Since we’d like to avoid this situation, we’re determined to do whatever we can to stop the solar system of acne from erupting in the first place. We called Jeannette Graf, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, to find out if you can prevent a holiday breakout, and it turns out you can. So, follow the instructions of the good doctor and let’s see if we can enjoy a pimple-free holiday season, shall we?
“The time to prevent a holiday breakout is now, right before the holidays,” says Dr. Graf. “There's a lot of eating, drinking, being merry, and lack of sleep — which ensures that you'll feel like crap, look like crap, get dehydrated, and have dark circles. All of these are prime conditions for the skin to revolt and break out."
You know the first rule: Hydrate
Okay, water is the key to good skin. You know it, we know it. But, when you’re dashing between parties, who has time to add extra water or pack a bottle into a tiny holiday clutch? No worries, just double fist it. “For every glass of wine you have, have a glass of water with it,” advises Dr. Graf. “Be a two-fisted drinker. Alcohol dehydrates you, and that dehydration is a huge trigger for holiday breakouts.” She also recommends another tactic if you're someone who stares at her water bottle all day. “If you take a shot of water every half hour, by the end of the day, you’ll have had a gallon of water. You need to aim for at least three liters a day.”
The second rule: Get some sleep
Sleep deprivation doesn’t have to be a necessary evil this holiday season. “We’re all running around like crazy, but if you’re out late, try to work in a nap in the afternoon,” suggests Dr. Graf. Lack of sleep compromises your body’s ability to perform and process waste, which results in undereye luggage and, you guessed it, skin maladies.
The holiday party circuit is fraught with dairy-laden treats that taste amazing, but can wreck your complexion. “Avoid dairy,” says Dr. Graf. “I'd prefer you go with goat frozen yogurt if you really have to have a frozen treat. Studies have shown that milk and dairy products increase breakouts, especially skim milk.” She also advises switching to almond milk. However, if honey-wrapped brie is a holiday favorite, just manage the portion sizes. “Everything in moderation,” she counsels.
Change Your Feelings About Fruit
Many of us dive into a bowl of mixed fruits as a safe harbor when it comes to the buffet table. Not so fast, says Dr. Graf. “Stay away from large amounts of cut fruit. Whole fruit is better,” advises Dr. Graf. “Large amounts of fruit contain tons of sugar, which can lead to irritation and breakouts. It also bloats you.” Yikes. Dr. Graf advises no more than three fruits a day, and to eat fruit before you eat anything else. “Try eating food in the way it metabolizes so you get the maximum benefit: fruit and vegetables first, then heavier meats and complex foods." We’ll have the pears first, thanks.
Fiber Is Your Friend
The key to avoiding breakouts is to make sure all your organs of elimination are working smoothly, which means cleaning the colon regularly. “The colon, kidneys, lungs, and skin are organs of elimination. When one backs up, the others take over, and when the colon backs up, that means the skin starts pushing things out of the body. Hence, a breakout.” What does she recommend? “Make sure you maintain a good amount of fiber in your diet. Citrucel is amazing and the sugar-free version is fantastic.” Stir it up and drink it down for clearer, better skin. Bottoms up, folks.
Let’s say you’re not really a fan of water. How do you get that water into your body? “Squeezing lime or lemon into it helps, especially if you add a bit of natural stevia into it. It tastes like lemonade or limeade,” suggests Dr. Graf. Also, "eat" your water. “If you eat tons of vegetables and the appropriate servings of fruit, it’s a way to add extra hydration to your body,” she says. Stay away from colas and sodas, which are thieves of joy when it comes to your skin. “They’re the most acid-producing of all the drinks on the market,” says Dr. Graf.
Adding green juice to your routine is not only good for your whole body, it can give you mind-blowing skin as well. Tired of juices or can’t find your way to a Vitamix? “If you can't have a smoothie, a wheatgrass juice, or something [similar], take spirulina pills. They help the body remain alkaline.” The usual dosage is about six pills per day, but Dr. Graf recommends doubling that during the holiday season.
Do The D3
Did you know that vitamin D3 can help you fight off disease while giving you glowing skin? “Studies show that when it's used in high doses, vitamin D3 can help stave off colds and infections. It oversees the antimicrobial function of the skin,” says Dr. Graf. If you feel something coming on, she advises dropping up to 10 thousand units of it. Not feeling sick, but want to avoid colds and cold sores? “Two- to four-thousand units a day starting around 25 years old is the right dosage to keep yourself healthy.” We’re so online shopping for this right now.
Remember To Chill and Get Some Rest
The biggest culprit other than diet? Stress! “Yoga, guided meditation — any activity that helps lower your stress level will really help you relax and take the stress off your body. Stress is murder on the skin,” says Dr. Graf. Can’t get to a workout? “The simple act of staring at a candle and focusing on your breathing will help.” Anyone can do that.
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page!
Illustrated by Sydney Hass