alcohol effects on skin
Skin Care Tips

The lowdown on alcohol and its effects on your skin

December 29, 2020

Find out how alcohol affects your skin and how to minimize the bad effects of alcohol on your skin this New Year’s Eve!

One of the things that you’ll never fail to find in any New Year’s Eve celebration is alcohol—copious amounts of alcohol. And if you’re one of those who love their booze, then you’ve probably noticed before that after a night of binge drinking, your skin looks different in the morning. Whether it’s your skin looking dull and dry, or you suddenly have morning after breakouts, one thing is certain: it happened after a night of drinking. 

We know that alcohol is bad for your skin, but what does it actually do—and is there a way for you to enjoy your drinks on New Year’s Eve without wreaking havoc on your skin? Let’s dive into these topics and find out what skin care tips you can follow to minimize the damage from drinking. 

How does alcohol affect your skin?

First, let’s find out what alcohol actually does to your skin. Once alcohol is metabolized in your body, its byproducts have different effects on your skin: 

  • The metabolism process in the liver produces acetaldehyde, which causes your skin to be dehydrated. 
  • Alcohol also releases a histamine that dilates your blood vessels, which causes inflammation and redness of the skin. 
  • Alcohol causes your pores to dilate, which can lead to blackheads and whiteheads that, left untreated, could turn into papules and cystic acne. 
  • Alcohol disrupts your sleeping schedule, making it easy to fall asleep but difficult to stay asleep—and the lack of sleep can make your skin look tired, dull and dehydrated. 
  • Alcohol has effects on your hormones—it can increase estrogen and testosterone levels, which can affect your oil production… and possibly lead to acne breakouts. 

How to reduce the damage of alcohol on your skin

Here’s the good news: If you’re someone who loves to knock back a few drinks, and you’re looking to celebrate the new year with alcohol, there are ways to minimize the damage that alcohol wreaks on your skin: 

  • Moderation is key! It doesn’t sound like the fun New Year’s Eve you’re planning, but if you’re serious about your skin health, you don’t have to give up alcohol entirely—but you can’t binge drink either. The recommended consumption is up to one glass a day for women, two glasses for men under 65, and one glass for men over 65. Think of it this way: the farther you go from your recommended intake, the more alcohol will start to affect your skin. So start counting those glasses. 
  • Alternate alcohol with water. Because alcohol dehydrates your skin, you need to work harder to keep it hydrated—and the easiest way to do it is with water. To minimize the effects of alcohol, use water to chase after your alcohol. This will rehydrate your skin, make alcohol easier to break down, and save you from a hangover the morning after. 
  • Eat food with your alcohol. Metabolizing alcohol on its own can be difficult for your body—and the effects can be seen on your skin. By eating snacks with your alcohol, you give your body the chance to metabolize the alcohol together with the food, which is less tough on your skin because you’re letting the alcohol pass mainly through your gastrointestinal system with the food instead of through your skin and your bloodstream. 
  • Choose alcohol with less congeners. Congeners are the chemicals added to alcohol that help them ferment. The more congeners an alcoholic beverage has, the worse it is for your skin. A good rule of thumb is to go with lighter, clearer liquids—the darker alcohol is, the more congeners it has. 
  • Don’t skip your skin care routine! After a night of enjoying a few drinks, chances are you’re either sleeping with your makeup on or you only have enough time to remove the makeup—but then ignore the rest of your skin care routine. Don’t skip your skin care because this will help revitalize your skin, especially after a long night of celebrating! At the very least, do the most basic steps of any skin care routine: cleanse, tone and moisturize. 

What alcohol is least damaging for your skin?

Now that we’ve discussed how alcohol affects your skin and what you can do to reduce the damage it wreaks on your skin, it’s time to shop for alcohol! What drinks are more forgiving for your skin? Let’s go through some of the most popular options. 

  • Tequila. Sure, tequila isn’t as clear a liquor as gin or vodka, but here’s what makes tequila the least damaging to your skin out of all the types of alcohol: it has less sugar than everything else! As long as you only take tequila shots, don’t add any mixers and skip the salt, tequila won’t wreak as much havoc on your skin. But don’t have too much of it either if you want to avoid the hangover, and remember to chase it with water! 
  • Beer. While it’s true that beer’s fermentation makes it one of the more damaging alcoholic beverages, it does have a redeeming quality: it has antioxidants that, if you drink moderately, will help with anti-aging. Beer also has less alcohol content than other liquor, which means it’s less dehydrating for your skin. 
  • Vodka and gin. Like tequila, vodka and gin are good as shots—and in smaller quantities. This is because what you mix in these drinks is what makes clear liquids more damaging to your skin. Just remember that it’s harder to track how much alcohol you’ve actually had if you’ve had one too many shots—so drink moderately. 
  • Mixed drinks. Drinks with mixes in them are rich in sugar, which makes it a double whammy: the alcohol content dehydrates your skin and opens your pores, while the sugar content makes you prone to acne. So while these taste good—and they’re easier to consume in large amounts because they do taste good!—they’re damaging for your skin. 
  • Wine.  Wine is rich in sugar and, especially in the case of red wine, tannins—this is the substance in red wine that gives it its color. Because of the sugar content in wine, it causes inflammation and triggers acne breakouts, while the tannins are congeners that dehydrate your skin. Red wine also releases histamine, which dilates your blood vessels and gives you that redness that you can’t seem to get rid of the morning after a night of drinking. 

Preparing for the New Year festivities

All the food and drink bingeing will be easier on your skin if you already have a good routine in place, from your skin care to exercise to your daily diet. There’s no harm in celebrating every now and then—just make sure to keep your healthier habits regular to minimize the effects of your cheat days on your skin. 

And while you’re at it, give yourself the gift of clear skin this coming year. Get your free SMACNE trial kit now and start a new routine for the New Year. Cheers and have a rockin’ new year ahead!

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