By FIONA BRAMZELL
While the holidays are a time of eating, drinking and much merry-making, the following weeks can leave us feeling less than our best!
Long after the gift wrap has been recycled and the last of the leftover turkey has been eaten, we’re left with subtle reminders of the excesses of the season – apart from those inevitable extra pounds we may have gained, our skin and hair are often left looking and feeling dry, dull and in general need of some post-party TLC.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to get back on track – a few small changes to your diet and skincare routine will make those excess behaviours seem like ghosts of Christmas past!
Get on the Wagon
While a New Year’s Day hangover may have made you swear off alcohol for good, abstaining for at least the month of January is a good idea. Going temporarily teetotal not only gives your liver a rest from processing what is essentially a toxic substance, but also allows your skin to recoup some much needed hydration.
Puffiness, inflammation, breakouts and redness are all signs that you’ve been overdoing it but can be helped by increasing your water intake (aim for eight glasses a day) preferably with a squeeze of lemon to really help boost the detox process.
Certain herb and vitamin supplements are particularly beneficial at this time of year; according to Mary Choi, a naturopathic doctor and owner of Soma and Soul Wellness in the Upper Beach (http://somaandsoul.ca/) detoxification also takes place in the bowels, skin and lymphatics and recommends dandelion, artichoke, milk thistle, burdock, B vitamins and the mineral magnesium.
Clean and Colourful
Just as we overdo alcohol, the holidays are notorious for overeating. Rich, sugar-laden, fatty foods are all part of seasonal fare and will play havoc with your skin.
While junky, over-processed foods don’t contribute directly to skin conditions such as acne and clogged pores, there’s no doubt that a consistently poor diet will be reflected in your appearance. Spend a week or so concentrating on feeding your body well – make a point of upping your intake of colourful veggies rich in vitamins A, C and E (such as spinach, bell peppers, winter squash and almonds) which will also give your body a much-needed boost of antioxidants that help fight cell-damaging free radicals.
It’s also a good time to get some healthy fats into your body – omega 3 fatty acid-rich fish, avocado, which is high in vitamin E, and nuts such as zinc-containing walnuts, will all contribute to shinier, stronger hair and skin that is more resilient to environmental stress and damage.
On the Surface
Contrary to what some skincare manufacturers may tell you, it’s not possible to detoxify your skin by completely ‘drawing out’ impurities although certain substances, such as clay, charcoal and dead sea mud, will provide a much-needed deep cleanse, impart vital minerals and balance the skin’s PH level.
Says Choi, “Saunas, hot/ cold water treatments and exercise also help the body to eliminate through our pores and lymphatics”, while gentle exfoliation helps to rid the skin of built up debris and dead skin cells which in turn encourages skin cell turnover.
A simple toner made from cooled antioxidant-rich steeped green tea is an excellent way to further clarify the skin and should be followed up by an intensely hydrating cream that contains hyaluronic acid, aloe gel or squalane to help attract and lock moisture in the skin.
Deeply moisturizing hair conditioners that use oils such as argan and jojoba will smooth the hair shaft to restore shine and you can whip up a quick and easy DIY hair mask with avocado and egg yolk for an extra dose of post-holiday TLC for your tired tresses.