Put a fresh face on for the new year ahead
After December's party season, many of us embark on Dry January, quitting alcohol and eating healthily as well as hitting the gym - hard. Have you ever considered, however, that you should be detoxing your skin, not just your liver?
"It's common for people to overindulge during the festive period," says Tracey Wilmot, training and education director at Murad skin care. But, she warns, all those glasses of fizz and tins of Quality Street take their toll: "Excess alcohol and high-sugar foods can lead to loss of radiance, dehydration and a dull-looking complexion."
On the other hand, you might be seeing more blemishes or blotchy patches. "If you're experiencing oilier skin, breakouts or the skin shows signs of redness or sensitivity, it could be time for a detox."
That doesn't mean going cold turkey on skincare - far from it - though there are some products you may want to ease off on.
"Depending on your skin type and the concerns you are looking to address, there are a variety of things you can do that will help cleanse and reboot your system internally and externally, to get your skin back in shape," says Wilmot. Here are seven ideas from skincare experts to get you started...
1. Use a clay mask twice a week
"A good clay mask can help draw the impurities out of your skin, unclog blocked pores, and revitalise a dull complexion," says Wilmot. "Look for kaolin clay or volcanic clay, which controls excess oil and deep cleanses the skin."
2. Drink lots of water
"Dehydration is often the biggest culprit during the holiday season," Wilmot says, "because alcohol not only dehydrates our cells but also causes blotchy red skin and exacerbates sensitivity and redness."
That's why it's important to boost moisture levels from the inside by drinking plenty of water, and 'eating' it in the form of water-rich foods. "Eating water-rich foods, such as apples and broccoli, not only hydrates the skin at the cellular level, but also delivers the nutrients needed for healthier skin. Add lemon to your water for a good cleanse and to help digestion."
3. Take a break from products
"Since the new year will be the dead of winter for those of us in the northern hemisphere, most individuals need to add hydration and moisturisation," says Dr Gregory Bays Brown, founder of ReVive Skincare.
"As such, I would suggest decreasing the frequency of products that can contribute to drying, such as retin-A or retinol creams and peels." That way, your skin cells can hold onto extra water you're giving them.
4. Declutter your skincare
"Start by detoxing your products and make-up," recommends celebrity facialist and laser specialist Debbie Thomas.
"Check use-by dates and throw away out-of-date products, as they lose their effectiveness and have higher likelihood of harbouring bacteria. Then check if you have products you just don't use. They can either be used on other body areas, or give them to a friend who's more suited to them."
5. Add an extra moisturising step
"We lose most of our hydration when we are sleeping, so it's essential to add a good moisturiser to your regime to help replenish and repair the skin," Wilmot advises.
If you don't already use a serum after you cleanse in the evening, consider adding one that contains hyaluronic acid (which helps your skin retain moisture), before your usual night cream.
Alternatively, use a face oil. All it takes is a few drops rubbed between your palms and smoothed over your face to get rid of flaky patches.
6. Exfoliate gently
"Exfoliation is key to a good detox, stimulating skin cell turnover and unclogging blocked pores," Wilmot says.
"If you normally exfoliate weekly, now is the time to step up to twice a week, to really accelerate the benefits. Look for formulas that have natural polished beads, such as jojoba, and a combination of hydroxy acids, to help condition the skin and restore that glow."
7. Don't forget SPF
"It's also important to not forget sunscreen," says Dr Brown.
"Even though the sun is less present, it can still have deleterious effects in the winter months." So, make sure a cream that's at least SPF 30 is part of your morning routine.