Why your skin is freaking out over the holidays and what to do about it.


Ah, the silly season. So silly, isn’t it?

We drink, we eat, we nap and eat again, dance and do all the fun things on weeknights we wouldn’t normally.

The other thing that happens around Christmas and New Year’s is your skin freaks out.

Depending on your skin type and age, a skin freak out could be anything from acne and pimples, skin sallowness and dull texture, to increased redness and irritation or a full blown eczema flare up.

Armed with knowledge we will most certainly be silly during the silly season, we asked three skin experts A) why our skin freaks out so much over the holiday period, B) what products you can use to help, and C) the only four things you should do if you don’t have time to look after your skin properly.

Why is my skin freaking out over Christmas and New Year’s?

Change. It’s the routine of all evil.

Not really, but lifestyle changes in your routine are the reason your skin is loosing its chops over the silly season.

Like changes in your diet,  consultant dermatologist Dr Andrea Tomizawa told Mamamia.

“The indulgent Christmas food typically involves eating more foods high in refined sugar. Food with a high glycaemic index – such as lollies, cakes, and sugary drinks – lead to high insulin levels that may provoke inflammation throughout the body. Insulin in turn increases the production of skin oils that can clog pores, leading to breakouts in acne-prone skin,” she said.

Dermal therapist (and dentist) from Dermal Distinction Dr Giulia D’Anna added, “Silly season means drinking more than usual alcohol. Alcohol is very dehydrating to our body, and the skin is no exception. When our skin is dry, fine lines and wrinkles are more evident, and capillaries rise to the surface as they dilate.”


“Aside from this, our skin cells can communicate really well with one another when they are bathed in water. As soon as we add a little extra alcohol to the mix, the cells begin to feel the effects of dehydration and start to struggle to talk to one another. This means that cellular waste in the skin is less easily moved to the surface, and any beneficial skin products we use, cannot translate down through the skin either. This leads to a build-up of contaminates within the skin, leading to a ‘freak out’.”

Put simply, Christmas pavlova or minced pies (it’s generally one or the other) and prosecco = dry, dull, thirsty skin.

Dr D’Anna also pointed the finger at a lack of sleep. Darn sleep, why so elusive?

“During sleep, our body does amazing things with hormones to help restore skin. When you don’t sleep well, the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol rises. Cortisol triggers inflammation, which in turn can make your skin easily break out and stimulate deterioration of the skin quality. Getting to bed late often means that people skip vital steps in the skin care regime too, which creates a double whammy effect,” she told Mamamia.

Side note – here are seven ways to help improve your skin while your’e sleeping, winning! Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

Among breaking routine with things like exercise and a healthy diet, getting lazy with your skincare routine also leads to unwelcome blemishes and sallowness.

“Around Christmas time, we wear more makeup and more irritating products on the skin, and you might not be so naturally inclined to take off your makeup,” dermatologist Dr. Li-Chuen Wong, Paediatric and Adult Dermatologist and Co-founder of Sydney Skin Clinic, told Mamamia.

Like a small child with a lollipop, take your skin’s familiar goodies away and it’ll throw a tantrum.

Best skincare products to use over the Christmas break.

Dr Tomizawa’s best advice for skincare products during the silly season is pick ones suited to your skin type. If you don’t know your skin type, get to know it.

“For acne and oily prone skin, its best to look out for products such as moisturisers and cleansers that contain active ingredients such as keratolytics. A keratolytic can act as a natural exfoliant, to help the new layer of skin underneath regenerate. This ingredient is helpful to target congestion and improve the brightness of your skin,” she said.

“It can also contain an ingredient with anti-bacterial properties to help eliminate bacteria that causes inflammation. Face masks are a convenient solution for people with acne-prone skin, and masks containing sulphur, like the Proactiv Skin Purifying Mask ($25), will help reduce inflammation and oil production.”


For people with combination or dry skin, Dr Tomizawa recommends a products with a soothing ingredient with hydrating properties such as glycerine that will help nourish the skin barrier.

She added, “If you suffer from dry and sensitive skin, look for soothing ingredients with hydrating products to help restore skin moisture. Ingredients as glycerine and natural botanicals with hydrating properties will help repair the natural skin barrier and prevent unwanted irritation.”

To restore a glow to your skin and pretend you don’t feel like soggy trifle, Dr D’Anna said hyaluronic acid serums are one of her favourite products for this busy time of year.

“These serums work to increase the hydration within the upper layers of the skin. Well hydrated skin means well functioning skin. For every molecule of hyaluronic acid, around 1000 molecules are water are attracted to the area. This does amazing things for reducing dark circles, allowing your other skin care ingredients to be able to travel where they are needed within the skin, and reducing fine lines and wrinkles.”

Dr D’Anna loves the PCA SKIN Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum ($158.84). La Roche Posay Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Serum Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate ($69.99)The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum ($12.90) and Voeu Age Regenerate Anti-ageing Day Moisturiser ($8) are also great savey options.


“Another favourite ingredient of mine is Vitamin B. The Vitamin B family is large, but there are some great skin care products that help deliver it exactly where is it needed. One of my must-haves is Aspect Dr Multi B Plus Serum ($129.80). Vitamin B has been shown to reduce stress levels within the skin, improve skin elasticity and reduce skin dryness and sensitivity. This is perfect to fight all the unkind party skin stresses.”

But I’m busy… and lazy. What if I only have time to do one or two things for my skin?

That’s OK.

Speaking to all three of our experts, we’ve concluded there’s only four things you really ought to do for your skin over the Christmas period. The rest can wait until January #newyearnewme.

Here are their recommendations:

Wear sunscreen.

Many of us around the country will be enjoying Christmas Day sitting outside in 30 plus degree heat. This means sunscreen is non negotiable.

“I really strongly feel around Christmas everyone forgets it’s summer, you must wear sunscreen. It’s the key to maintaining skin health, sunburn will pre-dispose to skin cancers but it’ll also make your skin look older,” Dr Wong said.

“Over 90 per cent of the signs of ageing and damage to the skin are a direct result of sun exposure, so therefore if you are skipping sunscreen, you are prematurely ageing your skin,” Dr Tomizawa added.

Dermalogica Pure Light SPF 50+ ($97)Ultraceuticals Ultra UV Protection Daily Moisturiser SPF 50+ ($79)La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Dry Touch SPF50+ Sunscreen For Oily Skin ($22.39)Avene SPF 50+ Face Emulsion ($23.49) and Cancer Council Daywear Face Moisturiser SPF50+ ($14.95) are great chemical sunscreen options.


Physical sunscreen lover, Mamamia’s executive editor and beauty editor of 15 years, Leigh Campbell enjoys O Cosmedics Mineral Pro SPF 30+ ($49)Invisible Zinc Sheer Defence Facial Moisturiser SPF50+ ($23.80)Medik8 Physical Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Physical SPF 30+ ($78) and It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50+ ($61).

Please note – you need two teaspoons of sunscreen product to get the full amount of protection advertised. If you’re using a tinted product with sunscreen, it’s best to layer on top of a sunscreen to be on the safe side.

You can learn more about the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens and which one is right for you here, and listen to the sunscreen episode of You Beauty below. Post continues after audio.

ALWAYS cleanse your face.

Being diligent and removing your makeup before going to bed is one of the easiest ways to give your skin a leg up during the silly season. Just do it.

“Always make sure that you use a cleanser morning and night to remove makeup, pollution and other debris. This sounds simple but it is such an important step to help keep your skin clean. And please don’t skip this step even if you are crawling into bed after a very late night,” Dr D’Anna said.

Make time for exfoliation.

Dr D’Anna also recommends adding a weekly light exfoliation if you can manage it during this time.


“Your skin will literally glow as the outer dead skin cells are shed. Not only that, but [exfoliating means] the other steps you take daily will have a more profound effect as the outer crust is lost,” she said.

Her favourite is the Aspect Fruit Enzyme Mask ($59). We also love good ole Alpha-H Liquid Gold ($60).

Apply moisturiser everyday.

Lastly, Dr Wong strongly urges us all to not forget about moisturiser.

“After the party season, you’ll regret not making time to moisturise. Not moisturising can cause your skin barrier to break, which takes 40 days to repair,” she said.

Taking the above into consideration, a typical routine could include:

MORNING: Cleanse, hydrating serum, moisturiser and sunscreen (do more in the morning when you have the energy/time).

NIGHT: Cleanse, moisturise and throw in an exfoliation every other night or once a week if you remember.

Now off you go, booze, eat up and enjoy the silly season. And just take your bloody makeup off at night, would you?

Love all things beauty? Come join our You Beauty Facebook group for more chit chat about things to put on your face. And body. And hair.

Want more beauty content? Visit our newsletter page and sign up to “You Beauty”  to get her best tips and products every week in your inbox (see one of her newsletters here).