Your Festive Season’s Face-Saving Survival Guide

Your December to-do list rivals Kaia Gerber, Theresa Hayes and Kendall Jenner’s Paris Fashion Week schedules courtesy of the onslaught of long family dinners, too many to count work parties and looong late-night dates, which are all fun, so long as you don’t wear their wear and tear on your face the next day. Here’s how to save face and survive the holidays, beautifully.


Unless you’re jet-setting south for the next four months, you’re juggling the freezing cold outdoors with the dry desert-like heat of the indoors all winter long. “It takes a toll on our skin,” affirms Dr. Paul Cohen a Toronto-based dermatologist at Rosedale Dermatology. Overexposure to diverse temperatures can cause water to evaporate from our skin “drying it of its moisture and often, making it crack. When skin is dehydrated, it is not radiant and doesn’t glow. Your skin will start to appear rough and dry, and your complexion will look dull and lackluster.”

Your skincare solution? 
Your skin’s natural oils are programmed to kick in and will lubricate your face by trapping moisture in the skin but it still needs a wing-woman, a.k.a: moisturizer. Hydrating your dermis with a lotion or cream containing humectants like hyaluronic acid and emollients such as vitamins E and A, shea butter and plant-based oils like rose help combat “the resultant transepidermal water loss and the shedding of the dead skin cells of the top layer of skin,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett a dermatologist at DLK On Avenue in Toronto. These products will also work to attract water to the dermis and lock it in. Make sure to “apply your moisturizer to wet or damp skin,” advises Dr. Kellett.“This will increase the absorption of it during the winter.”  And word to the wise: don’t skimp on the creams and fall into bed before applying them. For optimum health and glow you need to hydrate your face morning and night.

Try: Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream, $50, available at Sephora.


Popping bottles of champers and double dipping into the sweet and spiced eggnog is synonymous with the holidays, yet sugar plays havoc with your face. “The danger with sugar is that it leads to systemic inflammation,” says Dr. Cohen. Typically found in alcohol, carbohydrates and sweet treats, consuming excess sugar can have you seeing spots. “Sugar causes acne by spiking your insulin levels, causing inflammation throughout the body, which aggravates your skin,” explains Dr. Cohen.

Your skincare solution? 
Skincare products and treatments formulated with low levels of glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, AHA, BHA or retinol are your best bet. These ingredients help absorb excess oil, zap bacteria and heal the targeted areas. You can even use “a one per cent liquid retinol, which will give you the benefit of a vitamin A,” says Dr. Kellett. “But it should be titrated and applied into your moisturizer so that you can get the benefits without irritating your skin.”

Try: Neostrata Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Cream, $49 online at


It’s a known fact: the holidays can be stressful. There are too many events jammed into one month, expenses hit an all-time high and family dinners, well, they don’t always start with a happy toast. And when your body is stressed chances are it’ll manifest on your face. “Your body releases stress hormones including cortisol, which may increase the skin’s oil production, making you prone to breakouts” and other conundrums, explains Dr. Cohen. “Eczema, hives, rosacea and psoriasis can all be aggravated by stress.”

Your skincare solution?
Using products with anti-inflammatory lavender, peptides and antioxidants like vitamins C and E, helps and all ideal on aggravated and sensitive skin. “A vitamin C liquid with at least 20 per cent concentration can act as an antioxidant and decrease free radical damage,” explains Dr. Kellett.

Try: Idealist Pore Minimizing Skin Refinisher, from $75, available at Hudson’s Bay.


Between your mom’s tree decorating party, too many work cheers and romantic date nights to the Nutcracker ballet the last thing you’re getting is sleep. “Beauty sleep is a real thing,” affirms Dr. Cohen. And when you don’t get enough it shows. “Tired skin sags. You may have puffiness around the eyes or bags. Lack of sleep also causes blood vessels to dilate, causing the look of dark under-eye circles.” Not to mention, your skin cells are so worn out they can’t work efficiently to replace the old ones with new ones and that can leave you looking dull and droopy.

Your skincare solution?
Catch an afternoon power nap if you can, otherwise smooth fine lines away with a mask or balm loaded with ingredients like silk tree and horse chestnut extracts and hyaluronic acid to reduce dark circles, puffiness and wrinkles. “They deeply nourish your skin, helping it recover,” says Charmaine Cooper, the education manager for The International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica Canada.

Try: Dermalogica Sound Sleep Cocoon Transformative Night Gel-Cream, $108, available online at


Your mother told you to never fall asleep with your makeup on and she was right. Factor in a full day’s work and a looong night clinking glasses and you’ve created a recipe for skin disaster. “When you go to bed with makeup you are setting yourself up for clogged pores, because your skin doesn’t have a chance to breathe and recover,” says Dr. Cohen. “Your skin is covered in pores, which not only allow you to sweat, but also allow you to secrete sebum—the waxy lubricant that helps moisturize and protect your skin, as well as remove dead skin cells and other irritants.”

Your skincare solution?
We know it’s hard to not dump your clothes in a pile on the floor as you crawl into bed with a full face of makeup, and you can still do that, but here’s the work around. Keep a package of makeup wipes next to your bed and remove your makeup while you’re lying down. Residual makeup “contains ingredients that hinder the natural reparative process of the skin,” explains Cooper. “These ingredients include: artificial colours, artificial fragrance, mineral oil and lanolin.”

Try: Simple Skincare Kind to Skin Cleansing Wipes, $8, available online at

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