How to Tackle Christmas Breakouts

I know I am not the only hooman who has been not-so-patiently awaiting this season of joy, laughter and glamour. It will be a different, more pared-back year, there’s no doubt about it, but I will have my highlights redone for the 4 loved ones I will see, and that’s final! With the excitement of Christmas comes the dread of Christmas breakouts so in this post, we’ll be talking about how to tackle Christmas breakouts, talking about what may be causing them and how we can work to oust them for when 2021 rolls round.  

The causes of Christmas breakouts

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 infection is introduced, even from our own bacteria - particularlcutibacterium acnes, 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 and endometriosis are 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 actually usually a host of lifestyle factors coming together including stress, increased sugar intake, alcohol and sleep.  

 

christmas breakouts

 

Stress, especially prolonged or chronic stress, causes an increase in our stress hormone, 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 have an effect on our other hormones and that’s where we’ll see increased oil production. Stress also causes inflammation throughout us so get your bingo card off and mark off “inflamed spots”, “red spots” and “spots that don’t go away as fast”. 

Sugar, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do – speaking of sugar and ‘do’s, sugar does something not fabulous for our skin. A high-glycemic load diet full of white bread (yum), sweets and other sugar-filled foods means 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 glycemic 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 so get that bingo card out...  

Sleep and alcohol don’t have very direct effects on acne, and you may associate Christmas with plenty of sleep due to plenty of brandys, 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 blood stream. 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 breakouts  

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 its only once over the period.  

On the sugar front, let us be honest with ourselves again. This year in particular, 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!  

Whether you try to incorporate the above or not, what you need are some key ingredients to bring your skin back. Some nerdie guidelines before we begin: over-exfoliation by using loads of exfoliating acids won’t necessarily get rid of spots faster and can really just anger them further (as anyone who has had a sore lump and used glycolic acid on it will know), and you cannot complain if you don’t AT LEAST properly remove your makeup nightly.  

Skincare tips for Christmas breakouts 

My first tip is to not take a break from double cleansing. It’s tempting to climb into your warm bed, head aglow from mince pies and wine, but you will reap the rewards of dragging your bottom to the sink. Use the Cleanse Off Mitt to remove your makeup and follow up with your nourishing cleanser... I do not recommend acid exfoliation while tipsy as it’s impossible to remove it after 60 seconds and you may over-exfoliate.  

If you will be going home for Christmas and want to travel lighter, opt for a cleanser that will bring a tiny bit of exfoliation while being gentle enough to use AM and PM, such as Skingredients PreProbiotic Cleanse, Gallinée La Culture Foaming Face Wash or the Declare Soft Cleansing Enzyme Peel (a powder exfoliator that uses enzymes so is fine to use AM and PM).  

Another thing you’re going to need in your skincare toolkit is salicylic acid, our go-to exfoliating acid for oiliness and spot-prone skin due to the fact that it can penetrate into the pore and dissolve debris. You have loads of options here!  

If you’re a Nerd Networker, you can go for a mask like the Environ Clarity Clear+ Sebu-Masque, which combines salicylic acid, lactic acid and tea tree oil – it saved many a skin (literally) of Team Nerd last year.  

Otherwise, we are biased, but Skingredients Sally Cleanse is the way, with a potent 2% salicylic acid. It sounds like a low dose but it’s actually the most permitted for use in cosmetic retail products in the EU. Sally Cleanse is particularly fantastic if you only get spots on your chin, for example, as you can just use it as a Micro-Mask by leaving it on for 2 mins, or as a Spot-Zapper on very direct areas by leaving it on for 3 mins... And then removing it thoroughly in both cases.  

christmas breakouts

You’re also going to want to hydrate and reduce inflammation in the skin. Any serum rich in antioxidants and hyaluronic acid will help, but if the aesthetics of mask and slippers is appealing to you, you could opt for the IMAGE MD Restoring Post Treatment Mask. It’s developed to be incredibly soothing for those who have just had procedures, so it’s well able for you hammering your skin from within, with arnica extract, aloe vera, cucumber, chamomile and peptides. You’d nearly think of eating it, but I promise you, stick to your tried and true hangover methods, it ain’t for ingesting.  

If you’re a member of the Nerd Network, get in touch with us on NerdsApp or by email if you have specific queries about how you can tackle breakouts that you anticipate, our experts are more than happy to help.  

In general, this year especially, just have fun – even if it means you have a few more spots in January, spots are not the end of the world and they certainly are not more important than having some time to relax and reboot.  

Further reading: 

Top Nerdie Tips for Dealing with Random Breakouts

Does Diet Affect Acne and Spots?

When to see a doctor about your skin

Products in this Article

  • Skingredients PreProbiotic Cleanse 100ml
    Vendor
    Skingredients
    Regular price
    £24.00
    Sale price
    £24.00
    Regular price
    £0.00
    Unit price
    per 
  • Skingredients Sally Cleanse (100ml)
    Vendor
    Skingredients
    Regular price
    £24.00
    Sale price
    £24.00
    Regular price
    £0.00
    Unit price
    per 
  • Gallinée La Culture Foaming Facial Cleanser
    galinee foaming facial cleanser
    Vendor
    Gallinee
    Regular price
    £18.00
    Sale price
    £18.00
    Regular price
    £0.00
    Unit price
    per 
    Sold out
  • Environ Focus Care Clarity+ Sebu-Clear Masque
    Vendor
    Environ
    Regular price
    £48.00
    Sale price
    £48.00
    Regular price
    Unit price
    per 
  • Declare Soft Cleansing Enzyme Peel
    Vendor
    Declare
    Regular price
    £29.00
    Sale price
    £29.00
    Regular price
    £0.00
    Unit price
    per 
    Sold out
  • IMAGE MD Restoring Post Treatment Masque (50ml)
    Vendor
    IMAGE
    Regular price
    £54.00
    Sale price
    £54.00
    Regular price
    £67.00
    Unit price
    per 
    Sold out