By Dr. Doris Day

Everyone wants to put their best face forward for the holidays. It’s the most festive time of the year and a time to look back and celebrate your accomplishments of the past year as well as a time to plan for a better year to follow. When it comes to health and beauty, it’s so important to know that your skin is a powerful reflection of your overall health and well-being and that beautiful, radiant skin is an excellent representation of the care you take of yourself.

The good news is that your skin is very forgiving, it’s designed to tolerate fluctuations, and it recovers quickly compared to other organs of your body. So even if there have been times of stress in the past, there are ways to manage to minimize the impact on your skin and also on your body as a whole. The goal is to help you understand the power you have within yourself to be your best in every way: mind, body, soul, and with it comes true beauty.

Your appearance is not vanity, and it’s okay and even healthy and positive to want to look your best. The good news is you don’t have to break the bank to get there. There are outstanding products and treatments available to help you look and feel your best every day of the year. There are new cutting edge non-surgical treatments with minimal downtime that can get you looking your very best in the most gentle and natural way.

The single most important thing you do for your skin to prevent premature aging and the discoloration, blotchiness, lines and wrinkles that come with it is to be sun smart. Yes, even on that cold, snowy day you need sun protection if you’re spending time outdoors, especially if you’re skiing since UV rays are more intense at higher altitudes. UV rays are present every day all year round, and they are responsible for 90 percent of how your skin ages. Beyond that, the colder drier weather can be very hard on the skin so be sure to avoid harsh deodorant or antibacterial soaps as they are especially harsh on your skin, compromising your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Instead, opt for mild, fragrance-free makeup removers and cleansers. Here are more of my favorite tips:

Moisturize your hands every time after washing. Trade in traditional hand sanitizer for a combination sanitizer that contains moisturizer or lotion. The FDA has now banned triclosan and other antibacterial ingredients, but you may still have these products at home so be sure to discard any remaining product in your cabinets. Skin can be extra dry during cold winter months, look for rich, creamy moisturizers and know that the best time to apply is right after the bath or shower or after washing or doing dishes. There are also excellent laser treatments to help remove sun spots from the hands and to improve skin texture. As the hand skin ages, the veins become more prominent and visible as well. There is now a soft tissue filler called Radiesse that has been FDA approved for rejuvenation of the hands. It helps your hands look younger and more beautiful in just one treatment.

Your neck and chest age more poorly, scar more easily and are much harder to fix than your face. There are new creams and products designed and tested just for this area to help brighten and rejuvenate. In office treatments such as chemical peels and fractional resurfacing, lasers can also work magic in contributing to improving the quality and strength of the skin in this area. Ultherapy has also been FDA cleared to tighten and improve lines and wrinkles on the chest and decollete the face and neck as well. The treatments should be done or supervised by an aesthetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon for the safest and best results.

Of course you want to put your best face forward for the holidays and every day. No one wants to look old. We talk about aging gracefully and accepting the process, which is great on paper, but looking old doesn’t mean you’re aging gracefully, and having a few lines and wrinkles doesn’t mean you look old. The best way is to have a great skin care routine every day and then treat yourself to an in-office session with your dermatologist for specialized treatments. Since the first Hyaluronic Acid (HA) soft tissue filler was FDA approved in the US in 2004, we have had ten new products approved in the country and hundreds available around the world to help you look soft, smooth and contoured. It’s been a game changer for those who want to enter the rejuvenation market without undergoing surgery, but there’s a lot to know before you get started. When considering a treatment-and deciding where to go to have it done-it is vital to consult with a board certified aesthetic physician such as a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for optimal outcomes.

The holidays are also about a lot of beautiful fragrances and aromas. These should be in candles and potpourri, not in your skin care products since the number one cause of allergies to products is from preservatives and fragrance. Avoid irritants often found in everyday products by selecting fragrance-free or dye-free options. Unscented means there’s a masking scent, and this is just another form of fragrance... designed not to have a smell.

The best high-antioxidant fruits and vegetables are readily available and fresh during the holiday season. Some of my favorites are cranberries, blueberries, pumpkin, pomegranate, and squash. These foods will help feed your skin from the inside out and keep it looking its youngest most beautiful best. Many of these are packed with water and can help you stay hydrated this holiday season.

Nothing makes a person more beautiful than gratitude and doing service for others. Life is full of ups and downs but remembering to be thankful of what we have brings out the best in how we look and feel. There’s strong science behind the power of positive thinking and positive expression. Even just smiling makes you look younger and feel happier—and it brings out the best in those around you too.

Your skin naturally repairs and rejuvenates while you sleep. You can apply creams and serums to help enhance the process, but there is no cream, serum, or pill that can replace what sleep does. Do your best to get a good seven-to-eight hours sleep during this special season, or take catnaps during the day to make up for extra hours of revelry.

Alcohol can dehydrate the skin and on top of that if you add the salty foods most people eat when they drink, it’s a perfect recipe for puffy eyes and dark circles when you wake up in the morning. Keep track of how many glasses of eggnog, wine or other drinks you have and try to match each ounce of alcohol with one glass of water. This will help you avoid dehydration and that hangover headache the next morning.

In the months to come, I’ll share my favorite treatments and concepts of beauty and also my favorite ingredients for you to look for, Happy Holidays!

Dr. Day, a dermatologist, is affiliated with NYU Langone Hospital.