How Drinking Alcohol Is Really Affecting Your Skin


In the pursuit of a complexion that ages slowly and gracefully, it should be encouraging to hear that you really can significantly influence this process. While genetics do play a part (about 25% of aging), the lifestyle choices that you make play a much greater role. One such choice is how much alcohol you consume on a daily or weekly basis. It’s important to know exactly how it’s affecting your skin so that you can make informed decisions.

Here is what alcohol is doing to your skin and body:

It can cause blemishes. Alcohol can have a depressive effect on the nervous system. This negatively impacts the adrenal glands. A condition called ‘adrenal fatigue’ is thought to be a possible contributor to adult hormone-related breakouts. In addition, as I mention below, alcohol can create puffiness in the skin. When this occurs, it puts pressure on the pores and creates a narrower pore lining. This can then lead to dead cells and oil getting trapped in the pores, potentially triggering the start of the blemish cycle. Rapid Response Detox Masque is my go-to treatment to minimize bacteria within the pores, preventing new blemishes from appearing.

It creates redness in the skin and can cause capillary fragility and damage. Drinking inflames tissues and sets off a histamine response. As a result, the skin reddens and gets warm to the touch. In the process, blood vessels that deliver blood to the face dilate (widen). While vessels can later constrict once the skin cools down internally, this eventually causes vessels to lose their elasticity. This, then, leaves them permanently widened, resulting in the appearance of broken capillaries under the skin. These are usually most visible around the nose and cheeks. Especially in fair skin tones, this can look like a moderate sunburn. For those with rosacea, this process only exacerbates the condition. Read this post for helpful tips to prevent capillary damage.

It can make your skin age faster. Overconsumption of alcohol causes chronic inflammation and harmful free radical activity. This gradually wears on connective tissues, resulting in flaccid, loose, sagging skin.

Alcohol depletes essential vitamins in both the skin and body. This prevents oxygen and healthy nutrients from properly getting delivered to cells. Finally, it greatly reduces vitamin A, an important antioxidant that’s also responsible for the regeneration of new cells.

As for alcohol as a skincare ingredient? Read this post.

It causes severe dehydration (water loss) in the skin. The skin is made up of water; water is what keeps the skin looking plump and wrinkles to a minimum. When the skin lacks water, lines and wrinkles become more prominent. (Watch this video to see what dehydrated skin looks like.) The good news is that facial dehydration is a very temporary condition. It’s easy to restore your skin’s proper water levels by using a serum with hyaluronic acid like Skin Drink Concentrate. (Learn how dry skin is different than dehydrated skin.)

It can cause the skin to look puffy. Alcohol has a diuretic effect that leads to dehydration. This tells your body to hold on to more water weight, causing the face to look puffy and your clothes to fit tighter.

As you can see, it’s not doing the skin and body many favors. However, it’s the amount and frequency of your drinking that really matters. There is some research that shows that alcohol in moderation has some health benefits. In fact, my grandmother lived to age 102 (see her 100th birthday party) and was quite the drinker throughout her adult life. From a longevity standpoint, it seemed to work in her favor or she simply had a liver of steel. You may have also heard that red wine contains reservatrol, an antioxidant that helps increase good HDL cholesterol. So that’s a plus!

The lifetime journey to maintain healthy and youthful-looking skin is all about the good choices you make. Smart habits include wearing a generous layer of sunscreen daily, limiting your time outdoors, wearing UV protective clothing, getting adequate sleep, eating a diet rich in nutrients, and maintaining a healthy balance in the amount of alcohol you consume. These will have an impact above and beyond your genetic predisposition. As for me, I never formed the habit of having a drink every night, though many of my friends have. I personally reserve drinking to special occasions. However, since my grandmother lived to 102 and drank daily into her 80s, sometimes I feel like I need to up my game!

Knowledge is power so I hope this is insightful and help you make the right decisions for yourself. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about skin so here’s 35 common myths that you might be falling for.

Oops. Overindulged and paying the price the next morning? Here are five hangover relief tips that can quickly reset your skin and body.

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

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