Famously, this is the season of Big Nights Out, one after the other. The temptations of champagne, cocktails, canapés. And there’s no doubt that from a beauty (not to mention health) perspective, the Christmas season can take it out of you, leaving you looking terrible and feeling worse. (Before you know it you’re down with a cold and chances of squeezing into the little black dress you wanted to wear for the Christmas party seem fairly remote!)
So here, you’re going to find your Morning After The Night Before beauty guide. But working on the principle that prevention really is better than cure (or concealer), I’d like to share some secrets that I once gleaned from Danièle Ryman, who’s probably the world’s leading aromatherapist (and who’s treated literally thousands of clients, at her London practice). Danièle has a set of top tips that will have you bouncing out bright-eyed and bushy tailed the next morning – but you know what? Looking great the morning after actually starts the night before!
Preparation, Danièle believes is key. ‘In France,’ she explains, ‘the anticipation of a big night is part of the fun. And if you have a really big day ahead – like a wedding or a party where you need to keep going for many hours, you should prepare your body for it.’ So…
- Take a little exercise beforehand – this gets your circulation going, mean you already feel more awake and alive before you even hit the party. And those natural endomorphins mean you won’t need to gulp a few glasses of wine to gain the courage to start chatting.
- Make sure you eat well. Lots of fresh fruit in the days before a big night out mean you have more natural energy and your body is better equipped to deal with the demands you may make of it. A good strong liver is helpful, so eat grapefruit and boost your minerals with dates, brazil nuts and walnuts.
- If you don’t have time for such preparation, at least make sure you line your stomach. A couple of glasses of milk or even a spoonful of olive oil, coat the stomach, stop you getting drunk so fast and protect you from a really severe hangover the next day.
Then when you’re out…
- We all know this, but we all find it hard to do: drink one long glass of water for each glass of alcohol, when you’re out. Often you are actually thirsty, so you drink your wine fast. It’s a vicious circle: alcohol makes you thirstier so you drink more – etc. etc.! Drinking a glass of water with every drink means you get drunk less fast and don’t have to face a horrible hangover where your brain and body are completely dehydrated.
- Remember: wine can be excellent for you – it’s filled with antioxidants and can help prevent heart disease. However, it’s not good in vast quantities and it’s especially not good without food. Ask for a little bowl of tapas or some bread and olive oil – the popular way to have an aperitif in France, Spain and Italy. It helps soak up the alcohol and you feel a lot better the next morning.
And the all-important morning after the night before…
- If you have time, then a really good breakfast of fruit with bio yoghurt, a spoonful of honey and some chopped brazils will soon put some spring back in your step and help the liver recover. If you’re really pushed for time, though, make sure you at least have a yoghurt or a banana – something to line the stomach and give you natural energy.
- Try not to drink coffee. It’s a diuretic and it will only dehydrate you more. Instead boil up some green tea – very cleansing and containing many antioxidants.
- Allow green tea to cool and place in a little spray bottle. If you spritz this onto your face throughout the day your skin will be rehydrated and refreshed allowing you to get through eight hours in the office. (Did you know you can even use green tea as a final rinse when washing your hair to repair smoke damage?)
- If you know the party you’re going to is going to be smoky, the best way to counter it is to prepare in advance a trio of essential oils in a bottle: tea-tree, eucalyptus and pine. Pour some boiling water into a bowl and add a few drops of the essential oil mix, then breathe in the steam. These will do wonders for your respiratory system and cleanse your head. (Let’s face it, private parties are the only places people are allowed to smoke these days – so it often seems to me they fit twice as many cigarettes into the same amount of time, when there are no restrictions!)
- Add ten drops of the same essential oils to 25ml of grapeseed or almond oil and use it to massage into your skin – fantastically moisturising and still really beneficial to your chest and lungs.
- Take a vitamin C and zinc tablet – the last thing you need is a cold taking advantage of your lowered immune system.
- If skin is dull or tired, use a mask. Even if you’re in a rush some masks only take five minutes to work, and hey, presto! You’re radiant again.
And reach for the camouflage!
- Apply a light-reflective concealer on your under-eye, been-out-till-way-past-bedtime dark circles.
- Another challenge tends to be facial redness and flushing (alcohol dilates veins). Use a mineral make-up or a cream foundation to take the colour down; use a cream (but not light-reflective) concealer, if you prefer, on areas of high colour.
- Apply a sweep of mascara to top lids only (to draw attention up and away from under-eye baggage). Also emphasise your brows, for the same reason: you want to think ‘lift, lift, lift’.
- If you’re feeling pale (rather than flushed), smooth on a cream blusher. Apply high on the cheeks – not the apple – but blend seamlessly. (I like to use a foundation brush for applying cream blush.)
- Reach for a lipcolour. Thankfully, lips are blissfully unaffected by too much partying and lack of sleep, so play them up. Line with a natural pencil and fill in with a lovely sheer plum, or a rose pink – you want a clear, fresh-looking shade, not anything tinged with brown or blue. Add a slick of lip gloss to draw attention away from the rest of the face and greet the new day with confidence. (And, hopefully, without a thumping headache.)
So: here’s to fabulous parties – and gorgeous mornings-after…