A night on the sauce can leave you with more than just a hangover.
Most of us enjoy a drink, whether it’s celebrating with friends or unwinding after a long day at work. For many, a bottle of bubbly or a few drinks with friends is as much about symbolism and the ritual as it is about enjoying a tipple, which is why giving up the booze can be a challenge – even for those of us with impressive willpower. But as much as we may like a wine or two (or three…) on a Friday night, there are significant beauty reasons to lay off the booze on a more regular basis.
So what is alcohol actually doing to your skin? The bad news is, it’s doing a lot of bad things. From permanent redness to premature wrinkles, the sobering fact is that alcohol and your skin are not friends, and they never will be.
The more you drink, the less hydrated you are – and that goes for your skin, too. As a diuretic, alcohol forces water out of your body. That makes your skin look less plump and fresh the ‘morning after’ and, over time, it means wrinkles.
Overdoing it on the booze also makes it more difficult for your body to rehydrate afterwards, and you may experience dry skin the day after a big night. Immediately, the lack of water in your skin makes the lines you already have more visible, and eventually your skin won’t bounce back to its pre-drinking firmness the way it used to.
Puffiness & Redness
On the flip side, too much alcohol can make your face puffy – usually after a night of sugary drinks. This is due to the inflammatory effect that alcohol (and sugar) has on our bodies. When we drink, it causes our insides to become inflamed and this presents in your skin as redness, breakouts and puffiness.
The histamine released by alcohol also dilates the blood’s capillaries, and the result of that is redness of the skin. While you may not be concerned at the time, if you consistently get flushed from drinking – and that’s sustained over time – the redness can become prominent and permanent.
Collagen Loss & Breakouts
There are two things no person wants to hear, but drinking can cause both. Alcohol depletes vitamin A, which is crucial in the formation of new cells and collagen, which means too much alcohol can speed up the ageing process. Collagen loss is accelerated, making your skin look more weathered.
To add insult to injury, a night on the sauce can also create or worsen breakouts. Again, sugar is partially the culprit here. Alcoholic drinks are often high in sugar, and cocktails and wine are among the worst. If you’re over-indulging too often, this sugar spike will show up as a breakout.
Finally, and we know this isn’t about your face, but the average wine drinker adds an extra 2,000 calories to their overall intake every month, which over an annual basis is the equivalent of eating 221 doughnuts!
The main culprits
So which drinks are your skin’s worst enemy? We’re not suggesting that we all have to become teetotallers if we want good skin. We’re firm believers in having a good time and many of us can enjoy a drink without going overboard. But if you are worried about the effect alcohol is having on your skin, these are the top three drinks to avoid:
Sadly, the combination of sugar and alcohol found in most mojitos means they’re particularly bad for drinkers concerned about wrinkles. The disruptive duo leads to: systemic inflammation, which can lead to premature ageing; and also creates a spike in insulin levels, which can create that ‘morning after’ acne.
Red wine is one of the worst drinks for your skin and your face. Alcohol generally promotes the opening of blood vessels in the skin, which leads to increased redness – and red wine is one of the worst offenders because it’s also a histamine, which further adds to redness and flushing. If you’re prone to redness in your skin or you suffer from rosacea, red wine may quickly become your worst enemy.
It’s not just the combination of sugar and alcohol that you need to worry about; the elements that make a margarita so delicious are also what make it so bad for your skin. Sugar plus salt plus booze means you get all the negatives of the aforementioned drinks, plus a puffy face.
How to take care of your skin and still have a good time
The good news? Your skin has the ability to regenerate itself and your body has an amazing rate of rehydration. But that regeneration depends on how much damage has been done. If you’ve been drinking for 15 years and decide to stop, it will defifinitely help your body going forwards, but your skin is not going to regenerate back to that of a non- drinker 15 years younger. The truth is that once you destroy collagen, it’s diffificult to get back, but there are ways to minimise the damage.
Know Your Limits
How your body handles and processes alcohol changes as you age. An alcoholic drink leaves your body in about three hours when you’re 20; but by the time you hit 40 it takes 33 hours – which explains why your recovery time is so much longer and your hangovers seem to get worse as you age! So basically if you’re drinking in your 40s and you’re worried about your skin, you should probably be waiting a day in between drinks – or keep it to once or twice a week.
We all know this one – alternate between water and alcohol if you’re going to drink. Alcohol is a toxin with little nutrient value and can contribute to poorer liver function, reduced immunity, hormone disruption, cell damage and insulin issues – all impacting on the quality, appearance and rate of ageing of your skin.
Alcohol is also a diuretic, so you can lose plenty of skin cell-loving water from the body quite rapidly, leaving your skin dehydrated and dull. Drinking plenty of water while you drink – and of course every day – is a good way to maintain some of the hydration that alcohol is depleting.
Choose Low-Or No-Alcohol Options
As society becomes increasingly health conscious, the options for those who want to minimise their alcohol intake are increasing. And the good news is you can still actually have a wine without having a drink. Clever winemakers are creating alcohol-free versions of your favourite wines, many of which have far fewer calories than standard wine. So instead of bemoaning never drinking again to save your skin, you can continue to drink wine and keep your collagen! CBM