This Is What All That Christmas Food Has Actually Done to Your Skin

Christmas might be well and truly over, but the after-effects of a season of pure indulgence might still be lingering on your skin. Breakouts, dehydration, and redness are all par for the course when it comes to weeks of consuming processed party food, cheese boards and countless selection boxes. And yes, whilst it felt good at the time, it definitely doesn’t feel so great to be paying the price with dull, spot-prone, sensitive skin weeks later. We caught up with Kate Bancroft, skincare expert and founder of Face the Future, to find out exactly what all that Christmas food has done to your skin, and how to combat it.

Firstly, is it even true that indulging over Christmas can affect your skin for the worst?

Sadly, yes. “There’s ample research that supports the fact that highly processed, sugary foods have a detrimental effect on the skin,” Bancroft tells us. Not only does this mean inflammation (the redness and breakouts you might see immediately), but long-term, it can also cause a breakdown in the production of your skin’s natural collagen and elastin, which means your skin will start to lose its natural bounce. 

“Sugar consumption can also exacerbate hormonal issues. We see many patients who suffer from hormonal imbalances or irregularities, and sugar triggers extra testosterone production,” says Bancroft. Whilst this isn’t good news for anyone, this is particularly troublesome for acne-prone and oily skin types.

Just like all of that party food, cheese and chocolate, alcohol is another culprit when it comes to sugar—especially in beer, wine and cider. “The bad news is that P. acnes bacteria thrives in this sugary environment,” Bancroft explained. “Team this with a little dehydration and skin soon starts to look dull, cellular turnover is disturbed, and areas of inflammation and congestion develop.”

Will our attempts at dry January do anything to counteract the effects of an alcohol-heavy festive period?

Whilst Bancroft believes it to be a great way to detox, she explained that “it’s important to remember that excess sugary foods and alcohol are never good for skin or indeed, our health. A better and more beneficial way to start the year is to avoid sugary excess on a long-term basis.”

So what can you do immediately if you’re suffering from a big New Year breakout?

Bancroft has three top tips: “Cut the sugar, drink plenty of water, and use skincare products that don’t aggravate the situation.” Opt for clean formulas that are free from sulphates and parabens, and choose products that are targeted towards sensitive complexion if you’re suffering from irritated and inflamed skin.

Now that you’ve (hopefully) brought your skin back into balance, what should you be bearing in mind for next Christmas that won’t involve you restricting those rummages in the Quality Street tin? “Take a good quality naturally sourced omega-3 to help reduce inflammation,” Bancroft recommends. “Consider a daily smoothie with a collagen sachet to ensure you’re consuming essential skin nutrients and plenty of vitamins.”

Of course, drinking lots of water goes without saying. But Bancroft also suggests adding a hydration supplement to boost your fluid levels: “Something like Rejuvenated H3O Hydration uses an ionic bond with water to transfer water through the stomach wall more quickly to promote a healthy fluid balance within the cells. It also provides all the key minerals for skin and ions necessary to create super-healthy and hydrated cells.”