Everyone talks about the headaches, the nausea, the “water is the best-tasting liquid on Earth” feeling at 2 a.m., the hangxiety, the DADs, and of course, the blinding light coming in from the windows. But we don’t talk about the ways a hangover botches your face nearly enough. Redness, puffiness, inflammation, breakouts, dryness—the morning after is not kind to our faces. We’re talking about the awful conundrum that is hangover skin.
I’m not suggesting we all drink to excess this holiday season, but I am saying that if it were to happen that one too many spiked eggnogs, hot cocoas with peppermint schnapps, or my personal favorite, Santa Claus-mopolitans, made their way into your hands during your holiday party, I’ve got your back when your skin inevitably misbehaves the next day. Consider this the ultimate routine to follow after your big night.
1. Drink some water. Like, a lot of water.
Guzzle down at least 32 ounces of water—especially before you drink any coffee. We also highly suggest coffee. And ibuprofen.
2. Oil cleanse
Oil cleansers are magic. Not only do they lightly moisturize your skin in the first step of your routine, but they also remove dirt, oil, and any extra makeup that could be leftover (because we all know we’re a little less than diligent about removing our makeup when we’ve had a glass too many). Make sure to emulsify the cleanser with water to remove everything easily.
3. Second Cleanse
When your skin is fragile, the first thing you should do is opt for a gentler cleanser. Some estheticians and dermatologists argue that your cleanser is the most important step in your routine; it’s what sets you up for success later in your regimen. When your skin is properly cleansed and not left feeling stripped or dry, you’re ready to get a little deeper.
4. Chemical Exfoliator
A chemical exfoliator is a really great way to give your skin a boost, especially if you’re dreaming of glowing skin. You can try a toner, a mask, or a peel—as long as it has exfoliating acids like mandelic (the most gentle), glycolic, salicylic, lactic, and malic acids. Get rid of all those dead, alcohol-damaged skin cells to reveal skin that looks like it did before you ever took your first sip!
5. Clay Mask
A good detoxifying mask not only helps heal and treat any breakouts that may have already started, but it’ll also stop others in their tracks. Opt for something that won’t dry out your skin further, like these:
6. Moisturizing Mask
Alcohol deprives the skin of water, so a lot of it usually leaves us pretty dehydrated (hence thinking “water is so good” every time you wake up hungover), and that includes our skin. My favorite way to get your skin ultra-hydrated is by applying layers of moisturizing products; unless you’re really oily, it usually isn’t enough to slap on a moisturizer to make up for dehydrated skin. Rehydrating your skin will make it look bright, even, and clear, and it’ll help with starting to heal any breakouts, redness, and dry patches—AKA it’s everything you could ever need and want after a hangover.
A sheet mask is my go-to to get this done, especially because you don’t have to wash it off. To make your sheet mask extra relaxing, keep your mask in the fridge. It’ll be extremely refreshing while giving your skin the TLC it deserves.
Now’s the time to go in with the big guns—none of those “gel creams” or “light moisturizers with SPF.” No, what you need is a thick, rich, DaddyTM moisturizer that’s going to lock in everything you’ve done above, atone you for your sins, and buy you diamonds for the holidays. Your skin is the largest organ in the body, and we know alcohol basically wreaks havoc on every vital organ (how rude for something that feels so good), so you’re giving it the R+R it deserves right now.
If you’re dealing with oilier skin than normal (not uncommon when you’re combining drinks with late-night pizza and tacos—the best kinds of nights, amirite?), you can try a moisturizing toner, like my current favorite from Laneige. It’s a toner/moisturizer hybrid, and for oily skin types, it’s likely enough to stand alone as your moisturizer. And for dry skin, it’s a great added step to really hydrate your skin.
8. Eye Cream
And while you’re at it, don’t forget eye cream. Those puffy eyes are calling out to you in sheer agony over the night you just made them endure—treat them extra well.
9. Do a facial massage
Boost circulation and blood flow by doing a lymphatic drainage facial massage. You can use a tool like a gua sha or your fingers—either works as long as you prep the skin with an oil that won’t tug on your skin as you do the massage. Keep a major focus on the lower parts of the face and under the eyes, as those are the key areas where excess alcohol puffs up your face. The way your McDonald’s hash brown tastes is exactly the way a facial massage feels for your skin. Behold: my current favorite massage tutorial and routine to follow.
10. Use an ice roller
There’s a reason rolling cold spoons or ice rollers (or plain old ice cubes when you’re in a pinch—we’ve all done it) feels amazing: Alcohol dilates your blood vessels, and a cold compress can help regulate that, reducing redness and depuffing skin.
If you can’t ice roll or want to take it to the next level, put your skincare products in the fridge. Think of it like taking your skincare on the rocks.
11. Follow with SPF
If you’ve used an AHA or BHA, you need to use an SPF to protect your skin from the sun, as these acids make your skin even more susceptible to sun damage. Make sure to apply your SPF once any oils have settled into your skin or use a powder SPF over your makeup.