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Over indulging in alcohol can not only leave you with a sickly hangover in the morning, but it can also play havoc on your skin.
Dullness, discolouration and sagging to enlarged pores, dehydration, blotches, redness and puffiness are common side effects of alcohol on skin.
If you notice your skin looking redder after drinking too, there’s a very simple scientific explanation. Alcohol inflames the tissue of the skin and increases the blood flow to your skin cells, which can leave your appearance looking inflamed and unhealthy for days.
This is because alcohol causes blood vessels under the surface of your skin to widen, which allows more blood to flow, producing that tell-tale flushed colour or redness in the skin.
If you’re consuming alcohol frequently, your skin will become more damaged, meaning these symptoms will stick around for longer, leaving your skin open to free radical damage that leads to premature ageing.
Luckily, there are some alcoholic drinks that are slightly kinder to your skin, although it is still very important to monitor your alcohol consumption if you feel you may be drinking too much.
Worst alcohol for your skin
If you’re partial to a few JD and cokes on a night out, then you may find yourself waking up with awful hangovers. Dark spirits, such as whiskey, bourbon and rum, contain congeners – chemicals such as tannings and methanol – which make hangovers worse.
In fact, a study by the British Medical Association found bourbon is twice as likely to cause a hangover as the same amount of vodka.
Lighter coloured drinks such as vodka, gin and tequila contain the least amount of additives and are processed by the body quickest. This means that they should have the least impact on your skin, therefore minimising potential damage.
And although you may still suffer a hangover the next day, drinking lighter drinks may minimise your suffering slightly (and the amount of bacon sandwiches you have to consume!) because they don’t contain congeners.
Despite red wine being hailed as the ‘healthiest’ choice of alcohol because it contains antioxidants, it is actually the most damaging for your skin.
Because red vino is unfiltered, the liver and kidneys have to work harder to process it, and it’s the most likely booze to cause flushing, redness, and blotchy skin – which is bad news if you already suffer from a skin condition that causes redness, such as rosacea.
Unfortunately white wine tends to be high in sugar too, which can lead to swollen skin and bloating, which is the last thing you want for your face.
Everyone loves holding a fancy cocktail glass in their hand, but your faves like Pornstar Martinis and Cosmopolitans are also bad news if you want to keep a clear complexion as the high sugar content in most cocktails can lead to inflammation, which increases cell damage and is a cause of acne.
The high sugar levels can also leave skin looking dull and sallow. So next time you’re perusing the cocktail list on a night out, bear in mind that a Margarita is the worst offender as it contains both sugar and salt, both of which can leave skin puffy.
How to reduce the effects of alcohol on your skin
1. Keep hydrated
It may sound like an obvious one, but one of the most important things you can do to help your skin is to drink water.
Drinking alcohol dehydrates your skin as your kidneys go into overdrive trying to flush out the excess liquids. This means the rest of your organs aren’t getting enough hydration, which will eventually lead to the loosening, sagging and untimely ageing of the skin.
Refuel your skin with plenty of water to build your hydration levels back up. Experts recommend drinking a full glass of water for every cocktail you have.
2. Exercise regularly
As well as keeping your body in shape and taking care of your inner health, exercise improves the blood flow throughout the skin, helping to keep it looking healthy.
3. Include supplements into your diet
Alcohol can drain the body of vitamin A, which is the vitamin responsible for cell turnover, so by taking a daily supplement you can help to encourage the cell regeneration process which you’ve inhibited by drinking alcohol. You can also take a supplement dedicated to keeping your skin, hair and nails healthy which can help repair your skin damages in an efficient manner.
Other supplements that can help restore the balance to your skin include vitamins C, E, B1, B6, B2, B3 and Omega 3.
4. Drink non-alcoholic alternatives
Just because you’re not drinking booze, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a fancy cocktail. Known as a ‘mocktail‘, most bars and restaurants will offer non-alcoholic alternatives to the cocktails on their menu. And they’re usually very yummy.
There’s also plenty of non-alcoholic beers and wines on the market, so if you’re serious about cutting down your alcohol intake but still want something a bit more exciting than H20, there’s lots to choose from.
5. Take your make-up off before bed
This applies to all women, whether you’re drunk or sober. We’ve all been there, when we’ve felt too tiddly to take our make-up off before getting into bed – but this really is important when it comes to looking after your skin.
It’s also good to have a proper skincare regime which includes cleansing, toning and moisturising daily. Try to pick products that contain added moisture to help combat the signs of dehydration brought on by alcohol. A product containing hyaluronic acid is a good option to help keep skin looking plump and hydrated.
6. Sleep with an extra pillow
Believe it or not, sleeping with two pillows in bed slightly propped up is one of the best ways to minimise eye and face puffiness. This is because dark circles can be caused by fluids that tend to pool in the under eye area if your head is lying flat.
It also helps to sleep in a cool, dark room. Studies have shown a direct link between core body temperature and sleep quality, concluding that cooler temperatures do not interfere with the body’s natural REM cycle.
When you’re able to get a good night’s sleep, your skin and body can much more effectively recharge, allowing you to wake up looking and feeling refreshed.
7. Choose your cover-up carefully
If you’re adamant that you’re not leaving the house without make-up on, then always use a lightweight and moisturising foundation. To camouflage any redness in your face, try using a green-tinted primer before applying any make-up, which should help neutralise any redness.
It’s best to avoid using powders if you’re trying to improve your skin as are often more drying.