Holidays can be fun but let’s face it, for a lot of us it can be a very stressful time and the result of this is often reflected in our skin. If you find yourself running around trying to get ready for holiday parties, stressed out about finding that perfect gift, dealing with sometimes difficult family dynamics, over indulging in rich foods, sugary foods or alcoholic beverages, your skin may be showing distinct signs of stress.
You’re not alone. This time of year many clients come running into Elizabeth Renee Esthetics skincare spa for an “emergency facial” to find out what the heck is going on with their skin. The most common concerns include a sudden tightness, dullness, dryness, blotchiness, eczema patches, puffy eyes, blemishes and flaking. Our estheticians are specially trained to recognize the signs of stressed skin and provide treatments and products that offer quick results.
Cold weather causes us to push up the thermostat. Most heating systems create desert dry air that sucks that valuable moisture out of your skin. Skin cells are dependent on moisture to stay alive, healthy and metabolically active. The lack of moisture causes cells to die prematurely, leaving skin feeling tight, dry and flaky. It also leads to the breakdown of your skin’s protective hydrolipidic barrier. Lacking this barrier means your skin becomes vulnerable to irritants, bacteria and free radical skin agers. Water always goes from greater concentration (in this case your skin) to lesser concentration (the arid air around you). So, naturally moisture is drawn out of the skin.
Your first step in improving winter dry skin is to improve the barrier function of your skin. That moisturizer that was perfect over the summer is just not going to cut it right now. Upgrade to a moisturizer that has more emolliency. My favorite moisturizer for very dry skin is Intensive Lipid Repair. This rich moisturizing cream contains ursolic acid, an ingredient that helps dry skin repair itself by stimulating your skin’s ability to produce more protective skin lipids from within. If you’re in love with your current moisturizer you might want to try adding a few drops of FijiGirl Facial Oil to increase its moisture holding emolliency. Sensitive or eczema prone skin should take a look at Environmental Protection which is a silicone based product that can provide a soothing and extra protective layer over your moisturizer. Silicone is good for this skin type because while it traps in moisture it lets the heat out of the skin. Heat trapped in your skin can be a problematic if you are sensitive or have rosacea because, when skin heats up it gets redder and more reactive.
You should also look at the other products in your regime. Is that gel or foaming cleanser too drying this time of year? Steer clear of anything that foams up on the skin or contains detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate that dissolves the skin’s protective barrier. Always follow cleansing with a mild alcohol free toner to remove drying chlorine particles and fluoride found in the tap water you used to was your face. If you use a cleansing milk you might want to try a little richer formula for winter.
For many skin types this is the time of year to tame your exfoliation routine. Replace that scratchy scrub for a silky cream exfoliant, based on gently exfoliating enzymes that glide on like a mask and subtly dissolve away dead dry cells – sans the irritating particles: a definite no no for sensitive skin.
This time of year it is even more important to get your eight glasses of water in daily. Moisturizers don’t put moisture in your skin, but hold in moisture brought in through circulation, and that moisture comes from drinking water. It’s also a good idea to set up a humidifier near where you sleep at night and for heaven’s sake wear a scarf or other protective clothing when you’re outside facing the elements.
It’s party time! Okay, so we all over indulge a little this time of year. First of all there are all those tempting sweets that require super human powers to resist. Keep in mind that sugar adds dramatically to free radical damage which accelerates wrinkles, and aging. Sugar also invites bacteria that can contribute to breakouts. Plus, be aware that eating salty foods, especially at night, increases under eye puffiness. Alcohol is a triple whammy for your skin. It’s full of collagen linking sugar (causing wrinkles). It’s loaded with free radicals and is extremely dehydrating when you over indulge. Plus it’s a vasodilator which makes sensitive skin get redder and reactive.
Combat free radical damage by upping your antioxidant intake. Try sneaking in extra antioxidants by eating more colorful fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants are in the pigment so dark green veggies like spinach or brightly colored berries contain lots of pigment and therefore lots of anti-aging antioxidants. Try upping your Vitamin C supplement. Vitamin C promotes new collagen production. Start applying a high potency antioxidant serum to your skin during the day. Sunrise Solution contains 18 of the most potent, state-of-the-art antioxidants including superfruits like Coffee Berries, Acai Berries, Gogi Fruit and Pomegranates. These are amongst the most powerful sources of natural antioxidants available today, especially against collagen glycation due to sugar and alcohol intake. Also keep in mind that balancing each alcoholic beverage you drink with a glass of water helps limit the amount of dehydration your skin will have to endure this holiday season.
LACK OF SLEEP
You might be exhausted. Not getting enough sleep can be the result of parties or holiday worries. Did you know that healthy skin depends on plenty of sleep? Most skin repair occurs during REM sleep. This is why we recommend most repair serums at night. When you miss this important stage of sleep you leave your skin vulnerable.
Try to monitor your sleep. Taking a cat nap during the day helps reduce stress hormones that eventually breaks down skin’s immune system. I can’t stress enough the importance of sleep, but when it’s just not happening try these repair tactics:
Give yourself a little massage. Spend a little extra time when cleansing your skin just doing little circles around your eyes and face with your cleanser twice a day. This gentle stimulation jump starts circulation to bring in fresh blood containing oxygen, water and important nutrients in to feed your skin.
Try an eye gel in the morning that you’ve left in the fridge overnight. The coolness tightens lymph vessels under your eyes to relieve puffiness and dark circles. Some of the newer peptides like Hesperidin (found in our Anti-Puff Gel) helps decrease blood from leaking through delicate capillary walls under your eyes. This decreases redness as well as puffiness.
Try using a repair serum at night so that the sleep you do get is productive at healing and strengthening your skin. My personal favorite night time serum is REVITALIZING Cell Therapy. Even though I’m prone to eczema I find this serum offers instant relief from dryness and sensitivity. Plus it has super repair factors that come from 5 internationally patented anti-aging ingredients. Over time your skin looks younger with improved texture and tone.
When under emotional stress your body exhibits a “fight or flight response.” What this means for the skin is that blood is drained away from the face to protect your internal organs. Stressed skin often lacks proper circulation and appears dull and sluggish. The increased stress hormone (Cortisol) acts similarly to testosterone which increases the likelihood of breakouts in some people and skin reactions in others and is a major contributor of premature aging of the skin.
The most important way to fight stress it to learn to be good to yourself. Find time to squeeze in that facial. One of the most soothing, hydrating and relaxing facials we offer is the Cold Fusion Facial. This super hydrating, anti-ager is just what the doctor ordered. Based on a Cold Fusion Masque which contains a hefty dose of Epidermal Growth Factors for super effective skin repair. While you’re here our expert estheticians will carefully examine your skin and make educated skin care recommendations based on your individual skin type. The Cold Fusion Facial includes a peel. Maybe the peel you need right now is our Smart Peel. The Smart Peel exfoliates with sting-free enzymes, leaving skin fresh and relaxed, hydrated and calm. Can you think of a better stress reducer? Studies show that taking time out to relax stimulates a stronger immune system so you are better able to handle the tough stuff. Don’t skip exercise just because it’s winter. Regularly (moderate) exercise causes your body to produce anti-stress hormones. Try yoga. Take a walk. Plan some healthy New Years Resolutions.
If your skin has become super sensitive because of all this stress and harsh weather conditions you may have recently developed eczema symptoms. For this you may need a medical prescription but in the mean time you need to look at your skin care program to make sure you have eliminated all possible triggers. Your esthetician can help you with this. Your esthetician can improve your regime, keeping in mind that eczema is made worse in winter because of the loss of the protective barrier. Once you have cut down to the bare minimum gradually reintroduce products to find out what is the most tolerable for your skin. I’ve had to do this myself and after several weeks I was able to build up to a minimal program of milky cleanser, alcohol free toner and simple moisturizer. However, my skin remained dry until I introduced Revitalize Cell Therapy which has helped my skin feel more comfortable and heal. I also found that using a Luminous Foundation worked wonders. I’ve eliminated anything that is drying (including all powder based makeup, especially powder shadows and powder blush.) I really love our Luminous Foundation because it not only feels more comfortable but gives off a younger, smooth moist look.
STRESS RELATED BREAKOUTS
Stress increases breakouts at the most inopportune times. If you have clogged pores they might not act up until the introduction of stress.
Try an LED Light Treatment. This facial uses light to stimulate skin repair. If you have problem skin, this treatment is perfect for killing aggravating bacteria that causes breakouts and encourages healing. In the winter, the over use of harsh acne products can be counter productive by increasing inflammation. Try treating your skin a little more gently. Take a look at these gentle blemish busting tips:
- Come in for High Frequency. This treatment flushes blemishes with bacteria killing oxygen. Acne bacteria is anaerobic – zap it with oxygen and it’s dead on contact. The best part is… if you are an Elizabeth Renee client give us a call and we’ll do it for free! It takes only a few minutes.
- When you feel that sore red blemish coming on, try applying a thick layer of over-the-counter cortisone cream on that spot as soon as you start to feel it. Then ice it for five minutes. Do this twice a day and sometimes you can actually miss getting the blemish.
- Try Clear Skin Solution. This is a great spot treatment. If you don’t like the experience of over drying and irritating your skin you can skip the caustic alternatives such as benzoic peroxide.
- Cover up with our Blemish Treatment Concealer. This concealer helps dry up and clear blemishes without the oily base that you’ll find in most other concealers.
- Update your exfoliation. Stress can go either way. Your skin can become reactive with red, sore blemishes. This means you need to skip that scratchy scrub for a pore clearing and disinfecting exfoliating serum like Getting Even which contains bacteria fighting Salicylic Acid. But… if stress causes your skin to get dull and clogged you need to accompany your Getting Even with a skin smoothing scrub. For dull, thick skin with problem blackheads or non-inflamed comedones try Clarifying Crystals (made with volcanic mud for a deep skin smoothing experience.)
UNDER EYE PUFFINESS
As we’ve already discussed, lack of sleep, poor food choices and alcohol can cause under eye puffiness. Here are some bonus tips for this problem:
** When using the Anti-Puff Gel keep the bottle in the fridge so you can apply it cold, but you can also take the cold glass bottle and roll it directly over the puffy areas to tighten the tissue and take down puffiness faster.
** Sleep with your head elevated and sleep on your back. This helps to drain lymph fluid away from your face. Leaving the eye area smoother in the morning.
** Wear a lighter eye creme. We’ve updated our eye cream formulas to be lighter because research shows that heavy emollients in eye creams actually hold water in the delicate tissues under the eyes, making them puffy. Check out EyeLift Brightening Creme for one of today’s most state-of-the-art formulations.
** Alcohol allows lymph to accumulate in the blood vessels under your eyes while you sleep. Drinking later in the evening causes a more acute problem. What can I say?
** If you have dry under eyes, try a primer under your makeup to make this skin looks smoother.
** Keep away from white concealer and keep highlighting products not too close to the eyes because these accentuates circles and puffiness.
KEEP AHEAD OF STRESS
Finally, when heading into the new year be good to yourself. Create some New Years resolutions like booking a “good for you” facial on a regular basis. You’ll not only feel pampered and more relaxed but your skin will thank you for it by looking younger, smoother. Keeping that glow will make you feel so much less stressed!