How To Fix Post-Christmas ‘Box-Set Skin’

The good news is that by managing to blindly feel your way out of bed this morning, you are over the worst. The festive period is done, and with it the copious amounts of stodgy foods and alcohol. If you are anything like me, however, you may be wearing a unwelcome reminder of just how much fun you had in December, right across your face.

‘Box-set skin’, or the sudden breakouts many of us encounter after a solid week of eating cheese while watching series after series on the sofa, is back with a vengeance. If the state of my face this week is anything to go by, I grew a new spot for every new episode I watched on Netflix. Subsequently, I saw in 2018 with skin reminiscent of my early teen years, and I doubt I am alone in this. I’ll be laying off the alcohol for the next 30 days and think I’ve found a friend in the Votary Blemish Rescue Oil I covered my chin in last night (so far the most impressive spot treatment I’ve ever used), but if you’re suffering too, read on for the experts’ advice on how to get your skin back to its former pre-Christmas glory.

First up: the culprits

“Excessive amounts of sugar or any other white-fried and dyed foods have really got to be up there as one of the biggest culprits for causing skin eruptions,” says the nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik. “They affect hormones such as insulin, which can affect the skin, plus they also have a negative effect on our digestion, which means we may not be naturally detoxing as well as we could – which can often show up in the skin. Moreover, these types of food also form a process called glycation, which can prematurely age the skin, leaving it more susceptible to environmental damage.”

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Angry red spots caused by sugar-induced inflammation may be the result of simply having had a nice time last month, but back-to-work stress could also be an issue. As well as an overconsumption of food and alcohol, Kalinik says that a lack of sleep can also exacerbate the problem.

“Stress hormones such as cortisol can disrupt the entire endocrine system, which means you are a more likely candidate for hormone-related breakouts,” says Kalinik. “Getting enough rest should be a key mantra for the year ahead if you want to help to get your skin looking calm and collected too.”

What to eat

The first way to get your skin back on an even keel is by feeding it the right nutrients. “There isn’t a timeframe you can put on this and it depends on how your body was before you indulged a little too much,” says Kalinik. “That said, the body loves to be in equilibrium so once you start to nudge it in the right direction it will usually respond pretty quickly.”

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Happily, some of the foods Kalinik suggests you swap your Ferrero Rocher and Christmas cake for are actually quite delicious; sweet potatoes, peppers, butter, eggs, organic meat, nuts, seeds, broccoli and cauliflower are good sources of vitamins A, C and E, all of which will come in handy when trying to fix erupted skin. “They are important vitamins for skin health including anti-inflammatory antioxidants that support the turnover of healthy cells and collagen production, both of which keep the skin plump and youthful,” she explains.

Up your water intake and be sure to involve healthy oils in your diet too. “They are called essential fatty acids for a reason and since they are necessary for every cell membrane in the body, they play a hugely significant role in skin health,” says Kalinik. “Opt for more of the Omega 3s as we are generally more likely to be lacking in these and they are the most anti-inflammatory – you can find them in their highest amounts in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, organic grass-fed meat and chia and flax seeds.”

What to do

The facialist Kate Kerr says the location of skin problems caused by a sudden change in a normally virtuous diet will vary from person to person. “Acne breakouts are very specific to each person, their area of weakness and where their inflammation occurs – a lot can be down to hormones and general inflammation in the body too.”

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Targeted spot treatments can help, but Kerr says a wider approach is needed. “Useful ingredients on problematic New Year skin include salicylic acid for exfoliation and brightening, a hyaluronic mask for hydration and retinols to wake things up and give the skin a boost. A good massage will also help to stimulate lymphatic drainage and get oxygen and nutrients into the area.”

Kerr recommends ZO Skin Health Offects Sulfur Masque as a deep-cleansing mask to reduce redness and draw excess oil from the skin.

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How long until your skin is back to normal?

Lesley Reynolds of the Harley Street Skin Clinic says you can expect a return to your former self within four to six weeks. “It takes a full skin cycle to allow the cells to renew,” says Reynolds. “A skin detox is needed; AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) to renew the skin and encourage cellular turnover, peptides to stimulate the skin, antioxidants to mop up free radicals and hyaluronic acid to hydrate.”

From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK