We’ve been down this road before. The holidays sneak up on us, our calendars begin to fill up, and before we know it, we’re schmoozing at parties every night, eating all sorts of sweets, downing fancy drinks, and leaving ourselves hardly any time to catch our breath—let alone take care of our skin. It’s a surefire recipe for disaster. But surprisingly, our bad behavior isn't the only thing causing flare-ups this time of year.
“A lot of it has to do with stress,” explains dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. “Rushing to finish everything before the office closes, coordinating family dinners, arranging travel—all of this has your cortisol levels reaching new heights, on top of seasonal weather changes that already have your skin on edge.” And with that wisdom, we knew we needed an arsenal of tricks (and products) to combat all the terrible things that can happen to our skin over the holidays.
To avoid ill-timed breakouts, we sought out advice from dermatologists, makeup artists, and nutritionists. To start, clean out any old makeup and swap in new picks, like our favorites from Almay.
Clean Your Makeup Brushes Weekly
Of everything in your kit, makeup brushes are the one thing you probably use every single day—all over your face. And if you're not cleaning them regularly, it's product buildup, dust, and grime you're spreading all over your face, too (not to mention breakout-inducing bacteria).
Wash your tools at least weekly, advises Margarita Lolis, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. (Editor’s note: Once you wash your brushes, make sure to dry them bristles down. Doing the opposite can cause water to seep into the base of the brush, warp its shape, and lead to even more bacteria buildup.) And don’t forget about the products that have built-in applicators, like Almay Best Blend Forever™ Makeup ($13). Not only is the foundation hydrating (it hydrates skin for up to 8 hours), but the removable sponge tip is easy to use.
Stop Touching Your Face
Whether you’re flying or driving, take note of where you’re putting your hands (and face). “When you touch different surfaces and then touch your face, you spread bacteria, and this leads to breakouts,” says Lolis. So be cautious: Avoid resting your face directly on an airplane seat. Clean trays and armrests with an anti-bacterial towelette, and wash your hands after touching public surfaces, Engelman advises.
Cover Your Bases (Lightly)
We’ve been conditioned to conceal imperfections, so going overboard can be easy. Fortunately, the fall season doesn’t mean you have to completely ditch your lighter summer formulas. “BB creams and tinted moisturizers are a good middle ground for people who are not comfortable going without coverage. A thin layer does the trick and still lets your skin breathe,” explains Engelman.
We personally turn to Almay Smart Shade™ Skintone Matching Makeup ($10), because the formula is lightweight and buildable with SPF 15 to protect from the sun, too. Bonus: Additional shades for deeper skin tones were just released on Target.com, so there are more options than ever to choose from.
Keep a Stash of Healthy Travel Snacks
When you’re especially busy, Amy Shapiro, CDN, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, suggests keeping a “travel bag” of healthy items on hand. This will aid you in making more mindful eating decisions on the go (instead of going straight for the gingerbread cookies). Some of her go-to items include apple cider vinegar shots, single packets of nut butter, oatmeal, nuts, and chia shots. Whenever you can, try and eliminate sugar and salt—this will help keep your skin looking bright and clear.
Drink Water All Day (Every Day)
Creams and treatments are helpful, but what you eat and drink shows on your skin the fastest, says Lolis, who challenges readers to drink only water from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day for brighter, more hydrated, and glowing skin. (We realize this can sound extreme. Ultimately, just try to drink more water.) Dehydrated skin not only looks older, but it can also cause blemishes, as dead skin clogs and blocks pores, notes nutrition expert Brooke Alpert, CDN.
In addition to chugging H2O, add a highlighter to your routine to boost lackluster skin. Mix a little of the liquid end of Almay Instant Glow™ Highlighting Duo ($12) with a moisturizer, BB cream, or tinted moisturizer. It'll enhance your features and give your complexion the perfect dose of radiance. Not just that, but it's hypoallergenic and won't clog pores.
Even When You’re Tired, Remove Makeup
Almay® Ultra Hydrating Makeup Remover Towelettes ( $6 )
If there’s one thing that gets makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci worked up, it’s when clients don’t wash their faces at night. “It puts your skin on the fast track to aging,” she says. “With all the cleansing options available, especially wipes [like Almay® Ultra Hydrating Makeup Remover Towelettes, $6], there’s no reason not to remove your makeup at night.” Not only do the pre-moistened wipes remove makeup, dirt, and oil, but they also hydrate skin with nourishing rice milk (safe for sensitive skin).
Tell us: When you’re stressed out, how do you keep your skin looking fresh? Shop more good-for-you picks from Almay.