While “hangover skin” might sound like a party season bogeyman, or a made-up marketing term designed to tempt you into buying more products, after a month of late nights, almost exclusively beige food and – possibly – too much booze, a lacklustre, puffy complexion is as inevitable as a banging headache – and just as unappealing.
As Dr Anjali Mahto of the British Association of Dermatologists points out, “the problem with party season is that it’s an entire season. The odd night out isn’t terrible for your skin, but sustained going out can definitely cause problems.” Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage – and not all of them involve buying more products.
1 Put in the prep
Skin that is already in good shape is better equipped to cope with the onslaught of party season. Dermatologists tend to recommend sticking to a regular skincare routine where possible, but you could also consider adding an antioxidant serum for extra support. Not all serums are the magic potions they profess to be, but La Roche-Posay’s Pure Vitamin C10 serum (£38, 30ml), which claims to boost radiance and improve skin texture, has brought my skin back from the brink many times, and lasts much longer than the small bottle would suggest.
2 Consider your drinks
Alcohol is a diuretic, so you and your skin will quickly become dehydrated if you are knocking back the booze. Consider alternating alcoholic drinks with glasses of water to prevent your skin from getting parched. Ultra-sweet cocktails and sparkling wines are also not your skin’s friends – studies have linked sugar with an increase in wrinkles and a breakdown in collagen (a protein that affects skin elasticity).
3 Think about your party-food consumption
A late-night kebab is tempting, but bear in mind that salty food will make you more dehydrated. Mahto recommends having a proper meal before you go out, adding that vegetables with a high water content – think cucumber and broccoli – can help with hydration.
There is one festive snack that could do your skin some good: “Nuts are high in fats that are good at effectively lining your stomach,” she says. Situate yourself beside the bowl of almonds, then.
4 Remove your make-up
No matter how unappealing it may seem at the end of a night, taking off your make-up helps to avoid clogged pores and spots. Nobody is expecting you to undergo a five-step cleansing and toning regime at 3am, but a does-it-all makeup removing cleanser such as Glossier’s Milky Jelly cleanser (£15, 177ml) will leave skin clean with minimal effort.
If you can’t face that, a water-free product such as Garnier’s Micellar Milky cleansing water (£6.99, 400ml) will allow you to remove makeup from the comfort of your bed.
5. Recharge your skin while you sleep
Sleep is your skin’s chance to replenish after the party, and pre-bed products are your best chance at damage control. Try a hydration-focused cream such as Clinique’s Moisture Surge 72-hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator (£37, 50ml) or No7 HydraLuminous Overnight Recovery Gel Cream (£14, 50ml), which are both nourishing without being too heavy. That and a large glass of water on the bedside table.
6 Treat yourself to a facial massage
Thanks to the dehydrating effects of alcohol and salty foods, you may be accustomed to having a puffy face the morning after the night before. See Julianne Moore’s now infamous “sushi face” for reference – the actor avoids soy sauce the night before awards ceremonies for fear of her face puffing up.
But you might be able to counter some of those effects. The jade roller tool might have received its fair share of derision having been championed by Gwyneth’s wellness brand Goop, but a few minutes in the morning spent massaging your face with one might actually help. Use upward motions for lymphatic drainage (de-puffing) and keep it in the fridge, for a cooling effect: “It’ll reduce the amount of surface blood vessels, so the skin won’t look so red and angry,” says Mahto. For a more low-tech version simply used your fingers.
7 Tackle dark circles
Dark, puffy circles under the eyes are one of the telltale signs of so-called hangover skin. Mahto recommends looking for an eye cream containing caffeine, which is believed to reduce swelling (cooled teabags to the eyes can have a similar effect), and products with hyaluronic acid, which acts as a sort of Polyfilla for fine lines. “For a period, you can create a slightly more awake appearance – but they are short-term, temporary fixes,” she says.
8 If in doubt…
If everything else fails and you’re feeling like you’d rather not reveal the extent of your hangover to colleagues the morning after the night before, there is always makeup. There is no need to slather heavy-duty concealer all over your face in a bid to hide your sins. Instead you could try a foundation designed to mimic a healthy glow. Becca’s Aqua Luminous Perfecting foundation (£32, 30ml) helps to neutralise redness, but doesn’t look mask-like, while Benefit’s Boi-ing Airbrush concealer (£18.50, 5g) is good at covering blemishes. Finally, a little colour on your cheeks will avoid a deathly pallor – and don’t underestimate the power of mascara to fake a wide-awake appearance.