9 ways the holidays can ruin your looks

It's the most wonderful time of the year—right? The holidays are joyful, but with the cheer also comes chilly weather, out-of-town guests, stress, sleep deprivation, and more.

In fact, the holidays—a time when you want to be looking your party best—can be a potential minefield of beauty hazards.


Here are some of the grinches that might steal your radiance this season, and what you can do to stop them.

1. Weight gain
The holidays can seem like an endless parade of cookies, pies, special drinks, and traditional desserts. But a few smart moves can help you avoid holiday weight gain.

You can have your beloved cheesecake if you stick to reasonable portions and cut back on calories when you can.

Choose hot cocoa over creamy eggnog (a calorie atomic bomb!). Watch out for finger foods at parties, as mindless munching can add up. Have a light breakfast and lunch so you can enjoy all the holiday fare at dinner, and aim to fit in some exercise each day, even if it's just a brisk walk around the block.

2. Sleepless nights
Catching a red-eye to your relatives or setting a crazy-early alarm for shopping can mean sacrificing a good night's rest.

One too many of those nights (or even just one for that matter) can cause dark circles, bags under your eyes, and a dull complexion. Over the long run, lack of sleep can actually speed the signs of aging, and who wants that?

Now more than ever, you should make sleep a real priority. You'll not only look better, but studies suggest sleep can improve memory, help vaccine efficacy (as in flu shot!), and lessen weight gain.

3. Shorter days
When the clocks turn back, the days get darker sooner, and sunshine becomes a distant memory. For many, this also marks a time when they put away the sunblock.

Don't let the weather fool you. Even though UVB rays—the ones that cause sunburns—are less intense, harmful UVA rays are the same year-round. These can cause skin cancer and premature aging, so use sunscreen under makeup or use a foundation with SPF, particularly during winter sports.

If you're concerned about your vitamin D intake, there are other ways to get vitamin D besides sunlight.

4. Stressed-out skin
Unfortunately holidays often bring stress. Money troubles, pressure to host or attend parties, and cooking a meal for a large crowd are only some of the reasons you may feel tense this time of year.

But all that worry can cause more than just your mood to plummet. Stress can lead to skin issues like acne and psoriasis flares, as well as hair loss.

Take time to actually enjoy the season, and understand plans probably won't go off without at least one tiny hitch. Relax by the fire, get a massage, let someone else cook—just take some you time, and watch stress melt away.

5. Nail damage
You're finally done shopping, so you can kick up your feet and relax. But wait, all those presents need to be wrapped! Unless you have a little elf to do it for you, all that manual labor is sure to nick, chip, and smudge your pretty new mani.

At home, be sure not to skip steps. Each nail should get a base coat, two color coats, and a top coat to seal the shade. And add one quick-dry drop to each nail to speed up drying time and prevent smudges.

At the salon, try out gel lacquers. These use UV light to set polish, and last for an impressive two to three weeks without chipping.

6. Chapped lips
Winter sports like skating or snowboarding can cause chapped or cracked lips, but you don't have to head down a mountain to experience the dryness.

Even minimal time outdoors—such as stringing lights—can quickly cause parched lips.

As with skin anywhere else, lips need moisture too. Keep a pretty pout by hydrating with a balm. Add some cheer to your pucker by using one with a slight tint, or shine.

7. Sore feet
Even if you're mostly an Internet shopper, it's hard to avoid spending lots of time on your feet during the holiday season. Whether you're shopping or party-going, wearing the wrong shoes can cause painful swelling, blisters, and calluses.

Relax sore muscles by placing a tennis ball under your feet and rolling back and forth from toes to heels.

Still need relief? Think about visiting a reflexologist who can give you a professional foot rub, which can also help other stressors like migraines and back pain, too.

8. Acne
The holidays can put a damper on your normal morning and evening skincare regimens. Stress messes with hormones and layers of makeup can clog pores, both of which can cause acne. Plus, if you're short on time, you may not be cleaning skin thoroughly.

Pick up an over-the-counter cleanser, moisturizer, or spot-treatment with salicylic acid. Still can't ditch the zits? A great concealer can be your best friend, or check out a dermatologist's tips on how to pop a zit.

9. Dry skin
One of the worst woes of the season is rough, itchy skin.

Get your glow back by sloughing off dry patches. Use an exfoliating cleanser on your face and a scrub on your body, followed by a long-lasting rich body cream or butter, and an antioxidant-packed moisturizer for face and neck. Don't forget your hands!

Keep a travel size bottle in your bag for moisturizing on the go.

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