Does Alcohol Affect Your Skin?
You may have noticed that after a night of a ‘few too many’ your skin is not looking as fresh and radiant as you would like it. For your all-round good health, excessive alcohol consumption is always best avoided, but even the occasional evening of higher-than-usual alcohol intake causes several reactions in your body that can lead to a visible change in your skin as well.
If you really want healthy, glowing skin, you could stop drinking alcohol altogether. But for those of us who want to still enjoy the occasional drink, the most effective way to avoid these alcohol skin reactions from happening is not to drink alcohol excessively and to always drink responsibly.
What Does Alcohol Do To Your Skin?
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes the kidneys release water, which can often lead to dehydration. When your body loses moisture your skin can become dry, and dry skin is more prone to wrinkles and signs of ageing. Increased water loss can also drain your body of the important vitamins essential for the maintenance of healthy skin cells.
Heavy drinking can also lead to an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) which leads to oxidative stress and DNA damage. It also boosts the levels of stress hormone cortisol in our body which accelerates the ageing process, decreases the skin’s repair mechanisms, and makes the skin look less radiant.
Many alcoholic drinks are high in sugar which damages the collagen and elastin fibres in our dermis leading to loss of plumpness. Alcohol can also have a vasodilatory effect, where the blood vessels open up and blood flow increases, causing facial flushing and redness in the skin. Excessive consumption and alcohol abuse, can cause more severe issues and leave you susceptible to the skin condition rosacea, skin infections, and even skin cancer.
So overall, you can see alcohol affects your skin in a number of ways. When you consider the impact on your skin of drinking alcohol over a number of years, it becomes clear that to maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin, a skincare routine that supports your body in combatting the effects of your alcohol consumption is key - more on this in a minute.
Which type of alcohol affects your skin the most?
While heavy alcohol consumption should generally always be avoided, some types of alcohol can be worse than others when it comes to the impact their consumption has on your skin.
Dark spirits (e.g. whiskey, brandy, dark rum)
As well as potentially making your hangover worse, if you drink dark spirits they can have more of an impact on how your skin looks. Dark spirits like whiskey and brandy contain a number of congeners – chemicals such as tannins and methanol produced during fermentation, which can dehydrate your skin. Darker spirits also tend to have a higher alcohol content, so they have more of an effect on your skin.
White wine & cocktails
If you're fond of the odd glass of wine or post-work cocktail, you should know that these often contain much higher levels of sugar. This can lead to a decrease in the levels of Glycosaminoglycans (or GSGs) which can lead to a breakdown in the elastin and collagen in the skin. This high sugar content can also result in your skin looking dull and puffy.
Clear spirits (vodka, gin, white rum)
Light colored beverages like bourbon, vodka, gin tequila have minimal additives and tend to be processed more quickly by the body, thus reducing the potential harm to the skin. Clear spirits in moderation might even be considered to have some skin benefits - for example, gin is often made from juniper berries, which are considered a super food, and can improve the circulation and elasticity of the face; and vodka has also been credited with disinfecting the skin and tightening the pores.
Dry red wine is the only drink which actually has some benefits as it contains the antioxidant Resveratrol and other polyphenols - but overdoing it will also mitigate any positive effects! Red wine is one of the worst culprits for vasodilation, which means drinking too much of it can leave your skin looking red and flushed.
How to reduce the effects of alcohol on your skin?
If you enjoy drinking alcohol but also want to reduce the impact alcohol has on your skin, there are a number of things you can do. For example, get enough water. This may seem obvious, but when you consider the dehydrating effects of alcohol, you can see why water is so important. During the night Faye Purcell, the development Chemist of q-plusA skin care, recommends putting a pint of H20 on the dehydrated skin.
You should also look at developing a skincare routine that helps support your skin in combatting and recovering from the various ways alcohol affects it.
- To counteract the dehydrating effect of drinking alcohol, you will need some mega hydrators like Polyglutamic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid in your skincare regime.
- The oxidative stress and DNA damage caused by the increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) can be mitigated by using an antioxidant product - something with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Resveratrol or Astaxanthin.
- Your alcohol intake can mean your skin lacks radiance, and the best way to bring back that glow is by using treatment, serum or mask with exfoliating enzymes or acids to restore and hydrate. Why not try FaceGym's Hydro-Bound Daily Serum. With a skin-drenching blend of Polyglutamic Acid and Multi-Molecular Ha4, Hydro-Bound delivers hydration and helps the skin naturally produce Hyaluronic Acid to restore moisture.
- Damaged collagen and elastin fibres in our dermis from high-sugar alcoholic drinks can lead to loss of plumpness. Vitamin C and Retinol have both been shown to boost collagen production and lead to smoother, plumper skin.
Enjoy drinking (sensibly) & healthy skin
Your skin will almost certainly benefit from a reduced alcohol intake when you moderate your drinking habits and avoid excessive drinking. But by understanding the effects of alcohol on the skin and upping your skincare game to help counteract these, you can give your body the nutrients and support it needs to help maintain healthy-looking skin.