Despite what the Hallmark channel tells you, holidays don’t always involve clear skin and perfectly coiled hair. In fact, for most of us, quite the opposite is true. Although gathering with family and friends in the holiday spirit can be fun and uplifting, traveling, navigating everyone’s schedules, and even dealing with the loss of a loved one can turn holiday cheer into a headache.
It’s no secret that stress impacts your skin. For example, when you’re burned out, your skin can show it via dry patches, breakouts, and even rashes. And if you have a skin condition such as rosacea or eczema, stress can have even more of a noticeable impact.
So how can you reset your skin while dealing with holiday stress? We’ve got the guide to help you start over with your holiday skincare routine here.
How Exactly Stress Impacts Skin
The connection between your brain and your skin is more real than you might think. And research shows that the relationship is actually a two-way street—so while your skin can signal danger to your brain, your brain can do the same for your skin.
Let’s look at an example. Say you get too much sun exposure, so your skin signals to your brain that damage has occurred, which spurs the healing process where the skin turns red and peels.
But what happens when you’re stressed to the max—what does your brain communicate to your skin?
Psychological stress can trigger skin inflammation thanks to hormones such as cortisol (your fight-or-flight hormone), which can cause increased sebum production and irritation that can disrupt your skin barrier—also called the stratum corneum—and worsen existing skin conditions.
As if that wasn’t enough, stress can also impact skin mast cells. Mast cells are immune cells that reside in the skin and can produce stress hormones and inflammation when triggered by stress, which is what can cause dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, skin itching, and sensitivity that you may not have when not experiencing stress or anxiety.
So, what does this all specifically look like for your holiday skin? It can show up as:
- Acne and breakouts
- Dry, irritated skin
- Flare-up of existing skin conditions
- Itchy skin
- Increased oil production
- Rashes or red areas
Yikes—we bet none of this was on your Christmas list. But don’t worry; we are here to help you hit the holiday skin reset button with some tips and products!
Ready, Set, Reset!
Are you ready to reduce the effects of stress on your skin and start getting your holiday glow back? If so, buckle in while we review the top three things you can do to get ready, set, reset!
Show Your Skin Barrier Some Love
If your skin has suddenly become irritated, is breaking out, or dry and itchy, chances are your skin barrier is compromised. You can tell if your skin barrier is damaged if the skin feels tight, painful, flakey, or even feels rough.
To reset your holiday skin, you can first show your skin barrier some love. It’s pretty easy to do—say no to hot water when washing your face, say yes to rehydrating products, and keep your skincare routine simple.
More specifically, you should:
- Use a gentle cleanser with lukewarm water.
- Keep skin moisturized at all times.
- Avoid exfoliating (including chemical exfoliants such as AHAs and BHAs).
- Stay away from vitamin C and retinol.
If you can, go make-up free while your barrier is healing. If not, try to wear only make-up for an event and remove it as soon as you get home to allow your skin time to heal.
Look for Products for Sensitive Skin
No matter what your skin type is, stressed skin is stressed skin. Resetting your holiday skin means going gentle for a while and possibly avoiding your products for normal or oily skin until your barrier heals.
Look for products specifically designed for sensitive skin during this time. Anything that is fragrance-free and dye-free can be a worthy consideration. You may also need to swap your face lotion for a cream, which can be more hydrating and deliver more nutrients to dehydrated and damaged skin.
Once your skin barrier starts healing, you’ll notice that your skin is less sensitive and dry, so you can start introducing your regular products back in baby steps.
Some products to consider for your stressed skin:
- Carrot & Stick The Repair Cream
- Tata Harper Superkind Bio-Barrier Serum
- Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream
- Reactive Skin Essentials
Prioritize Physical and Mental Wellness
Your body and mind are not separate, so prioritizing physical and mental wellness can help restore stressed holiday skin and ensure your body has everything it needs to protect your skin barrier and heal.
We know it’s a tall order, but do your best to get enough sleep, drink enough water, reduce sugar, alcohol, and caffeine and eat healthily. Staying hydrated and getting enough sleep and nutrients can improve your skin health more than you might think!
It goes without saying that mental health also impacts your skin. Think about it this way—when you’re stressed, so is your skin. And the holidays can be immensely stressful, so while prioritizing your emotional and mental well-being may feel impossible, this is the most important time to do it.
Prioritizing your physical and mental wellness can look like this:
- Committing to a specific bedtime every night, no matter what you have going on.
- Saying no to events or gatherings that give you anxiety or cause drama.
- Trying to get some vegetables, healthy fats, antioxidants, and probiotics in your diet every day.
- Setting a limit for your alcohol, caffeine, or sugar consumption every day.
- Picking a certain number of events or places to go during the holidays and sticking to that number.
Get All the Details on Your Skin Type With Our Free Quiz
Our free skin assessment makes getting all the nitty-gritty details of your skin type easy just in time for the holiday season! Get YOUR best holiday skin by taking our quiz—it’s fast, free, and will have you glowing in the best way all season long.