We love that cocktail when it goes down but what we don’t realize as we’re sipping, is just how much our liquid treat can affect our looks. Sad fact: Alcohol dehydrates your body including the skin, your body’s largest organ. Even worse, this drying out effect happens every time you drink. That means extra cocktails can be adding years to your face in the form of wrinkles, poor texture and lack of radiance, otherwise known as a skin hangover.
Skin experts say that frequent alcohol consumption is also thought to deprive the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients. Over time, drinking heavily can have other, more permanent, detrimental effects on your skin. For instance, rosacea, a skin disorder that starts with a tendency to blush and flush easily is linked to alcohol. Since alcohol increases your blood flow, it can cause blood vessels in your face to dilate and burst, leaving behind broken capillaries and red spots that are difficult to get rid of.
Here’s a look at what alcohol can do to wreak havoc on your appearance.
Does Your Skin Have a Hangover?
You may wonder if alcohol is causing a skin hangover. How would you know?
Excessively Dry skin.
Your skin would feel really dry, so dry that you can’t seem to quench it, even with heavy creams or drinking H2O.
What’s worse, drinking too much doesn’t only affect the appearance of your skin; it will dehydrate your hair, making it more prone to breaking and split ends. Weak, brittle hair in addition to premature wrinkling, can easily add 10 years to someone’s appearance.
Dark circles, bloodshot eyes and even blindness.
In much the same way that alcohol causes broken capillaries on your face, it irritates and enlarges the tiny blood vessels on the surface of your eye (the sclera) causing a “bloodshot” appearance. If vanity doesn’t get your attention, how about blindness? Because excessive drinking robs the body of some nutrients required to maintain eye health, it can lead to a condition called alcoholic optic neuritis, which impairs eyesight.
How to Avoid a Skin Hangover
1. Stay hydrated.
Aside from giving up booze altogether, it is possible to minimize the unwanted effects of alcohol by constantly staying hydrated. That means drinking a full glass of water for every cocktail you have. Drink even more water before you go to bed to flush the alcohol out of your system so you wake up less dehydrated, puffy and flushed.
2. Take care of your skin before bed.
Taking care of your skin before hitting the sack is also crucial. You should fully wash your face and then apply a moisturizer, like a hydrating serum before getting into bed. Sleeping with dirty skin makes it prone to clogged pores and acne.
3. Prop pillows and use tea.
One of the best ways to minimize eye and face puffiness is to sleep on two pillows, slightly propped up. In the morning, rubbing ice cubes all over your face helps, too. One of the best ways to deflate eye puffiness and reduce the redness is to place cold tea bags over the eyes. The tannins in the tea help constrict blood vessels.
4. Cover up what you can’t cure.
To camouflage the redness in the face, use a green-tinted primer before applying makeup, which should help neutralize any redness. If you must use foundation, look for a lightweight, moisturizing formula. Avoid powders, as they are often more drying.
5. Consider lasers.
When home remedies aren’t making much of a difference, consider other options. There are pricier measures you can take to minimize the effects of alcohol. Certain laser treatments can reduce redness and spider veins on the face. It’s important to see someone who is well trained to administer the laser treatment.
6. Choose your booze wisely.
If you are going to consume alcohol, know that different alcohols have different effects on the skin, but as a general rule, the clearer, the better. Vodka, gin, and tequila leave your system quicker. If you’re going to drink anything, drink vodka that doesn’t have a grain in it, like potato vodka. It’s a lot clearer and smoother, so it gets in and out of your body quickly. Most dermatologists agree that although everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, if you can remember to drink in moderation and stay hydrated, you can save your skin.
Dr. Kaleroy Papantoniou is a Cosmetic Dermatologist who specializes in Injectables, Lasers, Body Contouring, Surgical and Medical Dermatology.