For all the fuss we make about New Year’s resolutions, it’s more than a little ironic that many of us wake up on January 1st feeling like the worst possible versions of ourselves. Happy New Year, and happy hangover.
Medically speaking, a hangover results in “excess amounts of ethanol, which is both a liver and neurotoxin, forcing your body to excrete more water,” says Dr. Richard Firshein, a specialist in integrative medicine and the founder of the Firshein Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “By acting as a diuretic, ethanol causes dehydration and diverts needed resources like electrolytes and antioxidants, which the body uses to reduce side effects. Toxic byproducts, such as ammonia and acetaldehyde, [thus] build up and continue to affect the body negatively.”
Science aside, you know what it feels like: nausea, upset stomach, fatigue, dizziness, an inability to focus, and (of course) a monstrous headache. But that’s just what’s going on inside your body—hangovers also have a cruel way of manifesting themselves right on your face.
“Drinking alcohol makes you lose all your water, so your body responds by holding onto every drop of water it has,” explains celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas. “The result is bloating, with a puffy face and dilated capillaries on the cheeks.”
While there’s no guaranteed way to beat a hangover, there are a few things you can do to try and prevent one from happening. And if all else fails, there are a few tricks you can have up your sleeve to make your face look the next morning like you just drank from the fountain of youth—not the bottom of a keg. Below, our experts’ guide you.
STOCK YOUR MEDICINE CABINET
Two things you’ll need in regular rotation are a Calcium Magnesium supplement ($34, MegaFood) and Advil ($4, Target). A few Advil (or ibuprofen, its generic form) taken after drinking and before bed will help curb your headache the next day, while Calcium Magnesium will promote better sleep, and may aid in smoother digestion. Repeat the Advil with a glass of water in the morning. (Do yourself a favor and stash both bottles in your nightstand.)
STOCK YOUR FRIDGE
“Hangovers are so acute that it’s often difficult to get enough fluid and electrolytes,” says Dr. Firshein. “Coconut water and green juices are helpful,” he says. Look for juices with ingredients like romaine, celery, cucumber, kale, lemon, and ginger, Vargas recommends. “The greens stimulate the lymphatic system, which prevent breakouts,” she says. Ginger—on its own or blended into your juice or smoothie—will combat your dizziness, nausea, and upset stomach. While it’s always best to order fresh, that’s not always realistic for an unplanned night of boozing. Instead, make sure your fridge is regularly stocked with things like Harmless Harvest Coconut Water ($4, Amazon) and Suja Mighty Dozen Green Juice ($4, Target).
But, Dr. Firshein says, “true hydration actually requires things like protein and fat.” Instead of answering this conundrum with, say, a greasy bagel sandwich (which will actually make your stomach and fatigue worse throughout the day), try making or ordering a smoothie with things like avocado and flax seed. (That sandwich, of course, will also work its own kind of magic.)
And finally, to get rid of that excess puffiness around your face and eyes, keep a few shots of chlorophyll handy. “It will drain your face and give you energy,” Vargas says, “plus it will act as your skin’s savior for the day.” Try keeping a bottle of Peak Performance Liquid Chlorophyll ($20, Amazon) handy.
STOCK YOUR FREEZER
The most tell-tale signs of hangovers will of course be the puffiness around your face—bloating that mostly occurs around the eyes and cheeks, but can sometimes happen along the jawline, too. The best way to beat puffiness is simple: extreme cold.
“The Old Hollywood trick of plunging your face into a bowl of ice water really does work,” says celebrity makeup artist Beau Nelson. “It’s unpleasant, but also weirdly refreshing at the same time.” If you’re brave enough, grab a large bowl and fill it with ice and water. Then, dunk your face in and hold it for as long as you can—the cold will tighten pores, reduce redness, and de-puff you almost instantly.
Of course, that’s an extreme measure. More practical: purchase a face roller—little wands, usually made of metal or crystal, that are designed to give your face a massage. Try Herbivore Jade Facial Roller ($30, Sephora), and keep it in your freezer for emergencies. This magic stick is incredibly simple to use, so don’t complicate it: Roll it under your eyes, vertically across your forehead, and underneath your cheek and jawbones, applying firm pressure as you go. This little massage you’re giving yourself is actually something called “lymphatic drainage,” which you’d typically only get during an expensive facial. “Massaging with a firm touch will help reduce puffiness, and will increase blood circulation so you look healthier right away,” Nelson says.
To top it all off, order an extra of your favorite eye cream, and keep it in the fridge. The same rules about colder temperatures apply.
After you’ve cooled off, you should immediately apply a face and/or eye mask to boost your complexion. “Exfoliating is basically a mini-facial, and it brings back a glow immediately,” Vargas says. “It evens out pigment and takes down inflammation.” Her very own Exfoliating Mask ($75, Amazon) is a life-saver—leave it on for 10 or 15 minutes, avoiding the eye area.
For the eyes, you may have seen “patches” all over Instagram. These stick-on masks are usually made of a gel, which helps to cool, soothe, and hydrate the undereye area for an instantly refreshed look. At the same time you’re allowing your face to exfoliate, stick on a Talika Eye Therapy Patch ($49, Amazon). These things will become your new secret weapon—I promise. (And if the eye mask is too much for you, Vargas recommends a homemade alternative: “Chamomile tea bags are a great solution. Steep them in hot water, then put them in the fridge for a few hours,” she says. Once cool to the touch, just lay them on top of your eyes for five minutes.)
It’s common logic to load up on coconut water the morning after a rough night—so that same methodology of maximum hydration should apply to your face. Always start with hyaluronic acid—this is basically the hero ingredient of moisture, and will supercharge whatever you apply after it. Try The Ordinary Hylaruonic Acid Serum ($7, Sephora). After, your skin will soak up a generous helping of an ultra-rich gel moisturizer like Clark Botanicals Smoothing Marine Cream ($115, Amazon). For your eyes, rollerball products like the Clinique for Men Anti-Fatigue Eye Gel ($33, Ulta) are a life-saver—the metal applicator cools and massages as you apply. Just tap on excess product with your ring finger afterwards.)
AND CHEAT THE REST
If you are hungover and need to face the day—a work meeting, a family meal, another event—skincare will only take you so far. In case you’re still in need of a boost, there are a few tricks Nelson keeps handy.
Primers are generally designed to apply under makeup—but in your case, you can use them to create the illusion of smooth, even skin. “Brightening formulas after your moisturizer will add radiance, and they often contain anti-redness ingredients without adding any coverage of color.” You can typically use these formulas all over your face, and even under your eyes (a tiny, dime-sized amount will go a long way). The bonus is that primers usually are made with silicone or silica-based ingredients, which keep oil at bay throughout the day, so they’re often recommended for guys with overactive t-zones. In this case, Nelson recommends the Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer ($38, Sephora).
Next, a bit of concealer goes a long way. “Apply it to the inner part of the hollow of your eye, where the darkness is,” Nelson suggests. He recommends the Dior Forever Concealer ($34, Sephora), which is both self-setting and waterproof. Purchase it in a shade that matches your skin tone.
And finally, if you’re the kind of guy who gets a pale or sallow complexion when you’re sick, a bit of color will help you look healthier. “Liquid bronzer is a great way to give your face a little life—if applied with a light hand.” The Tom Ford for Men Bronzing Gel ($90, Amazon) can go on right after moisturizer—just put a pea-sized amount on your fingertips, run between both hands, and apply all over the face evenly until it’s completely absorbed.
Originally Appeared on GQ