Skin after vacation – Why you get breakouts after your holiday

Whenever I get home from our annual France vacation, I know why Edith Piaf sang “Je ne regrette rien”, which loosely translates to “Sorry, not sorry” for those of us that are not fluent in French.

Because my skin after the vacation is usually a mess: Lots of blackheads and breakouts, irritation, dehydration – you name it, I have it.

Of course I know that first and foremost my diet consisting of Croissants, Chocolat Chaud and Saint Felicien (the best stinky cheese ever!) is to blame, which I am not willing to change, not even for the sake of beautiful skin, but I wondered if others had the same experience.


Skin after vacation - Why does it act up and what can you do about it?
Don´t pop you pimples! I have other tips for you…


So I did a quick and totally not double blind, randomized study among my friends to find out what they were most concerned with skin wise after being on holiday.

These are the most common skin concerns after vacation:

  • Congestion and breakouts
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Dehydrated skin
  • Dull skin

So let´s talk about each one of them, why they happen and what we can do to make our skin happy again.


The reasons for congested skin and breakouts

Everyone is quick to blame the mixture of sweat and sunscreen for that, but while they certainly need to take part of the blame, let´s take a step back and see what else does contribute to that.

Well, first and foremost a change in our skin care routine: Most of us don´t pack everything and the kitchen sink when they go away, but rely on a few selected products that, despite being favorites, might not tick all the boxes. (Sshh: I shared my Camper Van Travel Skincare Routine here, if you are curious!)


Nutrition plays a huge role in skin problems after vacation
Croissant at the beach – life doesn´t get much better than that.


Another reason we see an increase in congestion and consecutively breakouts is our nutrition. I mean, I have eaten my bodyweight in croissants and French Cheese over the course of the last two weeks and reduced the intake of vegetables by about the same amount. It would have been a miracle if that had NOT shown on my skin, let alone on the scales.

The last and often overlooked reason are the harsh weather conditions. Heat, wind, sun and salt water are damaging to our skins barrier, and with a disturbed skin barrier, an increase of breakouts is almost inevitable.


The reasons for increased Hyperpigmentation after your vacation

Even if you are very good at applying and reapplying your SPF (and I bet you are, given that you watch my channel), some hyperpigmentation will reappear. More often than not it is an old one, reminder of the days when you were less concerned about the sun or when due to pregnancy your hormones gave you melasma.

But why do they keep coming back? Well, the accumulation of melanocytes in one part of your face due to inflammation or hormones is not reversible, just the deposit of melanin is. The melanin can either grow out (exfoliation helps) or be reversed to a non-pigmented form (Vitamin C is your friend here), but the melanocytes will produce it again whenever they are triggered.

(Click here to read how Vitamin C can help you fade your dark spots)

And I don´t know about you, but despite reapplying my SPF and wearing a hat most of the time, I do still catch more sun than I would do at home.


The reasons why your skin is more dehydrated after vacation

Wind, sun, salt water, probably less sleep and maybe even more alcohol – I don´t think we need to look for any more reasons here.

Everything I mentioned will damage your skin barrier, which in turn increases TransEpidermal WaterLoss (TEWL), which – vicious circle – impairs the skins barrier function again.

But not only that, on dehydrated skin your foundation has a tendency to settle into your pores much quicker, so your makeup will start looking off.

(If you want to learn more about your skins barrier function, click here)


The reasons why your skin looks dull after your vacation

On the beach your skin had a beautiful glow but now you are back it just looks tired? Well, sweat and SPF were probably mainly responsible for giving you the glow you craved, and now that your home, your skin shows how it truly looks.

The reason is, once again, the damaged skin barrier, a reduction in your skins exfoliation and the above mentioned dehydration.

Did you know that sun exposure actually reduces the exfoliation rate of your skin, in an attempt to increase the skins innate protection from the sun by adding more layers of dead skin cells? It doesn´t help much in terms of actual protection factor, but you can see it on your skin for sure.

All these things make your skins surface more uneven if you look at it with a microscope, and an uneven surface doesn´t reflect the light quite as good as a smooth and polished one does – and that means: No glow!


How do you get the skin after vacation back to smooth and glowing?

The good news is: Most of it kind of fixes itself once we return home to our regular diet, our regular climate and our full stash of skin care products.

But even if you have all your products available now: Keep your skin barrier in mind! Don´t start throwing every harsh exfoliating treatment at your face now, gentle is the way to go.


Skin after vacation
Get on all the hydrating layers


Step 1

Your first aim should be to heal and rehydrate your skin. and the way to do that is to minimize potential irritants and focus on hydration.

Ingredients to look for are Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide and Ceramides and then a good moisturizer to seal everything in.


Go to town with hydrating masks, face mists, layer on the toners, whatever you feel works best.


pixi Retinol Line
There are plenty of options to choose from


Step 2

Once you have found your skin doesn´t crave all the hydration anymore, it is time to target the rest of the problems.

A chemical exfoliant once or maybe twice a week will bring the glow back and help reduce congestion, while Vitamin C will help lighten existing hyperpigmentation.

Now is also the perfect time to (re)start retinoids, should you have stopped them over the course of summer. Sun intensity is reduced, but the weather is still mild, so the risk of your skin being irritated by the cold is less than it would be in winter.

Retinoids work really well in reducing hyperpigmentation and congestion, but if you don´t get along with them, you could talk to your doctor about ingredients like hydroquinone to tackle the stubborn hyperpigmentation that exfoliation and Vitamin C just can´t seem to move.


Now tell me in the comments: How did your skin survive the summer?


Is your skin causing trouble after your vacation? Here is why and what you can do to fix it.
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