Weight Gain The holidays can seem like an endless parade of cookies, pies, special drinks, and traditional desserts. But a few smart moves can help you avoid holiday weight gain. You can have your beloved cheesecake if you stick to reasonable portions and cut back on calories when you can. Choose hot cocoa over creamy eggnog (a calorie atomic bomb!). Watch out for finger foods at parties, as mindless munching can add up. Have a light breakfast and lunch so you can enjoy all the holiday fare at dinner, and aim to fit in some exercise each day, even if it's just a brisk walk around the block.
Sleepless Nights Catching a red-eye to your relatives or setting a crazy-early alarm for shopping can mean sacrificing a good night's rest. One too many of those nights (or even just one for that matter) can cause dark circles, bags under your eyes, and a dull complexion. Over the long run, lack of sleep can actually speed the signs of aging, and who wants that? Now more than ever, you should make sleep a real priority. You'll not only look better, but studies suggest sleep can improve memory, help vaccine efficacy (as in flu shot!), and lessen weight gain.
Shorter Days When the clocks turn back, the days get darker sooner, and sunshine becomes a distant memory. For many, this also marks a time when they put away the sunblock. Don't let the weather fool you. Even though UVB rays—the ones that cause sunburns—are less intense, harmful UVA rays are the same year-round. These can cause skin cancer and premature aging, so use sunscreen under makeup or use a foundation with SPF, particularly during winter sports. If you're concerned about your vitamin D intake, there are other ways to get vitamin D besides sunlight.
Stressed Out Skin Unfortunately holidays often bring stress. Money troubles, pressure to host or attend parties, and cooking a meal for a large crowd are only some of the reasons you may feel tense this time of year. But all that worry can cause more than just your mood to plummet. Stress can lead to skin issues like acne and psoriasis flares, as well as hair loss. Take time to actually enjoy the season, and understand plans probably won't go off without at least one tiny hitch. Relax by the fire, get a massage, let someone else cook—just take some you time, and watch stress melt away.
Fading Hair Color At the end of the year, hair color can look a little blah. Whether you have natural color that has lost its summer luster, or colored tresses that haven't made it to the salon recently, winter is the perfect time to get your hair holiday-party ready! Semi-permanent at-home kits can create a subtle yet noticeable difference, and several tricks of the trade can make any color job last longer. Keep your hair conditioned by using a weekly mask, and avoid hot tools when possible to maintain vibrant color. And try a color-protecting styling product that enhances shine too.
Dull Complexion Just as hair color fades in the winter, so does your complexion. Chilly conditions cause dry skin, and that sun-kissed glow has long since left your face. Bring life back to your appearance just in time for out-of-town guests to arrive (and office parties to begin). Give your winter skin a wake-up by using a daily exfoliator to scruff off dead skin cells and invest in an age-defying color corrector for a more even skin tone. Try a tinted moisturizer with SPF. Add a pop of much-needed color with a rosy-pink cream blush that stays on longer and adds a more youthful look than powder blushes.
Dry Air and Static Hair Frizz in the summer, and static in the winter: Your hair just can't seem to win the weather battle. There are things you can do other than pulling your hair into a top knot. Get holiday-ready by adding shine back into hair; use shampoo that doesn't strip out natural oils, deep-condition weekly or monthly, and/or sweep a glossing cream onto dry strands.
Nail Damage You're finally done shopping, so you can kick up your feet and relax. But wait, all those presents need to be wrapped! Unless you have a little elf to do it for you, all that manual labor is sure to nick, chip, and smudge your pretty new mani. At home, be sure not to skip steps. Each nail should get a base coat, two color coats, and a top coat to seal the shade. And add one quick-dry drop to each nail to speed up drying time and prevent smudges. At the salon, try out gel lacquers. These use UV light to set polish, and last for an impressive two to three weeks without chipping.