The run-up to the Christmas break can often feel like a marathon so it’s no wonder many of us collapse at the finish line. It’s impossible not to overindulge with food or alcohol during the festivities and to park the better habits we usually stick to. Someone wise once said that guilt is a useless emotion, so don’t beat yourself up about the mince pie count or the amount of days you’ve spent vegetating in front of a screen – we all need a break. Plus, getting back to a better condition is simpler than it seems. So if the jeans feel tight, your skin is rebelling and your hair is feeling flat, we’ve got the solutions right here.
Put On A Fresh Face
You might be able to conceal a Christmas paunch, but a boozed-out face? Not so much. Alcohol is a diuretic (makes you urinate more) that’s high in sugar with hardly any nutritional value (not that it’s ever stopped us before). Add rich food and indoor heating and you’ve got the optimal formula for dehydrated skin, and possibly some break outs too.
“Alcohol starves your skin cells of water, meaning they don’t perform as well,” explains Inge Theron, the founder of FaceGym, the super-charged facial service that identifies “wine-face” as a concern. “Alcohol consumption causes dullness and inflammation and the effects can last a few days until your skin cells have started to normalise,” she says. But that’s not all, “it can also worsen skin conditions such as rosacea, acne and eczema as it increases inflammation. It causes the blood vessels in your skin to dilate, making the appearance of redness far more visible, and dilates the pores causing more whiteheads.” Broken sleep is also a common side effect, which also impacts the skin’s regenerative cycle, hence the attractive grey, puffy look.
The best cure for partied-out skin is rehydration and sleep, but if you want instant results leave it to a professional. The FaceGym facials are like an actual work out for your face, using deep tissue massage and non-invasive tools to release stress, tension and toxins through lymphatic drainage. The Party Face Workout (£130) is a deep-cleansing, vitamin-infusing, extra-hydrating treat for the skin that helps define contours and reduce puffiness. The Cryo Oxygen Workout (£90), meanwhile, delivers a quick shot of hyaluronic acid to the skin via a thermic shock, which increases oxygenation and circulation to improve firmness and appearance.
As tempting as it might be to just hit the sack, after a night of drinking make sure you follow your regular skincare regime. Add in a Vitamin C or hyaluronic-based moisturiser to help maintain the skin’s moisture reservoir, such as Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion. Take a supplement like milk thistle to help the liver process toxins, preferably before the first drink of the day. The next day, treat your skin to a Face Paint Peel (red for oily, blue for dry) by Dr. David Jack to restore balance to the depleted skin cells. Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion will also zap any zits overnight.
The following skin-saving products are worth keeping in your bathroom cabinet, too: a concealer to hide under-eye circles and spots, a BB cream (or tinted moisturiser) to make the skin look healthy, eye gel to deflate bags and self-tan for face to look more rested.
The Gentle Body Reboot
Gained an extra belt hole over the festive season? You’re not alone. The good news? It doesn’t require a radical regime change to fix it. Dalton Wong, performance coach and founder of TwentyTwo Training, is no stranger to whipping bodies into shape in a very short time frame, working with Rocketman star Taron Egerton and Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington. He is particularly adept at getting clients back on track after the holidays, so we asked him, what commonly happens to our bodies over the festive period? “There tends to be a heightened form of stress to compensate for the holidays. We can overeat and drink so we tend to gain additional weight around the middle due to excess carbs and booze,” he says.
Family gatherings often increase tension (as anyone who’s sat in stony silence around a turkey will attest). “Equally, when we are stressed we often don’t eat, then our bodies start to store fat and use muscle protein and the food we eat as energy. So we may not gain excess weight but lose some of muscle mass instead.” Most common, he says, is “more a general sense of wellbeing, feeling sluggish and a lack of motivation.”
The best news, Dalton explains, is “the most effective way to correct a splurge is to get back to your normal exercise and eating routine and to avoid any crash diets or extreme exercise plans as these are unsustainable.” If the “normal exercise” is what’s lacking, consider that your goals should be realistic. If gyms aren’t your thing, cycling, running clubs or outdoor swimming could be the ticket – and best of all, many are free. “It’s all about positive habits,” says Dalton, “make it a lifestyle not a resolution.”
Juice cleanses are popular this time of year but they can be expensive and there’s little evidence they yield long-term results. A supplement, on the other hand, such as Gabriela Peacock’s SOS Me 3 Day Rescue and Recover Kit, will replenish the vitamins and minerals depleted by the party season, support the liver and kick that sluggish feeling into touch – without leaving you so hungry you could chew your own arm off.
Hair We Go Again
Been stuck indoors? Central heating can suck the life out of skin and hair so if yours is feeling dry and in need of some TLC here are a few tips to help: keep the shower warm but not hot – this is less drying to both skin and hair.
Sometimes we need to hit the re-set button to breathe a bit of life back into flagging follicles. A hair or scalp mask and a good detoxifying or clarifying shampoo could be just the ticket. We like Kiehl’s Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment and Living Proof’s PhD Triple Detox Shampoo.
Finally, give yourself that “back to business” feeling with a fresh trim to put the spring in your step as you head back to the daily grind. Until then, put your feet up and grab another Quality Street – you’ve earned it.