Is it even Christmas if you haven't been both skinned and baked alive in the space of an afternoon? A combination of fierce winter winds followed by blasts of central heating set to tropical, takes its toll on our skin.
Add to that a sharp rise in our sugar and alcohol intake and it’s no wonder many of us are human husks by the time the new year rolls around! That's where the Skin Nerd comes to the rescue.
Jennifer Rock joined Ray D’Arcy in studio to discuss the specific challenges Christmas presents for our skin and, crucially, how to combat them. Ray kicked off by asking if sugar was an enemy of the skin?
"It just causes so much inflammation and a lot of skincare whether you’re ageing early, whether you’ve got psoriasis, eczema, whether it’s irritation, redness, rosacea – a lot of that is actually caused by internal inflammation. The more anti-inflammatory you can be through your diet, through your lifestyle, the healthier your skin tends to be."
Boarding the sugar-elimination train over Christmas is not a runner for most people, The Skin Nerd included. Jennifer reckons a wee bit of common sense is the way to go. Tear into the tin of biscuits, just don’t eat the whole thing in one sitting etc.
Getting out and about for long walks helps to burn off all that sugar, but brings its own PSA; don’t forget the SPF: "People think SPF and they think summer. They think you’re absolutely bonkers if you talk about it in the winter, but it’s equally as important to protect against the harsh elements as it is against the sun."
SPF is essential to shield the skin and then once we’re back indoors, a good thick emollient (aka moisturiser) is key to keeping the skin hydrated and locking in any moisture. There are one or two other tricks it’s handy to keep in mind.
"Genuinely, you should gradually ease how you get back into the house and allow it to be too hot. It’s impossible if you have the big fire on and the family’s around. So what I would do is take water inside. Eat your essential fatty acids. If you have the choice of your nuts, your seeds, your fish, your oils, get those into your diet over the coming weeks."
Alcohol* isn’t exactly great for our skin either and given office parties, mulled wine sampling and yielding to every 'ah g’wan shur’, people can really see the effects after a season of revelry.
Luckily, there are one or two things that may help in the short term, before we re-calibrate our relationships with alcohol and sugar in January.
"If you’re someone who is prone to redness vitamin C is key, both internally and externally. Vitamin C serum, vitamin C oil can really help to pacify the inflammatory redness or what we call acute redness, caused by the tipple or two, or ten from the night before."
Alcohol also causes spots for many people and Jennifer has the perfect ingredient to tackle it.
"There’s an ingredient to look out for, you get it in so many different brands now, called salicylic acid. The word acid can terrify people, but your skin as actually acidic."
Listen to The Skin Nerd’s top tips in full, including tackling rosacea, sensitive skin and blotchiness on The Ray D’Arcy Show, here.
*If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can visit Ask About Alcohol.