Dermatologists Break Down Exactly What Happens to Your Skin When You Drink Alcohol
Let's be real: No one looks their best after a night spent drinking alcohol. Smeared makeup, blotchy cheeks, and dark under-eye circles are typical after a boozy rendezvous (bless you, concealer.) But other than the annoying short-term effects of a hangover, what are the long-term effects of alcohol on skin? As it turns out, that extra glass of wine with dinner (as good as it tastes) isn't doing you any favors.
According to dermatologists, drinking alcohol can not only affect the appearance of your skin the day after drinking but eventually, heavy alcohol consumption can harm your skin health permanently. No wonder sober J.Lo is famous for her glowing complexion.
Below, dermatologists break down three main effects of alcohol on skin—plus, four ways to remedy the issue. Hey, everyone deserves to indulge from time to time if they want to.
Effects of alcohol on skin:
It's no secret that alcohol dehydrates your body (we've all woken up after a night of drinking with our mouth feeling like the desert), and the same goes for your skin. "Alcohol is a diuretic, which increases urination," dermatologist Marina Peredo, M.D., tells HelloGiggles. "So, your body releases an excessive amount of water and salt when you drink. This leaves the skin looking dehydrated, dull, and blotchy. "
Additionally, Dr. Peredo says that if you're a regular drinker, developing premature aging signs like wrinkles and fine lines is not an uncommon side effect of alcohol consumption over time.
Do you know someone who always looks flushed after sipping a tequila soda? Well, there's a scientific reason for those rosy cheeks. "Alcohol can cause a shift in your hormones and inflame the skin by releasing histamine," Dr. Peredo explains. "This dilates the facial blood cells and causes redness, dryness, and puffiness."
Plus, redness can extend past your skin tone. "Drinking can also cause redness of the eyes," says board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D. "Your eyes might not look rested the next morning and you may notice dark under-eye circles and dull appearance."
Too often, our skin loves to punish us for a rowdy weekend with a big pimple on our face—and this isn't just a coincidence. "Alcohol can cause flare-ups for those with acne-prone skin," Dr. Peredo says. "Due to the shift in hormones creating more oil and sebum when drinking alcohol, this can lead to clogged pores and breakouts."
How to combat side effects of alcohol on skin:
1. Stay hydrated.
Of course, hydration is important for overall health every day, not just on days when you're consuming alcohol. However, it's especially vital to your overall well-being to drink extra water when you know you'll be tossing back a glass or two of wine at night.
"When drinking alcohol, you should alternate sipping water to help stay hydrated," Dr. Peredo recommends. "Liquid IV's Hydration Multiplier can provide many benefits while drinking and the morning after. It's a powder that you pour into water that contains sodium, potassium, and glucose that provides twice the amount of hydration as opposed to water."
2. Choose your drink wisely.
Everyone has their go-to alcoholic beverage, but beware that some are better for your skin health than others. "Avoid dark liquors which have high levels of congener chemicals, which can dehydrate you quicker," Dr. Peredo says. "Stay away from carbonated alcohol like seltzers and mixed beverages due to the added sugar, as the high sugar content in alcohol can cause inflammation and damage elastin and collagen production." Our condolences, White Claw enthusiasts.
Instead, Dr. Peredo recommends opting for clear liquors like vodka, gin, and tequila—or red wine. "In moderation, red wine contains antioxidants that can combat free radicals," she explains. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Elyse Love gives wine her stamp of approval, too: "Red wine is rich in skin healthy polyphenols." Now that's what we like to hear.
4. Exfoliate and moisturize.
After a night of drinking, your skin will likely feel dry and flaky due to dehydration—but Dr. Peredo has a remedy: "CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser is great as an exfoliant because it has active ingredients like niacinamide, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid," she explains. "When combined, they act as a protective barrier for the skin and give it a boost of hydration to combat dryness."
Plus, this cleanser also contains salicylic acid, aka the powerhouse acne-fighting ingredient. Dr. Peredo recommends pairing this cleanser with CeraVe Moisturizing Cream for long-lasting hydration. "A silk pillowcase will protect your face from further dehydration while your body takes care of everything else," Dr. Love adds.
4. Promote collagen production.
"With alcohol creating inflammation in the skin, it can cause acne and decrease collagen production," Dr. Peredo explains. "Alastin's Regenerating Skin Nectar contains peptides and antioxidants with healing properties to calm the skin and reduce redness. It also supports and produces healthy elastin and collagen."
So, although drinking alcohol will impact the appearance of your skin immediately and your skin health over time, there are ways to combat the effects. Just remember that everything is better in moderation; cheers.