Trust Me, a Skin Detox Could Be Just What You Need to Clear January Breakouts

The New Year is supposed to be a time to embrace a fresh start. Whether you’ve vowed to hit the gym every day or promised yourself you’ll start getting earlier nights, January is usually filled with self-fulfilment. However, when it comes to any kind of skincare resolution, January isn’t always the best time to get stuck in.

While pre-Christmas my skin was radiant, breakout-free and generally in pretty good shape (if I do say so myself), after two weeks of overindulgence, I saw in the New Year with a complexion plagued with sore, red zits. And in fact, spots weren’t my only issue. I found that my skin was dryirritated and, in some areas, even flaky. It was as though this was my body’s way of punishing me for having too much fun over the festive period. Luckily, having learned from previous mistakes, this time around I knew exactly what I needed to do. It was time for a skin detox.

Skin Detox: Mask



This time last year, I was slathering my face in any and every spot-blitzing product available in attempt to clear up my skin. Then, when my face dried up, I drenched it in hydrating ingredients. I followed self-prescribed 10-step regimens and layered on serum after serum, suffocating my skin with active ingredients. Come spring, things weren’t looking too great. In fact, they were 10 times worse than they had been in the New Year. After months of trying to fix my own mess, I finally decided it was time to get some expert help.

It turned out that my skin needed one serious detox, and it was about 10 months too late. Pamela Marshall, clinical aesthetician and co-founder of Mortar & Milk, explains, “The festive season can negatively affect our skin in a number of ways. Lack of sleep, stepping outside of normal food routines and increased alcohol intake all have an impact. A long hormonal domino effect will eventually leave our sebaceous glands overproducing sebum. Too much sebum causes an inflammatory response with an acne spot. On top of all of that, alcohol and cold weather can leave us red and inflamed.”

And while I understood that my skin was in need of some help post–New Year, I couldn’t figure out quite why my thorough routine made the situation worse. “We are conditioned to believe that if we have a breakout, we need to use a load of aggressive actives, and that isn’t always the truth. Too many actives can actually make breakouts worse, inflame the skin and compromise its barrier function,” explains Pamela. 

Sound like something you can relate to? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about giving your skin a new year detox.


Skin Detox: How Do I Know If I Need A Skin Detox?



Simply put, if your skin is really playing up this January, a skin detox is likely to be beneficial. In fact, your skin could benefit from a skin detox in any situation where it looks like it might need some TLC.

As consultant dermatologist Anjali Mahto, BSc, MBBCh, FRCP, reveals, “If you have sensitive skin and suffer from eczema, acne or rosacea, you might find it’s best to avoid products with certain ingredients that may irritate your skin. Be cautious of using those that contain the following: alcohol, fragrance, ammonium lauryl sulphate, sodium lauryl sulphate, methylisothiazolinone, essential oils, witch hazel and menthol.” She also cautions staying away from exfoliant scrubs or harsh toners which can cause further problems.

“Less is more,” she continues. “Complex skin routines and mixing multiple active ingredients can lead to irritation. You can curate your own pared-back routine by picking skincare items wisely and looking for those that have multipurpose functions.”


A more streamlined skincare regimen will ensure that you’re not confusing your skin and making sure it only gets exactly what it needs, stripping it back to the bare minimum. “Just because there are 50 different ingredients on the market, it doesn't mean we need to use all 50 of them. Using a stripped-back, targeted skincare regimen, designed for your skin type and issues, is much more effective than adding every 'on-trend' ingredient to your routine; it can be cheaper and quicker too,” says Mahto.

On top of the fact your skin will thank you for it, giving your skin a bit of a detox is also likely going to save you time and money. Say goodbye to your half-hour skincare routine of 2019 and welcome a shorter, more simplistic regimen. Plus, it might even help stop you buying unnecessary product.


Unlike a diet detox, when I’m talking about a skin detox, I mean giving it a real break from all of the products you subject it to every day. It’s about stripping everything right back and only giving your 'skin the ingredients it really needs every day.

“First of all, stop using multiple active ingredients, such as acids and retinols, immediately. Do not apply any scrubs or harsh exfoliators to the skin and use simple, unfragranced products. Skincare routines do not need to be complicated or overly time-consuming,” advises Mahto.

So what sort of products should you be looking for? Think of your skincare as a six-item set up: cleanser, moisturiser, morning serum, evening serum, SPF and a weekly treatment. Mahto advises this: “Your skincare routine very much depends on your skin type or concern that needs to be addressed. I think the basics of any good skincare routine should include an antioxidant serum and sunscreen in the morning and a retinoid product at night.”

Sound like something you might be interested in?  Keep scrolling for the best products to help compile your skin detox line up.


Containing a low concentration of non-irritating PHAs, this super-gentle cleanser is the perfect face wash for both morning and night. It's even gentle enough to take your makeup off. 

A favourite amongst beauty editors, this simple yet effective cleansing gel might not feel as though you're giving your skin a deep cleanse, but results prove that when it comes to skin, gentle is best.

Use this creamy cleansing gel to remove makeup, bust grime or simply give your face a morning refresh. Its creamy slip makes it the perfect choice for those that like their skincare regimen to feel a little more luxe. 

Don't be thrown off by the fact that this clever gel is marketed towards sensitive skin. It's super gentle, sure, but that's not to say it doesn't work for other skin types too. It offers a deep cleanse with minimal discomfort.

It might not look like much, but just know that what's inside this rather unsightly bottle is basically liquid gold. Perfect for anyone with breakout-prone skin, this stuff is packed with skin-loving actives such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid. 

Antioxidant Serum

Ut's easy to be put off by the price of this one, but I promise you, it's worth every single penny. Commonly regarded amongst beauty buffs as one of the most coveted vitamin C serums around, just a few days of using this stuff will have skin noticeably brighter and more even.  

If you find that your skin is dull and speckled with areas of pigmentation, this powerful serum is sure to help. In fact, it helps improve your skin's appearance in just about every way possible. 

Unlike other potent antioxidant serums, this little bottle is kind on the bank balance. Also setting this formula apart from other serums is its exceptionally high strength. It's all you need to help fend off free-radical damage and keep any unwanted signs of ageing in check.

Full of nourishing hyaluronic acid and a hearty dose of vitamin C, this serum packs a punch of hydration and radiance all at once. Plus, it's far cheaper than some of its competitors. 


If you hate the thick, smothering feeling of SPF, this lightweight formula from Kiehl's is worth your attention. Slather on a generous layer in the morning and within a few minutes, you will have totally forgotten it's there.

Often, SPF can leave a shiny layer over the skin, which those with oilier skin types might want to avoid. This mineral suncream dries down to a beautiful matte finish, keeping sweat in check all day. 

While most SPFs have a tendency of leaving an unsightly white veil across the skin, leaving behind an ashy complexion, this clever stuff absorbs without a trace. Plus, it smells divine.


If you find that your skin often reacts to retinol, this stuff is hailed as being the best option for those with a temperamental complexion. Expect brighter, more even skin come morning, with minimal irritation.

Be warned: This stuff means business. It's definitely worth building your skin up to using this, and it's definitely not for retinol newbies. With that being said, if you're skin seems happy enough with the formula, you're onto a real winner.

Perfect for those that have never used retinol before, this gentle moisturiser can be used once a week to begin with before you steadily increase your applications. Eventually, your skin will be tolerant enough of retinol to move onto stronger formulas. 

This powerful concoction of vitamin C and E along with a low strength retinoid is ideal for sensitive skin. If your skin is playing up with breakouts or irritation, swap out any strong retinols for this stuff and minimise the risk of any further aggravation. 


Perfect for dry skin that doesn't like being suffocated, this lightweight water cream might feel light on first touch, but its high content of hyaluronic acid claims to increase skin's hydration levels by 86%.

From Japan's leading skincare brand for sensitive skin comes this nourishing lotion. Besides the fact it's jam-packed with skin-repairing ceramides and it's insanely hydrating, I love the fact it comes with a pump to keep out bacteria.

It might sound a little odd, but this no-fuss moisturiser is actually formulated with goat milk. Used by ancient Egyptians to nourish skin, it turns out it's just as wonderful an ingredient today as it was then. Whenever my skin isn't playing ball, this is the first product I reach for.

favourite amongst celebs and makeup artists, Weleda Skin Food is just about the most well-loved beauty product to have ever existed. If your skin is especially dry and it crying out for some attention, I highlight recommend giving this a go (especially if you love a glow). 


If you battle with giant pores in the same way that I do, this could be a real life saver. Whenever I need my skin to be looking tip-top, I slather a thick layer of this all over and leave it for five minutes. Once washed off my skin is left glowing and my pores are way less visible. 

These little pads are so good that I actually cut mine into halves to make them last longer. Drenched in a concoction of PHAs and vitamins, they work to gently exfoliate the skin while delivering a hefty dose of moisture. If your skin is playing up, switch out any heavy acids that you might use for these; you might not ever switch back.

Unlike some other clarifying masks, this nourishing solution doesn't dry out the skin even a little bit. With zinc oxide and sulphur to target breakouts and spots, using this mask once a week in the evenings will help keep winter skin in check. 

If your new year skin isn't sensitive, these serum pads might be worth a try. Similar to the Exuviance ones, these also contain PHAs to exfoliate and offer hydration, however, they also contain the powerful AHA glycolic acid for a more thorough exfoliation. Use two to three times a week in the evening for radiant skin come morning.

Related Stories