"Find out which festive treats are best and worst for your skin"
‘Tis the season for holiday parties and gatherings galore…and all the food and beverages that come with them. From cookie swaps to Christmas dinner to the office cocktail party, it seems that the stretch of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, heck, between Halloween and New Year’s, is filled with a nonstop onslaught of (admittedly delicious) treats and drinks. But overindulging can cause a host of issues, not only for your waistline, but for your skin, too. Your diet has a direct impact on your complexion, so while we’re all for enjoying yourself (within moderation), here are some suggestions as to what to snacks and sips to choose at your next holiday soirée to help maintain healthy, beautiful skin.
Yes, we said pie. Hear us out. Pumpkin is great food for your skin; loaded with beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body turns into vitamin A, it can help protect cells from sun damage. It’s also a good source of vitamin C, a vitamin lauded for its collagen-promoting properties, reaped both when it’s applied topically and ingested. Not to mention that both vitamins are also great immune boosters…and who doesn’t want a little extra immunity boost amidst the holiday craziness? Couple that with the fact that pumpkin is very nutrient dense and low in calories, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Granted, it’s still pie, but comparatively speaking, a small slice of pumpkin pie is a notable better choice than other pies, cookies, or candy canes.
You read that correctly, too. Chocolate can actually be a great option for your complexion. The caveat: You want to go with a dark chocolate, which has a higher content of actual cocoa than milk chocolate. Cocoa is where the goods are, namely antioxidant-rich compounds such as polyphenols and flavanols, that can help combat skin-damaging free radicals caused by exposure to environmental factors such as UV rays and pollution. It’s also rich in magnesium, a mineral known to help combat stress—see, there’s a scientific reason why eating chocolate makes you feel better! It’s well-known that stress can wreak havoc on your skin, causing everything from increased inflammation to dryness. So pick a dark chocolate hot chocolate, skip the whipped cream on top, and score even more bonus points if you opt for a non-dairy milk alternative (more on why you want to do that in a minute).
Not necessarily as exciting as the previous sweet treats, but feel free to go ahead and load up on the holiday dinner table staple. First and foremost, it’s a great source of lean protein, and protein is imperative for keeping your skin strong, healthy, and youthful. It’s also a good source of zinc, a mineral that can help with wound healing and similarly with acne lesions, as well as ward off early signs of aging, like wrinkles and spots. Let’s just hope that Aunt Edna doesn’t overcook it this year.
The creamy concoction features three of the most common skin saboteurs in the dietary world: dairy, sugar, and alcohol. There have been several studies linking increased dairy intake with acne, and, in general, dairy can be hard to digest for many people. The end result of this can be your body responding with hard, cystic pimples that form under the surface of your skin. Then there’s the sugar, which triggers inflammation throughout the body. In the skin, this translates to a breakdown of collagen and elastin, the proteins responsible for keeping your complexion firm and wrinkle-free. Digested sugar can even attach to the collagen in a process known as glycation, and create aging particles aptly called AGEs (advanced glycation end products). And, of course, the booze. Another inflammation inducer, it’s very dehydrating, never a good thing for your skin. Pass on the ‘nog and toast the season with a glass of antioxidant-rich red wine instead, and be sure to follow that with plenty of water.
Chocolate chip, gingerbread, oatmeal raisin, sugar—at the end of the day, cookies are a concentrated source of sugar (which, as mentioned, isn’t doing you any favors) as well as refined carbohydrates in the form of white flour. These carbs ultimately ends up breaking down to glucose, or basically even more sugar, once again triggering that problematic cascade. We’re not saying you need to go the rest of the year without having one holiday cookie, but this is a situation where limiting yourself will benefit your skin greatly.
They’re the centerpiece of every appetizer spread, but per the name, these are most often packed with dairy; it may be particularly worth avoiding these if your complexion veers towards problematic or acne-prone. Not to mention that what you dip in these dips (we’re looking at you, potato chips) are usually sodium-heavy foods. Too much sodium—particularly if you’re not well-hydrated—leads to water retention throughout your body. That’s why your fingers may swell and rings not fit or you wake up with swollen eyes and a generally puffy face the night after hitting the sour cream and onion dip too hard. A better bet: Guacamole, since the star of the show is avocado, filled with good-for-your skin fatty acids that keep your complexion moisturized from the inside, out. Ditch the chips for some vitamin- and antioxidant-rich veggie crudité and you’re good to go.
The bottom line: You can still thoroughly enjoy all the yummy treats the season has to offer and keep your skin in good shape just by making a few simple swaps and changes. Add a smart topical product routine into the mix, and you can be sure that you won’t end the year with less-than-stellar skin. The good news? Because our Skinsei diagnostic takes into account your diet and how it may be changing—not to mention all kinds of other factors, such as the weather and your stress levels—you can feel confident knowing you’re getting the exact products your skin needs at any given time of the year. Yes, even during the holidays.