Holiday Beauty
Exhale, October 1, 2006

Six Tips to Keep your Skin Beautiful Through the Holidays

by Dr. Michelle Copeland, D.M.D., M.D.

This is a challenging time of year, and it's not just because of the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season. It's also a time of year filled with parties, late nights and the all-too-frequent stresses of shopping and family obligations. And, with a lack of sleep, anxiety and an overabundance and indulgence in Holiday joviality, your skin may be taking the brunt of all that abuse. It's enough to make you want to hide behind a pack of reindeers.

It's a season of hope though, so there's plenty you can do to keep your skin looking great during some physically taxing months. Here are a few tips to keeping those cheeks—and the rest of your skin—as rosy, vibrant and healthy-looking as Santa Claus on Christmas Day.

It's very typical for the body to become dehydrated during this time of year, especially if you plan on attending Holiday parties where you'll be bombarded with pollutants such as smoke, dry air and any spirits you may be enjoying. When you're dehydrated, the cells and membranes that make up your skin may shrink, causing stress and fine wrinkles. To reduce such an effect, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoid caffeinated beverages.

With the harsh change in the weather, it's very common for your skin to become very dry and cracked, especially for those who spend a lot of time outdoors. At the opposite spectrum, those that spend a lot of time in heated indoor air without a humidifier can also suffer the same results. That's why you should moisturize frequently, particularly in the morning and at bedtime. And don't just focus on the face—use quality moisturizing products on your entire body for fresh and revitalized skin all over, which brings us to the next tip...

There are many moisturizes out there and the selections vary from outlet store discounts to very high-end products. What's important is not the name-brand or fashion appeal of your skin moisturizing products, but the properties and ingredients in it. For example, you want to be sure to choose moisturizing products that hydrate your skin and allow pores to breathe.

Some moisturizing products contain oil-based ingredients, which can actually clog your pores and diminish or cancel out any moisturizing benefit. Look for products that contain a good mixture of non-oil-based moisturizing ingredients and antioxidants that help skin look and feel healthy. For example, antioxidants such as lipoic acid, and Vitamins A and E are very powerful ingredients that help keep skin soft and supple.

The areas around your eyes are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of sleep deprivation and stress. Dark circles and puffiness are often the first warning flags that you need to take better care of your skin. There are many fine topical products that are specifically designed for the care and health of that part of your face. Look for ingredients like argireline and biopeptide (or pentapeptide) that help reduce wrinkles and promote firming of these sensitive areas. Also, make sure you use these products on a regular and frequent basis in order to see immediate and long-lasting results.

Another vulnerable area of your face that can be susceptible to sometimes painful cracking is the lips. It's important to use a good moisturizing product and wind protector for soft and kissable lips under the mistletoe. Look for something that also provides a high SPF protection from the sun. Lip enhancing products with argireline and pentapeptides reduce fine lines around the lips. Nicotinic acid and cinnamon provide immediate plumping, giving your lips a fuller look.

Lastly, if you'd really like to look svelte for the holidays, you can go a step further and consider minor, non-invasive procedures that require only a minimal time commitment and little or no time for recovery. Such interventions as Botox injections, fillers, microdermabrasion and a variety of safe, quick and effective non-ablative laser sessions help smooth and tighten. Thermage® (touted as the non-surgical facelift that requires no downtime) or Threadlift to rid your face of sagging skin, are feasible, even for those with heavy schedules. These treatments, which are performed by many physicians specializing in skin care, can go a long way toward making you feel and look great for the party circuit.

Dr. Michelle Copeland is the author of Change Your Looks, Change your Life. Her new book, The Beautiful Skin Workout: Eight Weeks to the Smoothest, Healthiest Skin of Your Life, will be available in May from St. Martin's Press. Dr. Copeland is Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and practices cosmetic, plastic and reconstructive surgery on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Visit or for more information on her line of specialty skin care products.