Christmas and acne survival guide
With the excitement of Christmas comes the dread of acne breakouts.
In this post, I’ll be talking about how to tackle Christmas breakouts and acne, talking about what may be causing them and how we can work to oust them for when 2022 rolls around. If you are experiencing PCOS or post-pill acne this advice will help you!
The causes of Christmas acne
Let’s talk about breakouts. When our sebaceous glands, our oil factories in our dermis (the living layer of the skin), create too much oil, it intermingles with dead skin cells to create plugs in our pores. If an infection is introduced, even from our own bacteria this is where we will see pus, swelling and redness.
Now, an overproduction of oil stems from an imbalance of hormones. If we make a few too many androgens, a sex hormone, this usually spells oiliness galore. That is why those of us who suffer from disorders such as PCOS are often more prone to acne.
So what is it about Christmas that ups this oil production?!
The secret ingredient in a great, uber-boozy Christmas pud is not androgens, don’t you worry. It’s usually a host of lifestyle factors coming together including
- Increased sugar intake
- Lack of sleep
- Dropping off on your skincare routine
Stress, especially prolonged or chronic stress and skin
Cortisol is released because of stress. Whether that is physical, mental or perceived actual or emotional; I am too cold, too hot, running a marathon, thinking of being hit by a bus, thinking of worrying about family scenarios at the Christmas table are all perceived in the same way, as a stress and our body release cortisol.
Cortisol is not a bad guy! It is always just trying to allow our body to manage stress as best as it can.
However, it can influence our other hormones and that’s where we’ll see increased oil production.
Stress also causes inflammation throughout, it is the type of acne-like “inflamed spots”, “red spots” and “spots that don’t go away as fast”.
Oh ‘sugar sugar – do, do, do, do, do’
Speaking of sugar and ‘do’s, sugar does something not fabulous for our skin. A high-glycemic diet full of white bread (yum), sweets and other sugar-filled foods mean our insulin spikes, and yes, this has a knock-on effect on our hormones.
Studies in the last 5-10 years have found correlations between glycaemic load and acne occurrence in both teens and adults.
Increased glucose levels and increased insulin levels can stimulate androgen synthesis and, by now, I’m sure you know what happens. More good news – sugar ALSO increases inflammation…
Sleep and booze
Sleep and alcohol don’t have very direct effects on acne, and you may associate Christmas with plenty of sleep due to plenty of brandy, ports, vinos, cans and maybe even shots. Alcohol does not allow us to have a properly restful sleep – you know yourself; you wake up and have strange dreams and then wake up again. A rested 7 – 8-hour sleep allows our skin to carry out its processes, including excretion, secretion, and nutrition – this is when our skin heals and ensures that oxygen and nutrients get to our dermis through our bloodstream. So, if you are looking grey, dull, spotty and dehydrated come the 2nd of January, now you’ll have a better idea of the culprit!
What can we do about the causes of Christmas acne?
It wouldn’t be very realistic for me to suggest you keep an eye on sugar, stress and alcohol intake. What I would suggest is carrying through any stress management techniques throughout the Christmas period – if you need a 30-minute walk or run, get out and do it. If yoga is your soul-soother, lock a door and take that time for yourself, even if it’s only once over the period.
On the sugar front, let us be honest with ourselves again. This year, it would be near-blasphemous not to be munching all Christmas long. So, satisfy your sweet tooth but opt for savoury whenever it will hit the spot!
With sleep and alcohol, if you can reduce the alcohol you intend on drinking, even by one glass, do!
Tips to get through the silly season
- Take care of your skin. As much as you want to climb into bed after a big day, wash your face, cleanse then rest.
- Wear sunscreen, 50+ and opt for a hat and seek shade
- Ensure you keep up your water intake
- Stay regular, ensure you move your bowels each day
- Honestly, don’t worry about the food, enjoy yourself! Christmas is a time to relax, socialise and enjoy the festivities. You have time to get on top of your skin.
Where to go from here
If you are struggling with your acne and this is something that is an issue not just during the Christmas period, reach out! I help women feel confident in their skin! When it comes to working together there are a few options to gain clear skin with a Naturopathic approach.