The holidays can be bittersweet: all that fun and festivity can also come with stress, fatigue, and overindulgence. All of which can take a toll on your skin — from party-crashing pimples to dry winter flakes (and we don’t mean snow).
But we’ve got good news! It is possible to sleigh it this season and maintain a healthy glow. Here, dermatologist and SLMD Skincare founder Sandra Lee, MD (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) unwraps her secrets — sharing her top holiday skincare routine recommendations.
#1 Stay consistent
A skincare regimen doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, Dr. Lee’s a fan of keeping it to just 3 steps: cleanse, treat, and moisturize. She suggests a salicylic acid face wash for all skin types, followed by 1-2 treatment products tailored to your skin concerns, finished off with a lightweight moisturizer.
It may seem counterintuitive to use an exfoliating treatment during the winter months, but AHAs like glycolic acid and lactic acid actually help hydrate your skin while they’re sloughing off the dull, dry outer layers. Pay attention to how your skin reacts and adjust your exfoliating frequency accordingly.
Dr. Pimple Popper's Holiday Routine Recs
#3 Wear sunscreen
Yes, you still need to wear your SPF daily — because rain, shine, or snow, UV rays are always present. While you’re not as likely to burn during the colder months (unless you’re at higher altitudes), it’s the damage over time that leads to signs of aging like dark spots and wrinkles, says Dr. Lee.
It’s not just good party advice: incorporating humectants — ingredients that draw in and hold onto water in the skin — will help boost your healthy glow. Two of Dr. Lee’s favorites are glycerin and hyaluronic acid, both common in serums and moisturizers for face and body.
#5 Stock spot treatments
Nobody wants to wake up to post-party or holiday stress pimples, but it happens. Dr. Lee recommends keeping a few different types of spot treatments in your medicine cabinet: one with salicylic acid for non-inflammatory blackheads and whiteheads, one with benzoyl peroxide for red, inflamed pimples, and a patch to keep prying fingers away.
#6 Get enough sleep
While it may be easier said than done, it’s crucial to catch your zzz’s, says Dr. Lee. Nighttime is when your skin regenerates and repairs itself, which is why the term beauty sleep isn’t just a cliche. What’s more, sleep deprivation can lead to elevated cortisol levels, which in turn can amp up oil production and acne.
#7 Watch your diet
While the data is still a bit hazy, it looks like there could be a correlation between your diet and skin health. It’s a myth that greasy foods make your skin oily, but some studies have shown that the hormones in dairy products may contribute to acne — so if you’re concerned, go easy on the cheese board. If you notice that your skin gets upset after you eat certain foods, try not to use the holidays as an excuse to ignore those warning signs.
Dr. Lee's Last Word
I love the holidays, but this time of year can be a bit hectic! I always tell patients to try their best to stick to their healthy skincare routine. If you accidentally skip a night, just get right back on track. Enjoy yourself — but value yourself enough to practice moderation when you need to.