It’s a scene played out across the nation every Sunday morning. You open your light-sensitive eyes to your bedroom. Last night’s purse is on the end of your bed, its contents spilling onto your doona.
Your club-appropriate outfit is strewn across the floor, beginning at your door. With a throbbing headache and cottonmouth, you drag yourself to the bathroom to assess more of the damage.
A dull, puffy face stares back at you in the mirror. You see dark circles and dry skin that – much like your mouth – is begging for a drink.
While the memories and dancing may be worth it, a hangover can wreak havoc on our skin.
To learn how to avoid (or at least lessen) the effects of hungover skin, we spoke with Dr Cara McDonald, a dermatologist and co-director of Complete Skin Specialists.
Why can our skin look lacklustre after a night on the town?
According to McDonald, there are a few reasons why our skin doesn't look its best after a night out dancing. The first is a lack of sleep. Our body uses sleep to renew and repair itself (including our skin cells).
Even if you get your seven to eight hours, alcohol can still affect the different phases of your sleep, meaning you may toss and turn or have broken sleep patterns throughout the night.
We may also indulge in sweet alcohol and fried, fatty foods (hello, late-night kebab) which McDonald says can cause inflammation in the skin, resulting in the puff we see in the mirror.
“Alcohol and sugar are toxins which overloads the liver, causing inflammation and cellular stress throughout the body,” McDonald tells Refinery29 Australia.
Dehydration (caused by a lack of water and dancing for hours) also affects the skin after a big night out. Last but not least, leaving makeup on overnight or skipping your normal skincare routine may further contribute to the lacklustre appearance.
Protect and support your skin
So, you have a big night planned and know your skin may suffer tomorrow. How do you protect it before running out the door? McDonald recommends skincare featuring antioxidants like vitamin C.
“This can protect the skin against some of the toxic effects of alcohol by neutralising free radicals and oxidative damage in the skin.”
Garnier’s Vitamin C Brightening Serum contains a blend of vitamin Cg (a potent derivative of Vitamin C that provides antioxidant protection), niacinamide and salicylic acid to reduce the appearance of dark spots and boost your skin’s glow. Pair it with the Micellar Vitamin C Cleansing Water when you get home from the club and your skin may not look as dull and dehydrated the next morning.
As well as vitamin C and antioxidant-filled products, a primer and moisturiser can keep your skin feeling bouncy and fresh. McDonald recommends leaving potent actives (like retinol) alone if your skin is looking irritated or inflamed.
Don't forget to enjoy yourself
Glow can also come from a fun night out and life-long memories made. Because while it's important to protect your skin, don't let it stop you from having fun.
By investing in well-made skincare and getting the right nutrition in the days before and after – well, you can have your cake and dance with it too.