Thanksgiving calories don’t count, do they?

While that may or may not be true (we swear, they don’t!), the effects of large, salty, sweet, heavy and fried foods soaking in your body have a an immediate, if not lasting effect hours later.

“Poor dietary choices can reveal themselves on the skin days after,” Dr. Michelle Henry, a dermatologist based out of NYC, tells us. “This can include swelling of the under eyes, inflammation, breakouts and acne.”

“If you have acne, your diet could be to blame,” says Dr. Dendy Engelman, a dermatologist based out of New York City. “There are a couple ways we can take a look at this when it comes to determining what is the worst food for you – one is obviously too much of something and second is if you have a food allergy (gluten, diary, etc.) which can lead to problems that manifest onto your skin.”

Though you’re not going to lay off that extra slice of pumpkin pie (I mean, why??), or go easy on the turkey drizzled in extra gravy, it’s good to know what effects an entire meal will have. Here, we’ve listed the most popular dishes below, how they do or don’t eff up you skin, and what you can do about it.

Your Thanksgiving meal. Here’s what your favorite foods do to you:

Turkey with gravy, Ham 

What it does: Puffy eyes and inflammation. “Salty Thanksgiving favorites like ham and many condiments can increase your sodium intake significantly,” says Dr. Henry. “Excess salt can cause water retention, which results in swelling.  This can cause puffy eyelids days after a salty meal.”

What you can do:  “Too much salt can cause water retention, which can lead to swelling, and because the skin around the eyes is so thin, it is where it appears first,” says Dr. Jeremy Brauer, a dermatologist in NYC.

“Rinse your face with cool water and with a cleanser like Cetaphil Men Daily Face Wash

Wash which is a lipid-free and soap-free. One side of the molecule bind to the oils, and the other water so it is able to remove surface impurities without stripping oils. Gentle massage the eye area with cool fingers to increase circulation and encourage lymphatic drainage around the eye area! Ta da!”


What it does: Can help defend sun damage. Depending on how you eat your corn (with or without butter or cream) the vegetable does wonders to you. “Corn has two antioxidants—lutein and zeaxanthin,” says Dr. Engelman. “They help to form macular pigment that filters out some of the sun’s damaging rays.”

What you can do:  Eat more corn (that is, if you eat it without anything on it, but who does that?)

Mashed potatoes; Bread

What it does: Acne, blemishes, breakouts. These Thanksgiving sides and ingredients are also high on the glycemic index, that is, any foods over 70. Any foods that are this high are said to cause acne, breakouts, and blemishes.

What you can do: Dr. Henry listed her favorite products to counteract acne-prone skin.

  • For congested skin: Look for something with charcoal like Freeman Beauty’s Charcoal & Black Sugar Facial Polishing Mask (Ulta, $4).
  • For oily skin (or dull skin that looks like there is a film of oil on it): Look no further than apple cider vinegar. It balances your skin – While removing oil from your skin, apple cider vinegar also helps to balance pH and keeps your skin from becoming too oily or too dry by balancing the production of sebum. Freeman Beauty 4-in-1 Apple Cider Vinegar Foaming Clay Mask (Ulta, $4)- (Plus, you can take a shot of it to boost your immunity and aid digestion).
  • For inbetween: Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes (Walgreens, $6) are perfect for gently lifting dirt, oil, and impurities from your pores.  They contain witch hazel and soothing aloe to rejuvenate and nourish all skin types. It is a great natural botanical that is also a potent acne fighter–It treats without over drying sensitive skin.

What it does: Vasodilatation (dilated blood vessels); dull skin. If you’re old enough to drink, alcohol can definitely dehydrate you.

What you can do: “If you’re joining in for the champagne toast, remember to limit yourself to one glass and keep yourself hydrated,” says Dr. Brauer. “Alcohol can also cause vasodilatation, which aggravates rosacea, and make your skin look dull. If skin is still dull the next day, it is nothing a mask can’t fix like this Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask ($9 at Memebox) that contains charcoal, green tea, and glycerin.”



What it does: Dehydrates skin. “Drinks like caffeine and soda (which contain caffeine) are diuretics which means they can dehydrate your skin,” says Dr. Brauer.

What you can do: Using a moisturizer around the clock works wonders. Dr. Brauer suggests this one from Cetaphil. Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer

($15.99 at


What it does: Causes acne, wrinkles, rashes. “Research shows dairy is highly inflammatory, which means it will aggravate acne, wrinkles, and rashes,” says Dr. Engelman.

What you can do: Opt for an alternative like Almond milk. For ice creams, go for one that’s coconut or soy based.

Cakes; Pies; Ice cream

What it does: Causes breakouts, saggy face, wrinkles, dull skin. Sugar not only triggers inflammation and breakouts, but it call also do more damage than imagined, says Dr. Engelman. “Eating too much of sugar can cause something called glycation,” she says. “It causes protein fibers to become stiff and malformed. When those proteins hook up with renegade sugars, they become discolored, weak and less supple.”

What you can do: Though it’s almost impossible, practice moderation when eating pies and cakes, she says.

Foods to have around more:

Berries: “Blueberries, cranberries and raspberries are great for the skin because they are packed with antioxidants, which help protect against free radical damage caused from sun and other environmental assaults,” says Dr. Engelman.

Kale salad: “Kale is one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that absorb and neutralize the free radicals created by UV light—including the wavelengths that actually get through sunscreen and reach your skin, according to research in Clinics in Dermatology,” she says. “Plus, just one cup gives you 134% and 133% of your daily value for skin-firming vitamin C and A, respectively.”

Greek yogurt: “Greek yogurt gives you a probiotic boost. Oral probiotics, like Ultimate Flora, normalize gut and skin flora in order to allow for optimal GI and skin function.”

Fish: “Diet for healthy, radiant skin should contain foods rich in omega-3 as well as antioxidants,” she explains. “Fatty fish is particularly rich in the type of omega-3 called DHA, an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation can lead to acne, rosacea, and accelerated signs of aging. Packing your diet with omega-3s (from fish like salmon and sardines) can help keep your skin clear. Walnuts are also a great source of omega-3s.”

Green tea: “In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2011, people who drank a beverage containing green tea polyphenols daily for 12 weeks had skin that was more elastic and smooth, and had one-quarter less sun damage when exposed to UV light compared to a control group,” she explains. “The brew’s catechins like EGCG (antioxidants) boost blood flow and oxygen to the skin, which delivers key nutrients to keep your complexion healthy.”


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