Sh**, I Ate the Whole Pie: 7 Acne Damage-Control Tips for the Holidays

Festive woman frowns at a cupcake.

Have fun and enjoy clear skin this holiday season.

It’s that time of year again.


Egg nog.


Holiday parties. (How can you not drink when forced to socialize with your partner’s coworkers? Yes please, fill ‘er up…)

Pie. Caramels. Fudge. Did I say cookies?

It can be hard to keep your clear skin goals on track when faced with a plate full of decorated desserts your grandma made. And the extra busy-ness that comes with planning, shopping, wrapping, cooking, and traveling has our to-do lists overflowing with… uh… joy. Or no, wait, I think that feeling is stress – yep, definitely stress. And that’s not helping your skin, either.

What’s a girl (or guy) to do? Because the last thing you want right before you see your hot cousin this one time this year is a faceful of breakouts. (No, really, I usually look way better than this, Svetla…)

If you’ve read around our website, you already know that we’re all about curing acne naturally, by making changes to your diet and lifestyle, rather than with drugs and dermatology. And you probably also know that sugar, dairy, and other inflammatory foods are big acne triggers for most acne-sufferers. And these are extra hard to avoid this time of year!

To help you navigate the holiday scene without triggering acne (and while still having fun), we bring you these seven tips.

#1: Don’t skimp on sleep.

With the December 25 (or whatever the date of your holiday(s) of choice) deadline looming, it’s easy to stay up all night wrapping presents in Santa’s workshop so you can sneak them into children’s houses at night. (What, you don’t do that??) Regardless of what’s keeping you busy, don’t compromise your sleep schedule. Sleep is even more important during times of stress, so get your 8-10 hours a night. You’ll function more efficiently the next day, and your skin and hormones will be calmer and happier.

#2: Don’t go out on an empty stomach.

Unless they’re serving dinner, you can be sure that the food options at that holiday party will be of the sugary, gluteny variety, or maybe the creamy, cheesy, vegetable-oil-laden variety. Instead of facing the choice between 1) hungrily munching on a vegetable garnish while making googly eyes at whipped-cream-laden pies and 2) tossing all your skin-friendly intentions out the window, eat a healthy, satisfying meal just before you go.

#3: Give yourself permission to taste “off-the-diet” foods.

You don’t have to be a clear-skin martyr when gramma offers you a piece of her famous pecan pie – you know, the one that gives you the warm fuzzies; the one that means “love” deep down. Instead,  give yourself permission to taste foods, even if they include potentially acne-triggering ingredients. When doing this, do it mindfully – really taste the food, feel the textures in your mouth, smell the smells, so that you get the most enjoyment out of the experience.

Unless you have a food allergy, very small amounts of these foods – a bite or two – aren’t going to have much impact on your skin in the short term. And in fact, if you feel happier and less deprived as a result of enjoying those nostalgic flavors, your skin will benefit!

#4: Enjoy 1-2 drinks (or less) at parties.

Man in Santa hat passed out with empty bottles.

Don’t be this guy.

A little good ol’ fashioned social lubrication – especially if tastes like egg nog! – is to be expected at festive gatherings, but don’t go overboard. Nothing sends all your good intentions (not to mention sleep quality) out the window like getting too tipsy. So if you tolerate alcohol well, you might imbibe enough to laugh at your boss’s jokes, but not so much that you lose track of your healthy skin goals.

(Also, whenever possible, go for non-sugary, non-dairy drinks. Straight liquor or liquor mixed with unsweetened fruit juices are good choices.)

#5: Drink 2-3 cups of green tea a day for 3 days after a holiday binge.

The EGCG in green tea (and white in black tea, in smaller concentrations) can really help douse any inflammation that last night’s indulgences may have provoked. So skip the coffee, and reach for the green stuff.

#6: Take a double dose of vitamin A for 3 days after a holiday binge.

Retinol-form vitamin A is great at preventing breakouts before they start, so add this to your damage-control repertoire. Take an extra dose of vitamin A, retinol-form, daily for 3 days. (If you haven’t taken vitamin A yet, check out our blog post for more information.)

#7: Stay on top of your other supplements.

Even if your diet has been a little wonky lately, you can still help your skin by sticking to a skin-supporting supplement routine. Making sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin D, zinc, and a high-quality probiotic doesn’t take time out of your busy schedule, and can help tide you over til New Year’s resolution time! 🙂

BONUS TIP: If you don’t have a copy of our book yet, check it out! Like our blog, it’s called Clear Skin Forever, and it spells out our complete diet-and-lifestyle-based approach to curing acne. Start reading it today so you’ll be ready to make some powerful changes for your skin once the holiday din dies down! Learn more here.

And most of all…

…remember to have some fun and take care of you as the year comes to a close.

Wishing everyone warm, happy holidays from Bend, Oregon, USA,

Sonia & Devin

Sonia & Devin

Sources (click to expand)


  1. Zeti says

    Do acne has any relationship with the leaky gut problem ? Or maybe candida overgrowth? Does your book touches with those problems ? Bcs I don’t know what causes my acne . I started to Google many of the root causes of acne and turns up , many of the websites touch these problems, and sometimes I feel like I have leaky gut because leaky gut cause food sensitivities right ? And some of the websites recommended to do an elimination diet plan . My god . I’m really confused right now !

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Zeti! There’s a HUGE link between leaky gut issues and acne. Candida as well. Our book touches on digestive health quite a bit, and our approach covers digestive health from many angles (including healing leaky gut, addressing SIBO / dysbiosis, etc.). Hope this helps!

  2. Shwetha says

    Hai Devin,
    I am 22 year acne has made my life very miserable..I have been following your blog last from 2 months…cut out all the diary,started in taking green tea..but I haven’t seen any improvement in my skin nor acne..please help me how can I prevent my acne …

  3. Precious Zuko Mayekiso says

    Good day Devin and Sonia,

    this is Precious Zuko Mayekiso a 20 year old from Johannesburg, South-Africa to cut a long story short. I’ve got mild acne but it sucks as I used to have the smoothest skin in the family my breakouts started this year around May I’ve bought a lot of products for my acne even though I knew the problem lies deep within ,but you know desperation can make you do things…
    I’ve recently registered with Pay pal in order to purchase CSF but I failed Cos I’m an intern and I use debit account and they require a cheques but I don’t qualify since I’ve less then a year in my JOB(6 Months) …WHAT HURTS the most is when you got the money and you got the solution at the tip of your hand but to get it seems impossible are probably any other alternatives of purchasing the book wish are not on the internet, your response will be HIGHLY APPRECIATED PLEASE RESPOND at :[email protected] alternatively my personal one [email protected] I’d prefer the [email protected], cos I spend most of my days in my Works PC.

    kind regards
    Precious Zuko Mayekiso

  4. Kaye says

    What are your thoughts on drinking red wine at holiday parties? It’s usually my go to “safe” drink, since I can sip on it all night and it’s got all those tannins and antioxidants. Is straight up liquor with a non-sugary mixer a better option? Should I be drinking gin and tonics instead?

    Thanks for the Holiday post!

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Kaye, glad you enjoyed the post! I think you’re pretty safe with both options, red wine and non-sugary liquor drinks. Just keep it slow + steady, and I’d limit to something like 2-3 drinks if you can!

  5. Steve says

    Hi there, i love your website!
    So much no nonsense, straight to the point and well explained information all in one spot is hard to find these days! Do you mind giving me your opinion on something please?
    I just started to take some Zinc, D3 and EGCG supplements and I’m considering on taking a B complex supplement as well because at the moment my diet isn’t as complete as i would like it to be because I’m going through an elimination diet right now.
    From what i have read a B complex won’t necessarily help cure my acne but do you think it might actually be harmful instead? What’s your advice on it? Thank you for your time!

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Steve! Nope, didn’t delete your question – we have to vet all comments before approving them though, to reduce spam! Sorry for the confusion! 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoyed the article! As for the B complex, the main issue as far as acne is concerned is high-dose B12, which can trigger/worsen acne in some people. If you eat meat, you’re probably fine on B12, in which case you could look for a B complex with little or no B12. Couple hundred percent range is probably not a huge deal – it’s the mega-B12, 1,000%+ or 10,000%+ type B12 supplements that tend to be more of a problem. You might not have an issue either way – most things acne-related have a ton of individual variation.

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