Itâs an all-to-common conundrum come summer: youâve exfoliated, moisturised, worn sunscreen every day and followed your skincare routine religiously throughout the year only to have the madness of the festive season show on your skin once summer rolls around. A couple of late nights here, indulgent meals there, perhaps making the biggest beauty mistake possible â forgetting to take off your make-up before bed â and soon all these lifestyle changes can start to show up on your complexion as lacklustre, tired-looking skin. âThe festive season can bring about changes in our usual routine and may include drinking alcohol and eating out more, often at irregular times and âburning the candle at both endsâ,â says Sheryll Puku, national training manager for Elizabeth Arden.
âAlcohol, late nights, poor sleep, possibly an increased sugar intake, and often an increase in sun exposure during the festive season can all contribute to the free radical damage of not just your skin, but all the cells in your body,â explains award-winning doctor, author and pioneer in cosmetic medicine, Dr Catherine Stone of the Face Place. âYour skin is often just a reflection of what is happening in your body,â Stone says. Kerry De Villiers, Trilogy product research and compliance manager agrees and says that our lifestyle choices have a huge impact on our skinâs health. The likes of a poor diet, lack of sleep, stress and smoking can affect the flow of oxygen to the skin which slows the supply of nutrients and removal of waste she explains. âIt can result in the skinâs appearance looking dull and lacklustre and in turn, can speed up the signs of ageing.â
Stay sun smart
Nothing quite goes together like a festive season soirĂ©es and a good dose of vitamin D but Stone says that when it comes to the Kiwi lifestyle itâs really no surprise that it is the sun that does the most damage to our skin. âWe are an active country who love to get outdoors, and coupled with our high levels of UV due to the lack of ozone layer, many of us will age faster than our Northern European equals,â she explains. Stone says alarmingly, research has suggested that if we had no sun exposure, we wouldnât start developing the skin signs of ageing, such as wrinkles until or seventies or eighties. Not only will skin contribute to the appearance of lines and wrinkles, Stone says that excessive UV exposure is also a major contributor pigmentation, brown flaky spots called actinic keratoses, and skin cancer. âItâs important to avoid excessive sun exposure, and when you are out in the sun, wear sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen,â she advises. âDaily SPF is crucial all year round, not just in the summer months,â adds Puku. âUVA is prematurely ageing our skin every day no matter what the season.â
You are what you eat â and drink
But itâs not just exposure to skin-ageing UV rays that tend to take a toll on our skin once summer arrives. While many of us enjoy the odd tipple in the sun over the summer break, overindulging will give you more than just a sore head the next day. âExcessive alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on your sleep, your hormones and your mood, as well as your skin,â explains Stone. Stone, who recently co-authored Grow Younger with Great Food â a guide to healthy ageing inside and out, with The Face Placeâs own in-house wellness expert Jessica Giljam-Brown, is passionate about the fact that when it comes to healthy skin, whatâs on the inside is just as important. âThe skin is the last organ in our body to receive nutrition from the food we eat, and is the first organ in our body to lose that nutrition (through exposure to sun, pollution, wind and the environment), so itâs important to replenish it from the inside (with good nutrition, supplements and lifestyle) and the outside (with good skincare and medical skin treatments),â she explains.
An increase in how much we drink over the festive season is just one of the diet-related changes that can have an impact on skin health. âYou might find your skin breaking out more, as the alcohol puts pressure on your bodyâs normal detoxification systems,â explains Stone. âIt also damages your DNA through the increased production of free radicals,â she adds. âThe World Health Organisation recommends a âlow riskâ alcohol intake as no more than 2 standard drinks per day, with a minimum of 2 alcohol-free days a week.â Alcohol â or pepping yourself up with an extra cup of coffee after a late night â can lead to dehydration explains Stone. âDehydration means our cells canât function properly or communicate effectively with each other, and you are more likely to build up toxins in your body as you are unable to flush them out.â She suggests alternating a glass of wine or coffee with a glass of water to reduce the impact the two have on your hydration levels. âAnd always have a glass of water when you wake up in the morning.â
Smoking is a big no-no for many health reasons but as Stone explains itâs terrible for our skin too. âSkin becomes dull and sallow as the micro-blood supply via the capillaries becomes compromised,â says Stone. Puku says that while the early skin damage that is caused by smoking is hard to see she explains that the more cigarettes you smoke and the longer you smoke, the more skin damage and signs of ageing you are likely to see. âSmoking can speed up the normal ageing process of your skin by releasing free radicals,â she says. âIn addition, repeated facial expressions you make when smoking, such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke may contribute to wrinkles.â
Get your beauty sleep
Burning the candle at both ends often results in a lack of quality sleep which in turn can result in skin that looks both dull and tired. âItâs called beauty sleep for a reason,â says DeVilliers. âOur skin, like our entire body, has what is known as a circadian rhythm: a certain pattern of functioning over a 24-hour period,â she explains. Fail to get an adequate amount of shut-eye and it is likely that your skin will suffer. âSleep is the time where our body gets to repair and recover,â says Stone. âIf you are not getting enough sleep, then your body is less able to repair any damage youâve created during the day, from sun exposure, alcohol consumption, poor diet, over-exercising or smoking. Our skin is our largest and most obvious organ and will reflect our state of health, rest and wellbeing.â