It’s the merriest time of the year and you know what that means…
Summer is but a distant memory and while the long, warm nights of ‘picnics’ (everyone bringing a variation of the same packet of crisps) in the park are behind us, we’re fending off invites to attend Christmas parties of people we forgot we knew but, after all, would be rude not to.
And while our social lives are ramping back up after a couple of lower-key months, we still have work to do and family and friends to hang with; and on top of it all: we have battle our way through malls and high streets to do so. Much. More. Shopping.
So without a summer tan to hide the fatigue, how to hide the (emotional/physical – pick your battle -) hangover?
The biggest culprit is the biggest organ: the skin. Dehydration is the number one enemy of healthy-looking skin so staying hydrated is the first priority on the inside and the outside.
If you had a late one and you weren’t planning to (it’s December, it happens) then an eye gel or cream (we like this Olay Deep Hydrating one) is your saviour. The skin around your eyes is 40% thinner than the rest of your face and there are no oil glands in that area to keep them hydrated so, you need to do it yourself. Keep it in your pocket and top yourself up on the race to the bus.
Hyaluronic acid, Niacinamide and B3, and Witch Hazel are all moisture superheroes and this gel has ’em all. Hyaluronic acid holds up to 1000x its weight in moisture, Niacinamide and B3 fortify the skin’s natural moisture, and Witch Hazel acts as an anti-inflammatory so waking up on a less-than-ideal amount of sleep won’t be so obvious. Store it in the fridge over night and in the morning it’ll be icy cold (eyce cream?) and even more calming. For extra luxe, start the day in your pjs, with a generous layer of eye gel, while getting through your cereal – à la Joel Golby.
It doesn’t even need to be a whole night. Adding an extra step into your shower routine can help you cheat your way to looking a little fresher and not like you’ve just rolled out of bed and are running on caffeine and willpower alone.
Exfoliation and hydration is the easiest way to do this. Put aside rough pastes (ouch) and go chemical. A chemical exfoliator means natural acids slough away dead skin and acne-causing oils. This all-in-one mask from Ole Henriksen, Glow PHAT, has polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) that brightens skin and smoothes fine lines after a big night out. The molecules in PHAs are bigger, or phatter, than AHAs – meaning they don’t penetrate the lower surfaces of the skin and all the attention is on the top level.
We gave this one a go on a particularly sleepy Monday night, and our faces looked a little less grey, a lot less sad, and more like they’d been the beneficiary of 9 hours sleep and 8 pints of water.
Follow it up with a rich moisturiser that will protect you from cold winter air and too-warm office heating. We tried this one and it boasts Vitamin C and Rose of Winter which is a popular ingredient in K-Skincare. Good enough for us.
If you’ve spent every day of December so far in a state of flux; shopping and partying both on rotation, you could maybe get away with half an hour of dedicated you time before you hop on a train back home. If this sounds more realistic for you then a facial is what you’re after.
Having a professional visage massage will de-puff, brighten, and plump your skin to give you a fresh-out-of-the-spa look that will last a couple of days.
Light Therapy facials involve the use of near-infrared light which is skincare’s latest must-have treatment. The Light Salon has an express 20 minute facial (that feels more like 60) for only £35 that cleanses, lights, moisturises, and massages your face in what feels like yoga for your face. The light therapy part of the facial lasts for just over 13 minutes and is lightly warming for your skin. After a thorough cleansing, goggles and a slim gel pad is placed over your face (don’t worry, there’s room to breathe) and you get to lie back and relax as though you’re on a warm Caribbean beach. Near-Infrared light is said to boost collagen production so even for a couple days after your visit, you’ll be a picture of health.
The massage part aids with drainage and puffiness that is a dead giveaway of hungover skin. With just the right amount of pressure, your face gets a light workout and you’ll leave with a face that looks at least two years younger. While you’re there you can even pick up a last-minute voucher for anyone on your list: an affordable price tag and a very luxurious experience.
If the socialising levels have been off the chart, you may need a little more time. An Oxygen facial at Crystal Clear is what you’re after: plumping the skin from the inside out, this is one that gives you instant results.
The skin is double-cleansed, exfoliated, then oxygen is used to penetrate the upper layers before the world’s smallest needles are rolled over your face to allow the serum that is applied to be immeasurably more effective (this sounds scary but it isn’t and doesn’t hurt at all). Then after a thick hydrating mask is applied, you can relax even more with an arm, shoulder, and head massage. Colin Firth and Jude Law are known fans.
After giving this one a go, we left looking at least five years younger and feeling five years less stressed. This is another one that makes a thoughtful gift for someone in your life who has everything and needs a bit of me-time. No one will leave here feeling anything other than elated. It’s available around the country from £75.