Oh, it’s that time of year again. Sugarplums, holiday cheer, peace on earth … last-minute shopping, carb overload, stress breakouts. The holidays can take its toll on the best of us, no matter how genetically skin-blessed, mask-militant, or regimen-regimented we may be. So to prepare our skin for the shock that lasts from that first drop of gravy on Thanksgiving to the last sip of champagne on New Year’s Eve, follow this week-by-week guide to end the year with a glow.
Week 1: Get a Fresh Start
We’re well into the colder months, so you may be seeing the first signs of flaking and dry patches on your face. To slough off that built-up layer of dead skin cells and excess melanin left over from summer, start slow with a gentle physical exfoliator. Salon de Tte Exfoliating Mask gets its inspiration from traditional Korean bathhouses, where women slough off the dead top layer of skin with a textured cleansing cloth. Salon de Tte’s version is far gentler, utilizing cellulose for a gommage effect (think little pellets of dead skin pilling on your face) combined with a convenient palm-size pad.
For particularly pesky areas, like around the nose, use an aqua peeler with alpha hydroxy acids, like Reme+G 3-in-1 Aqua Peeler Sheet Mask Kit or Yoon Dermaline Marine Aqua Peeler. Each features an oversized cotton swab filled with glycolic acid, so you can really get into those nooks and crannies. Or when I really need to glow, I like an all-over face mask with glycolic acid, like Exuviance Triple Microdermabrasion Face Polish. I just massage on for 30 seconds, leave on for a minute or two, and my skin is left feeling crazy smooth and purified.
Just remember — you don’t want to overdo the exfoliation, lest you end up with angry, irritated skin. (Imagine if you were constantly being rubbed the wrong way — literally.) Since I use BHA in my daily routine, I limit my other exfoliating products to twice a week max and follow it up with nourishing masks and treatments.
Week 2: Layer Up
Now that you’ve sloughed off the dead layer to reveal fresh, new skin, your skin is ready to better absorb nutrients. Maintain your smooth texture by hydrating your skin from the inside out. Add a hydrating essence or serum with hyaluronic acid to boost the skin’s ability to draw moisture into itself. INUF B5 Balancing Serum is one of my go-to hyaluronic acid serums as soon as the weather dips below 72 degrees. (Hey, I’m a SoCal girl. That’s cold to me.)
Another way to keep your skin hydrated is by adding a lotion into your regimen. Korean women often apply a lightweight moisturizer between their serum and cream moisturizer steps — think of it in the same way that a cardigan under a coat keeps you warmer than just a heavy coat. I recently tried CoxRX’s Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion and absolutely fell in love. There’s something so comforting about the cushiony gel lotion (I think it’s the birch sap), and while it leaves my face a bit shiny, it hydrates like no other while still feeling nice and lightweight. It’s also good for oily skin types, so I’m able to use it all over rather than just targeting my extra dry cheeks.
A more lightweight lotion in my rotation for days when I may not need as much hydration is Shiseido White Lucent Luminizing Surge Emulsion. It’s light, refreshing, features brightening ingredients, and there’s no alcohol in the ingredient list (because really, I get a bit too much alcohol during the holidays as it is, and I don’t mean in my skin care).
Week 3: Reboot & Reset
As the invites come pouring in (office party, holiday wedding, family get-together), be sure to put your best face forward by giving yourself a 1-day-1-pack reboot. It’s a big trend in Korea, and when I tried it, I surprised even my skeptical self. Wearing a sheet mask every day for a week not only quelled my breakouts, it made my skin feel plush and positively juicy.
Be smart about your masking and start with something to target your skin concerns. If stress breakouts are your big fear, stop potential skin hijackings with LJH Tea Tree Soothing Mask. Full of tea tree extract and anti-inflammatory Centella asiatica extract, this sheet mask is my go-to when I’m having a breakout.
As the week wears on, treat your skin to something more hydrating and nourishing, like one of MD’S Pick Rubber Masks, the Korean facialist secret to plump, glowing skin. Then, the day before your big event, try a lifting, firming or brightening mask — like Polatam Water Gel Extra Force Mask Brightening — to really get your skin looking its best. (Don’t forget to add an eye mask — apply under your sheet mask for a true multi-masking time hack.)
You’re almost there! You’ve survived drunk uncles and too much booze and holiday deadlines, so take some time to pamper yourself and your skin. Take a bath with essential oils and lots of bubbles. Splurge on an extra chic manicure. And keep a sleeping mask on your bedside table to slather on before you hit the hay — it’ll act like an extra-plush comforter for your tired skin. J. One Black Jelly Pack is the sassier, overnight version of the beloved J. One Jelly Pack, what with its inky hue and ebony-shaded ingredients (black cumin, blackberry, black pearl). And yes, while its antioxidants and reparative features act as a salve for your skin, it is a Jelly Pack, after all, which means it’ll whip your skin into shape by morning.
Because a stress-free, holiday-proof complexion? That’s the best gift of all.
Adapted from a story published in Glow Recipe.