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Article: How to Stop Alcohol From Wrecking Your Skin

How to Stop Alcohol From Wrecking Your Skin

How to Stop Alcohol From Wrecking Your Skin


Whether you're hitting up every festive party you can, or snuggling up at home with a fancy bottle of red (no mulled wine welcome) chances are your alcohol consumption spikes up in December. 'Tis the season, after all.

If you are drinking more than you usually might, there’s no denying that it will have repercussions for your skin as well as your head. Luckily there are steps you can take to take the edge off of grey booze face and prevent long-term skin-jury. Captain hydration at your service.


Serving size aside (we’ll come to that), the booze you choose can make a difference to the appearance of your skin. Dermatologist Dr Doris Day breaks down the bar menu:

“The effects of different drinks on your health, skin and hangover comes down to the type of alcohol and additional ingredients within it. Drinks containing lots of sugar, for example alcopops and sweet cocktails, give you a ‘sugar hangover’, in addition to any negative effects associated with alcohol intake. Drinks made with salt, on the other hand, contribute to bloating, puffiness and dehydration, while dark spirits such as whisky include by-products of the distillation process, called congeners, which are thought worsen your hangover.”

A filthy hangover tends to go hand in hand with lacklustre skin, and the more additives that your drinks contain, in general the more effort involved for your liver to metabolise your liquor, and the more pronounced after-effects such as dehydration, fine lines and breakouts. DELIGHTFUL. You can lessen your chances of blah skin by opting for certain tipples over others. Expert facialist Abigail James clears things up:

“Clear spirits are the safest bet for skin. My personal drink of choice would be a vodka cranberry, or better still a long cocktail that isn’t laden with sugar. Try a vodka soda water blend with refreshing rose, lavender or rosemary. It’s (almost) hydrating and means that you don’t have to compromise on any fun, but you shouldn’t wake up with any unpleasant surprises skin-wise.”

If you're a Rioja or merlot fan, you’ll be pleased to know that quaffing a glass of red comes with the dermatologist seal of approval, at least from author of Future Proof Your Skin and Eudelo clinic founder Dr Stefanie Williams:

“In my opinion it is best not to have alcohol too regularly, and to always avoid overindulging. However, if you do have it, I recommend a dry red wine. It contains the anti-ageing “miracle” compound resveratrol and a number of polyphenic constituents, plus its carbohydrate content is low. I have to admit that I’m partial to the occasional glass of red myself.”

Emphasis on the singular glass and ‘occasional’ of course. As you already know, quantity matters as much as quality when it comes to the skin and wellbeing alcohol aftermath…


At least according to dermatologist Dr Harold Lancer MD:

“Alcoholic drinks dehydrate your skin and deplete it of vital nutrients, giving skin a dulled appearance. Repeated overindulgence can create permanently red, spidery veins, so to avoid this try to drink moderately- ideally no more than two drinks a day.”

Sometimes we'll have a few more top-ups to our 'two glasses', and there’s nothing wrong with the odd night of debauchery, but those binge drinking warnings ring true for skin as well as our health on the whole, as Dr Stefanie affirms:

“Alcohol consumption has been shown to increase oxidative stress and the highly reactive metabolite acetaldehyde within it is the key driver for damage. Chronic alcohol consumption also leads to mitochondrial dysfunction (mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells). Excess alcohol intake has also been shown to shorten telomeres (protective structures at the end of our chromosomes), accelerating ageing. Binge drinking seems to be particularly harmful- these episodes can age you unbelievably.”

The good news is that a more measured approach to alcohol isn’t anything to panic over, as Dr Doris Day assures:

“Moderation is key. Those who binge drink on the weekends are actually doing more harm than those who enjoy the odd glass of wine in the week during dinner. It’s also advisable to have at least two or three days without any alcohol at all and never to exceed more than the UK Medical Officer guidance of 14 units per week.”


In addition to not going too gung-ho on the gin (while clear spirits are superior to sugary concoctions skin-wise, Dr Day warns that tequila et al can be dangerous in terms of inadvertently drinking too much), that old chestnut of alternating alcoholic drinks with straight-up H2O is still a good skin-surance policy. Dr Day lays down the law:

“Too much alcohol in your system can quickly dehydrate the skin, leading to issues such a sagging, discolouration and enlarged pores. To lessen your chances of dehydration, try to drink one glass of water for every unit of alcohol you consume. Also ensure that you drink plenty of water following a night out.”

If you want to switch it up and give plain old water a bit of a kick, Abigail advocates waking up with a zingy hot toddy of the non-alcoholic variety:

“Whether I’ve been out the night before or not, I love to begin each day with a cup of hot water with lemon, turmeric and cayenne pepper or fresh ginger.”

Whatever floats your boat. To up the hydration ante, aesthetic doctor Dr David Jack suggests mixing up a turbo-powered skin elixir for extra recovery benefits:

“Rehydration after alcohol is one of the major ways to combat the negative effects that booze can have on skin. Although drinking plenty of water is important, it is often a good idea to add supplementary electrolytes and vitamins to help boost your skin’s hydration and nutrient uptake even further, particularly considering that skin is at its most vulnerable in terms of moisture loss, plus inflammation is high directly after drinking. Supplements such as my own SkInfusion, £65, (which can be taken during exercise too if you feel like it) are perfect for this, as they contain a high concentration of antioxidants and micronutrients. If you want something simple, even a couple of Berocca can help the morning after.”


If all else fails, your choice of makeup could help you out if nightcaps get the better of you according to Dr Jack:

“A common issue with drinking is that often people forget to cleanse and remove makeup before sleeping - it’s an important step not to forget. If you know that you are likely to skip cleansing and all of the other good stuff, using non-comedogenic, oxygenating makeup can minimise overnight damage. I like Oxygenetix makeup- the formula is preferable to allow the skin to “breathe” and it reduces bacteria levels on the skin. Basically, if you’re going to sleep in your makeup, this is the only stuff I’d do it in.”


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