or just because it’s the end of the year, hair color can get a little blah. Maybe it’s natural color that has lost its summer luster, or maybe it’s faded old highlights or color.

Semi-permanent, at-home kits can create a subtle yet noticeable difference. Some tricks of the trade can make color jobs last longer: keep hair conditioned by using a weekly mask and avoid hot tools to maintain color.

7. Dull complexion due to cold air

Just as hair color fades in the winter, so does our complexion. Chilly conditions cause dry skin and the “sun-kissed glow” leaves our face.

Experts suggest a winter skin wake-up: a daily exfoliator to scruff off dead skin cells and an age-defying color corrector helps with a more even skin tone. Zinc found in some foods — like cocoa, chocolate, spinach, cashews, avocados, blackberries and turkey — can help reduce inflammation and bacteria production. Consider it a holiday bonus: chocolate also has flavonoids, an antioxidant that keeps the skin looking younger and more radiant.

Holiday chocolate caution: portions! Be conscious and try for no more than one ounce per munch.

8. Dry air = static hair

Holidays or no holidays, some can’t win for losing. Frizz in the summer, static in the winter. It happens.

Hair loses in the weather battle, but that doesn’t mean you’re resigned to ugly winter hair. Try being holiday-ready by adding shine back into hair: use shampoo that doesn’t strip out natural oils.

9. Nail damage from wrapping gifts

Eventually, the running around winds down and the shopping is all over. But that’s not the end of the holiday rush. Then the presents need to be wrapped! Working with scissors, folding, and wrapping can cause nail chipping or smudging of the new manicure.

The solution: base coat, two color coats and a top coat to seal the shade. Add one quick-dry drop to each nail to speed up drying time and prevent smudges.

10. Chapped lips from dry, cold weather

From skating and snowboarding to standing on a ladder and stringing outdoor lights, there are lots of reasons to be outside during the holiday season. Unfortunately, all that exposure to cold, dry air takes its toll.

Subtle or obvious, wind and cold can cause chapped or cracked lips. Keep hydrating balm at-the-ready.

11. Shopping-related sore feet

Hustling from the parking lot into the mall, going store to store on hard pavement or tile, rushing to get to the bottom of the To Do list and the frantic mingling and party-time — we’re doing it all on our feet! The price we pay is sore toes and soles.

Relax swollen muscles by rolling a tennis ball underneath the feet, from heel to toe. It restores circulation and soothes sore feet. A reflexologist can offer a professional foot rub, which can also help with migraines and back pain.

12. Hangovers

Some would rather call it a “rough night,” but we all know what that means. Overindulging in boozy treats during the holidays is liable to cause a hangover.

The basic (if corny) first rule is: drink in moderation. If that doesn’t work — and it usually doesn’t — then try:

13. Winter winds = dry skin

One of the worst curses of the holiday season is rough, itchy skin. Stress, dry air, cold, and frequent temperature changes can really do a number.

Exfoliating cleansers, antioxidant-rich lotions and body creams can help with dry patches, maintain a glow and generally keep skin hydrated throughout the holidays and through the winter. Keep a travel sized bottle in your bag for moisturizing on the go.

14. Stress-induced acne

The holidays—the stress, the sugar, the oily snacks—- mess with hormones. Layers of makeup can clog pores and can cause holiday acne. Besides, when we’re rushing around, time is tight and some people just don’t make time to clean properly or thoroughly.

Skin care experts suggest cleansing and moisturizing consistently and using a salicylic acid spot treatment to keep acne at bay. If all else fails, a good concealer is great to hide unwanted zits.

15. Booze-related skin problems

No preaching! Overdoing booze during the holidays affects looks, because it absolutely affects skin.

Alcohol is a diuretic. It dehydrates skin, and often makes skin look dull and feel dry. To reverse the damage, drink lots of water. The body needs to be sufficiently hydrated in order for skin cells to function properly.

John Hardy