If the most wonderful time of year has you feeling more frazzled than festive, we’ve got the perfect present: A guide to the best non-invasive cosmetic skincare procedures to keep you glowing this holiday while you’re going… and going…
Professional Holiday Skincare Prep
Whether your skin is in need of brightening, firming, or just a bit of pre-holiday TLC, there is an array of minimally invasive in-office procedures that are light on downtime and heavy on results.
The top seasonal skincare suggestion of New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Julie Russak, MD? A mild to a medium-strength chemical peel. “Peels can be customized to have zero downtime yet instant results, which is perfect for a last-minute glow before a holiday party,” she shares, adding that she favors both Jessner peels and light TCA peels at her practice.
- Jessner Peel: Comprised of several acids (including salicylic acid, lactic acid, and resorcinol), the self-neutralizing, medium-depth peel affects only the top layer of skin and is generally safe for a variety of skin types to treat everything from acne scars and sunspots to fine lines and wrinkles. Because patients must stay out of the sun before and after to avoid hyperpigmentation, Jessner peels are best performed in late autumn, winter, and early spring (i.e. an ideal pre-holiday pick-me-up).
- TCA Peel: TCA stands for trichloroacetic acid, a relative of vinegar that can be used in varying strengths to exfoliate the epidermal skin cells. Like other types of chemical peels, it’s best performed in the winter months and is commonly used to even skin tone, reduce fine lines, and smooth acne scarring.
- CUSTOMIZED FACIALS: Come holiday time, Dr. Russak’s patients line up for customized facials at her Russak+ Aesthetic Center. “We combine dermaplaning, HydraFacial, and oxygen infusion to provide an instant pick-me-up,” she says. By incorporating techniques from all three procedures, she is able to provide immediate brightening, lifting, and firming results.
- Dermaplaning: During a dermaplaning treatment, a dermatologist (or highly trained aesthetician) uses a medical-grade scalpel to remove a thin layer of dead skin cells from a patient’s face. While it does not provide the same level exfoliation as a chemical peel, dermaplaning provides an instant refresh for dull skin, in addition to improving the absorption rate of serums and skincare and allowing for smoother makeup application (so long, peach fuzz!). But be sure to slather on the sunscreen — dermaplaning will make you more sensitive to UV rays (even in the wintertime).
- HydraFacial: The multifaceted treatment uses water to simultaneously suction out the pores and deliver potent infusions of active ingredients deep into the skin. It can be used to treat a variety of concerns — from acne to fine lines to sun damage — without any irritation or redness. Patients emerge from the 30-minute procedure with a radiance boost that lasts for about one week.
- Oxygen Facial: A favorite of celebrities like Madonna, the procedure involves spraying the epidermis with concentrated oxygen molecules that are infused with skin-boosting vitamins and nutrients. Proponents say the treatment enhances collagen production, detoxifies, and hydrates — leaving skin with an immediate dewy glow.
The filler is the number one treatment Dr. Russak recommends to patients looking for instant gratification. “I use fillers to lift the face and provide a contour that lasts, which can instantly take years off of the face,” she shares. “It achieves a refreshed, youthful appearance without looking ‘done.’”
Common treatment areas include the cheekbones, tear troughs, and jawline — with men, in particular, opting for the latter. Patients should allow about 10 days for any bruising or swelling to resolve.
MICRONEEDLING WITH PRP
This non-surgical procedure is a go-to for Beverly Hills-based board-certified plastic surgeon Jonathan Cabin, MD when treating patients who are looking for a quick fix. Also known as the ‘vampire facial,’ the treatment involves piercing the skin with fine needles to create micro-wounds that stimulate collagen production. Introducing the patient’s own platelet-rich plasma (PRP) further maximizes the rejuvenating results, in addition to more quickly improving redness and healing time.
Dr. Cabin advises scheduling one treatment per month for three months in a row for the best results. But for patients who haven’t planned that far ahead, don’t fret. One micro-needling treatment performed two weeks before a special event will still result in more radiant skin.
Dr. Cabin suggests Botox® and the like to patients who are looking to both prevent and treat fine lines and wrinkles — especially around the eyes (think: crow’s feet) and forehead. Results can last four to six months, but patients should plan to schedule their injections at least two weeks prior to any holiday event to allow effects to kick in and any injection site bruising or redness to resolve.
At-Home Holiday Skincare Prep
The chilly, dry air coupled with the hustle and bustle of both work and social engagements can leave your complexion looking like the Ghost of Christmas Past. It may go without saying, but the key to avoiding dull, dry, and irritated skin is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While the holiday season is so often synonymous with overindulgence, sticking to a mindful, well-balanced routine can keep your skin looking rosier than Rudolph’s nose.
- Adopt a Seasonal Skincare Routine: Just as you swap out your flip-flops and t-shirts for booties and sweaters, you should be switching up your product preferences to suit the change of season, says Dr. Cabin. He believes a tailored regimen (including daily sunscreen!) is the single most effective way to prevent and reverse skin damage. In addition to incorporating hydrating stalwarts like hyaluronic acid into your routine for winter, brightening and exfoliating ingredients like vitamin C and alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids can provide an instant pre-holiday glow boost.
- Don’t Skimp on Sleep: It’s not called ‘beauty sleep’ for nothing. Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults is your body’s chance to recharge. Like many bodily functions, the skin undergoes a number of reparative processes overnight, so catching some zzz’s is tantamount to skin health. For an added complexion jolt, try an overnight mask, night cream, or serum that can complement the natural rejuvenation.
- Steer Clear of Sugar: Indulging in cakes, cookies, and eggnog galore is not only a concern for your waistline. Decadent foods that are high in sugar or salt can wreak havoc on your complexion and trigger bloating, redness, and even acne. As always, enjoy in moderation.
- Stay Hydrated: Slathering on your favorite serum and moisturizer can only go so far if your skin is parched from dehydration. Aim to take in about half your weight in fluid ounces daily (up that quotient if you’re consuming alcohol). And, no, a peppermint latte doesn’t count as ‘essential fluids.’
If you’re just too busy — or still waiting on that holiday skincare bonus — to schedule a cosmetic treatment, don’t give into your inner ‘bah, humbug’ just yet. Dr. Russak has a few self-care tips that can provide both mind and body benefits. “I’m a big fan of detoxing with an infrared sauna and lymphatic drainage massage,” she says, adding that “getting a good haircut can also provide an instant mood boost.” And, at the end of the day, all the procedures in the world can’t take the place of a little ‘me time.’ Dr. Russak’s advice to keep yourself feeling merry and looking bright? “Make sure to squeeze in some meditation to relax from holiday stress,” she says.