Cause: Staying up late. Celebrating into the wee hours, overindulging in food and drink, then haphazardly removing makeup (getting bits of it in your eyes), can leave your eyes with a hangover.
Aah! “Lie down and place cold cotton balls or a chilled gel eye mask over closed eyes for 10 minutes,” advises Anne Sumers, an ophthalmologist in Ridgewood, New Jersey. “This will drain accumulated fluids and reduce swelling.” (To get ready for the morning after a big night, soak cotton balls in water, flatten them with your fingers, and keep them in the freezer on wax paper until needed.) Refresh dry or irritated eyes with lubricating artificial tears, like TheraTears ($14, drugstore.com). “But avoid drops that claim to take the red out,” Sumers says. “They work in the short term by contracting blood vessels but can backfire later on, making eyes redder than ever.”
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Bah! Puffy Face
Cause: Drinking and eating too much. Too many cocktails or salty hors d’oeuvres and you could wake up looking like a blowfish (and not in a good way).
Aah! “Often holiday foods are salty, and salt acts like a magnet,” causing your body to retain water and “making you puffy,” explains Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “Dilute the salt by drinking lots of water.” Or try other caffeine-free fluids, she says, like peppermint tea, which can also ease any digestion issues you may have after overdoing it. “To help keep fluids from pooling in your face overnight, sleep propped up on two or three pillows,” advises Margaret Weiss, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore.
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Bah! Sore Hands
Cause: Carrying shopping bags and writing cards. Your hands are one of your hardest-working body parts at any time of the year. During the run-up to the holidays, they’re pulling a double shift.
Aah! To soothe hand muscles, try the following techniques from Yamuna Zake, creator of Yamuna Body Logic and Yamuna Body Rolling, a movement studio in New York City. Stand over a table and place your palms flat on it; spread your fingers, then press against the table for 15 seconds. Turn your palms around so your fingertips are facing your legs and press again. Next, hold your right hand in front of you, palm down, and spread your fingers. Use your left thumb to firmly press each of the webs between the fingers, one by one, toward the wrist. Repeat with the opposite hand and thumb. “All this compressing and letting go increases circulation to the hands and relaxes them,” says Zake.
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Bah! Acne Breakouts
Cause: Stress. The too-much-to-do-in-too-little-time holiday syndrome can leave your nerves frayed and your skin blemished.
Aah! If you’re prone to breakouts and don’t have overly sensitive or dry skin, try preventing them with regular use of a face soap that contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. If an important event is coming up and you tend to break out when you’re run-down, “starting a week before, use a 5 percent benzoyl peroxide cream every night on the area where blemishes usually occur,” says Diane Berson, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, in New York City. “When a pimple does appear, place an ice pack on it for 5 to 10 minutes to reduce swelling, then pat the area dry and apply benzoyl peroxide cream or gel with a clean cotton swab,” says Berson. “You can top it with concealer that also contains benzoyl peroxide.”
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Bah! Flushed Face
Cause: Standing too long over a hot stove. If you can’t stand the heat, it will show on your face, because “blood rushes to the surface of the skin to cool you off,” Berson explains.
Aah! To keep your face from heating up like a skillet while you’re cooking or madly cleaning up, lower your internal thermostat by chewing on ice chips or draping a slightly damp, cold towel around your neck. Another way to cool down: Fill a bowl with whole milk and ice cubes, dip a cloth in the solution, and pat your face with it. “The lactic acid has an anti-inflammatory effect,” says Lisa Donofrio, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine. Too late to prevent redness? Brush on a yellow-based loose or pressed powder to neutralize and hide the red. (Try Physicians Formula Powder Palette Multi-Colored Face Powder, $14, physiciansformula.com; or T. LeClerc Loose Powder in Banane, $50, bluemercury.com for info.)
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Bah! Stained Lips
Cause: Drinking red wine or wearing dark lipstick. Last night’s Cabernet was delicious, but you don’t want to carry its memory on your lips, which may already be dry and flaky from cold winter winds.
Aah! The red color will cling to the dry pieces of skin on lips, but you can remove it by exfoliating the outer layer of skin. “Wet an extra-soft toothbrush with warm water, then gently rub the lips with a circular motion,” says Gretchen Monahan, founder and owner of Grettacole and G Spa, in Boston. “Next, rinse your lips, pat dry, and apply a moisturizing lip balm with petroleum,” says Monahan. “Another way to remove color from lips is by gently rubbing them with lemon juice,” says Charles Silk, an associate clinical professor at the New York University College of Dentistry. “Afterward, rinse, dry, and apply lip balm.”
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Bah! Breath or Hands with Strong Party-Food Odors
Cause: Eating or preparing garlicky, oniony, or cheesy foods. Who wants to worry about kissing people hello or good-bye after close encounters with strong foods?
Aah! Slip into the bathroom, floss, and brush your teeth and tongue. “Food and bacteria can get caught in the crevices of the tongue and cause bad breath,” says Barbara J. Steinberg, D.D.S., a clinical professor of dental surgery at the Drexel University College of Medicine, in Philadelphia. “If you don’t have time or a toothbrush, chew on a sprig of parsley from the hors d’oeuvres tray or the lemon from your cocktail,” says Silk. To get rid of odors on hands, rub lemon wedges or slices between them, then rinse. No lemons? Try rubbing your hands on your stainless-steel kitchen sink to diminish the smell of onions, garlic, and fish.
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Bah! Achy Feet
Cause: Pounding the pavement looking for the perfect gifts. A long day of working, shopping, and decorating the house can leave your dogs in dire need of pampering.
Aah! “Alternate warm and cold foot baths: Soak your feet in a tub of warm water infused with a few scoops of sea salt for 10 minutes, then place them in a tub of cold water for 10, then repeat,” says aesthetician Mona Sappenfield, owner of the Mona Spa and Laser Center, in Memphis and three other locations. “The warmth will ease the soreness, and the coolness will take the swelling out,” she says. Afterward, elevate your feet, ideally above heart level, to help drain the fluid that builds up after long hours of walking and standing. Before turning in for the night, massage your feet with a peppermint foot lotion to stimulate circulation and leave them feeling and smelling refreshed.
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Bah! Fried, Staticky Hair
Cause: Overstyling for special events. All that pre-party blow-drying, teasing, twisting, and spraying can take a toll on hair, and the dry heat in your home and office can send it skyward.
Aah! “Use a deep-conditioning treatment once a week to keep hair moisturized,” says Carmine Minardi, co-owner and design director of the Minardi Salon, in New York City. If you don’t have color-treated hair, you can first remove buildup from styling products with a clarifying shampoo. Use the right brush: “Avoid nylon, which can aggravate static electricity, and switch to boar bristle, which doesn’t,” says Minardi. “Use a silicone product to reduce flyaways and static in dry hair,” says Paul Brown, a hairstylist and the president of Paul Brown Hawaii Salons and Day Spas. “In a pinch, remove static by drawing an antistatic dryer sheet across your hair or running a brush spritzed with a little hair spray through it, ” says Brown.
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Bah! Itchy, Flaky Scalp
Cause: Stress and changes in beauty routines. Now that you’re crunched for time, you may rush through your hair-washing routine or wash less often—a strategy that can backfire.
Aah! “Some people don’t rinse well enough after washing and conditioning,” says Minardi, and that can lead to a flaky buildup on the scalp. To eliminate it, use a moisturizing shampoo (such as Neutrogena T-Gel Daily Control Dandruff Shampoo, $8, ulta.com) once or twice a week. When conditioning, avoid putting the product right on the scalp. “If the itching and flakiness persist, you may have seborrhea of the scalp, which can flare up in times of stress,” says Donofrio. To loosen and remove seborrheic scales, use a shampoo with zinc, salicylic acid, or an antifungal agent. Another helpful strategy: “Warm some olive oil, dip in your fingertips, gently massage the oil into your scalp, leave it on overnight, then wash it off in the morning,” says Donofrio. The scales should wash off, too. Bothered by scalp itchiness? “An over-the-counter cortisone solution made for the scalp (such as Scalpicin, $9, drugstore.com) can be a temporary fix until you have a chance to see a dermatologist,” says Donofrio.