What are the true effects of alcohol on your skin?

Whether it is sipping a good red by the fire, sharing a glass or two of Prosecco or indulging in the latest gin cocktail, we all love a little (big?!) drink now and then. Alcohol can certainly lift our spirits, but it can also play havoc with our skin.

Drinking alcohol has the most detrimental effects on your skin. This is due to the way it is processed by your body, which metabolises it into acetaldehyde compound, making the body’s blood vessels relax as a result. Dullness, discolouration, sagging, enlarged pores, dehydration, blotches, redness, thread veins and puffiness are common side effects of alcohol on skin.

On top of that, alcohol is a diuretic, increasing the production of urine, which dehydrates the body and, sadly, causes the skin not only to become dehydrated, but to look drier, feel less plump, and more easily show fine lines.

So, what exactly are the effects of alcohol on your skin?

1. It leaves you completely dehydrated

Because alcohol is a diuretic, it forces the water out of your body whilst drinking and for several hours after you have stopped, which is why you probably need a few visits to the toilet. When alcohol is being consumed, the body finds it far more difficult to rehydrate, and this not only affects the normal brain functions but also has a huge impact on your skin.

Your skin, being the largest organ of the body, will then start to show when your body is severely dehydrated. Instead of soft and hydrated, it will look cracked and wrinkled. Your complexion will appear dull, lifeless and lacking its youthful healthy glow.

2. It causes inflammation and redness

When we have alcohol, our insides will inflame and this becomes visible in our skin with signs of puffiness, breakouts and redness. This is because alcohol causes small blood vessels in the skin to widen, allowing more blood to flow close to the surface.

Alcohol consumption can lead you to develop some permanent skin woes such as Rosacea, which is an inflammatory skin condition.

3. It can lead to hair loss

Drinking too much alcohol can contribute to deficiencies of key nutrients in your body. In particular, zinc, copper, or protein, which, as a result, may lead to hair shedding.

Besides, in the same way that alcohol desiccates your skin, it dehydrates your hair, and dry hair is weak, brittle and more prone to split ends.

4. It can cause hormonal imbalances

The consumption of alcohol can alter your hormone levels and create an imbalance in oestrogen or testosterone levels. When testosterone levels are increased, the body triggers the production of androgens. These male hormones then pump out an oily substance called sebum through the sebaceous gland. When the pores become clogged with sebum, the oil can mix with debris, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

Hormonal imbalances can make acne condition worse because the sebaceous glands, which produce the oily substance on your skin called ‘sebum,’ are overly stimulated, and therefore there is an overproduction of sebum. Even if you are not normally prove to spots, you may find you have a breakout after a heavy night of drinking.

5. It can trigger acne

Alcoholic beverages are incredibly high in sugar. Consuming sugar in excess can cause inflammation, and this can lead to skin irritation and painful pimples.

When your blood sugar levels spike, your body responds by producing insulin. This hormone transports sugar into the cells and reduces blood sugar levels. The higher your insulin, the more IGF-1 your body produce, which generates an overproduction of oil in your skin, increasing your chance of breakouts and eventually, acne.

So what can you do to protect your skin?

When it comes to skin health and maintaining a radiant complexion, alcohol is bad news. Having a break from alcohol or going completely teetotal can have an extremely positive outcome in your lifestyle. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but it’s the truth! To start with, your liver will be healthier and better at detoxifying your body. The healthier you are, the more beautiful your skin looks, radiating youth and glow.

However, failing giving up booze completely, there are some less drastic measures you can take:

  • Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, both in terms of the frequency that you drink, and the quantity. It is no good stopping drinking during the week only to binge at the weekends, you need to reduce the number of days you drink and quantity you drink on each occasion.
  • When possible, take an extended period of time off from alcohol. Try dry January, detox before a summer holiday, or take November off before the Christmas party season starts.
  • Try lower alcohol content drinks. There are plenty of tasty low or no alcohol cocktails, wine, and beers available so you can still be social, enjoy going out and having a drink, but with fewer side effects on your skin and overall health.
  • Alternate drinking an alcholic drink with water. This will help keep you hydrated, space out your drinking, and reduce the overall amount of alcohol you drink in one sitting.
  • Remember to wash your face and remove all your make up before going to sleep, and apply moisturiser to help replenish your skin overnight. It probably will feel like the last thing you want to do rather than crawl staight under the duvet, but your skin will thank you in the morning!
  • Let the last thing that you do before closing your eyes be drinking a large glass of water and taking another glass to bed so that if you wake up in the night you can have a sip and keep rehydrating.
  • In the following days try to eat healthy, vitamin-rich foods, drink plenty of water, exercise and treat your skin well with optimal skincare – cleanse, tone, exfoliate, moisturise, treat, protect with SPF.

Consider calculating your weekly alcohol intake and reducing your intake so that you do not exceed the recommended allowance. This handy calculator can help you figure how much you drink … and you might be surprised just how much it is!

If you think you have a serious drinking problem that is damaging your physical health and mental well-being, speak to your GP and there is lots of support available to help you reduce or stop drinking alcohol.

If your skin is looking aged, dull and tired and you would like to find out more about how my treatments can help you transform your complexion by restoring its radiance, health and youth, I’d love to hear from you. Your first consultation is always free.