Left: Sheetal Rawal, scientist (human genetics) & founder of Apsara Skin Care
By: Katarina M.
Edited by Marty S.
Warm food, presents, family gatherings—it sure is starting to feel like the holiday season. As the festivities begin, it is easy to overlook how all the celebrations can have a powerful effect on our skin and hair. These parties can not only wear us out, but they can also make our skin and hair look much worse than before the holiday season started. Obviously, we want to look stunning throughout the entire holiday season, especially before a big party or get-together. As a result, there are a few things you should be more aware of. From the makeup we may put on to the extra stress caused by last-minute present shopping, here are eight tips to help you avoid easy downfalls and achieve healthy, glowing, and holiday-ready skin and hair!
1. Hydrate Your Skin So It Stays Nourished
our different organs and cells to helping maintain a normal physiological balance. After all, it is 60-75% of our body! Since we lose large quantities of water every day (from necessary bodily function processes), we need to make sure we replace it adequately. In fact, one study found that increasing your dietary water intake affects the skin the same way as a topical moisturizer! Similarly, a lack of water can result in the skin becoming dry, tight, and flaky. Not only this, dehydration can contribute to premature aging and wrinkles.
Therefore, this holiday season, women should aim to drink 2.7L (11.4 cups) while men should aim for 3.7L (15.6 cups) per day. Before you head out for that party or dinner, make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day so that your skin looks more youthful and glowing. Also, fruits and veggies that have a high water content can also nourish and hydrate your body and skin. Fill your plate with foods like spinach, celery, cabbage, strawberries, grapes, and apples, but don’t let these foods substitute your water intake completely. Hydrating your body from the inside and out is the best way to maintain good health and a fresh, youthful look.
2. Balance Your Sugar Intake to Maintain Firm Skin
During the holiday season, you’re more likely to run into sweets and desserts than usual. From gingerbread cookies and chocolates to cupcakes and candy canes, it is certainly difficult to resist the temptation! Perhaps understanding the negative impact sugar can have on your skin and overall health will make you rethink reaching for another cookie at that next dinner party.
No matter if it’s natural or processed, sugar increases inflammation, depresses the immune system, and in the long run damages the skin and internal tissues and organs. Knowing just this fact alone may make you think that it sounds like a poison! In fact, excess sugar intake initiates glycation in which sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins and forms harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Proteins such as elastin and collagen, which keep our complexion plump and youthful, are most prone to glycation and they become stiff and malformed. This results in skin that shows sagginess, a loss of radiance, wrinkles, and an increased vulnerability to other harmful environmental factors such as UV light and cigarette smoke.
It is difficult to completely avoid sugar since healthy foods (whole wheat, fruits, and vegetables) are broken down into glucose and gradually over time, the glycation process will inevitably happen. Yet, our diet and lifestyle choices still play an integral role in how our skin ages. Filling your plate with healthy staples filled with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants and drinking lots of tea (green, white, and black, for instance) can have less damaging effects and promote more youthful effects.
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3. Take Off Your Makeup to Unclog Your Pores
Going to all of these events and parties also most likely means you will be dressing up and along with that comes putting makeup on. Many makeup brands that are popular, unfortunately, have toxic chemicals in them. Stay on the lookout for chemical names in your makeup (for example, phthalates, lead, parabens, BHT, BHA, Quaternium-15, and other formaldehyde-releasing preservatives). If you can, look for toxic-free and healthy makeup products. Not only will you be doing your body and skin a favor but also the environment too! Furthermore, regardless of whatever makeup brand you use, always make sure to take off your makeup and follow a good night cleansing and nourishing skin care routine. Not taking off your makeup before bed can make your skin dull and more prone to acne.
4. Be Nice to Your Hair & Stay Away from Harsh Chemicals
Along with putting makeup on for the holiday season events, some of you may also be trying various hairstyles to complete your look. Using high-temperature styling tools such as blow dryers, flat irons, or curling irons can actually do more harm than good. These
tools can cause hair to become more damaged (even burnt!) and dry as well as increase widespread breakage of the hair shaft. Other hair techniques such as chemical perms or hair straightenings use chemicals such as ammonium thioglycollate, sodium hydroxide, and guanidine hydroxide. These chemicals can result in chemical burns on the scalp, hair loss, and decrease hair strength and suppleness.
If you’re thinking of surprising your family and friends with a new hair color, perhaps think again. Chemical dyeing of hair can irritate the scalp, slow down hair growth, and cause dryness. Instead, opt for dyes that use natural ingredients and try to leave a gap of 8-10 weeks for touch-ups. Rather than use permanent treatments that can aggressively harm your hair, choose semi- or demi-permanent options. If you have existing hair damage, use olive, almond, argan, coconut, or jojoba oil regularly as a hair oil to help strengthen and rehydrate your hair. Finally, making hair masks and using a shampoo with no harsh chemicals are another great way to give your hair a chance to rest and recover from the stress.
5. Find Time to Sleep & Rest Your Tired-Looking Eyes
This is a rather obvious one but more often than not we tend to overlook the importance of a good night’s sleep. During this holiday season, enjoy the festivities but make sure to find some time to rest as well! Sleep not only does wonders for our brains and bodies but of course, also for our skin. Sleep deprivation can result in puffiness, sunken eyes, dark circles, and pale, dehydrated skin. Sleep plays a restorative role for the immune system and can affect collagen production. Therefore, poor sleep quality and lack of sleep can also affect wound healing, skin hydration, and texture, as well as cause outbreaks of acne, eczema, psoriasis, and skin allergies. Avoid the consequences and get your beauty sleep! If you are still worried about under-eye circles or eye puffiness, invest in an all natural eye serum.
"I used [Apsara's Cucumber Eye Serum] and within a month, it significantly reduced my wrinkles and fine lines around my eye area. I’m super happy with the results. It’s worth every penny, and I highly recommend it."
6. Manage Your Stress to Keep Your Skin Youthful
Although the holiday season is usually filled with joy, love, and happiness, stress manages to creep up on us somehow as well. Our to-do list seems to get longer every year, especially once you consider how many gifts to buy, meals to prepare, events to attend, events to organize and host, things to clean, and perhaps places to travel and visit. We may get caught up in making it the perfect holiday for family and friends, only to find towards the end that it has exhausted us as well. Stress has a negative cascading effect on our bodies, mind, emotions and even people around us. When we are stressed, our endocrine system and immune system go into overdrive. Our body reacts with a “fight or flight” response and prolonged activation can result in chronic immune dysfunction, increased production of reactive oxygen species, and DNA damage. This last one is especially known to be associated with aging skin and tissues. All this inflammation contributes to skin issues such as acne, psoriasis, rashes, and hives.
Take time to decompress and de-stress during the festivities! Avoid unhealthy coping habits such as drinking, smoking, and bingeing on junk foods. Instead, there are plenty of easy ways to integrate healthier approaches into your lifestyle. Stay active and exercise, use relaxation techniques (yoga, meditation, soft music, deep breathing), or simply spend time with others. If you need more tips to decrease your stress, click here to listen to Sheetal’s podcast.
7. Go Easy on the Heating if You Want Your Skin to Stay Hydrated
Cold winter weather usually means that it’s time to find ways to stay warm and toasty. Unfortunately, increasing the temperature of our thermostats and electric heaters or sitting around the fireplace may not be the best approach. Believe or not, it is actually bad for our health and our skin. Naturally, they decrease moisture in the room, which can dry out skin and lead to irritation and itchiness. Close proximity to these sources of heat could cause accidental burns on the skin as well since some outer surfaces of heaters may warm up when they are used too long. Try keeping a bowl of water placed in your room to keep the moisture levels in the air in check. If you are really having a hard time parting with your electric heater, then add a humidifier to your home. It will add moisture to dry air and you will not have the same consequences as if you were only using the electric heater. Also, a programmable thermostat may be a good option since you can prevent temperatures from constantly staying high. Yet, one of the easiest and most practical ways to stay warm is to bundle up by putting on some extra layers or by piling more blankets when at home.
8. Protect Your Stunning Skin from Sun Damage & Free Radicals
We might assume that because it’s colder and gloomier during the winter holiday season that the sun is less damaging. Yet, the winter sun can be as damaging as the summer sun. UCR (ultraviolet radiation), UVB rays, and free radicals from sunlight damage DNA and in excessive amounts can result in photoaged skin, sunburns, and in chronic exposures, skin cancer. Make sure to eat antioxidant-rich foods that help protect against sun damage such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, green tea, turmeric, and asparagus. These foods are very effective in neutralizing cell-damaging free radicals. Even applying some of these foods on your skin can be beneficial too. Oh and don’t forget the sunglasses!
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Go natural. It is good karma!