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Ask A Dermatologist: Is Alcohol Bad For My Skin?

Many of us enjoy a glass of wine, or a cheeky cocktail at the end of a long day. Sometimes we overindulge and while we all know it’s not great for our health, how much does it affect our skin? 

Today, we’re diving into the relationship between skin and alcohol, and get our expert Dermatology Team to weigh in on the facts.

Is alcohol bad for my skin?

Alcohol has a huge effect on the skin, whether it’s slowing down cell repair or causing dehydration, heavy drinking can also be behind puffy eyes and dull skin.  

Suffer from headaches after drinking? Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it depletes your body of water and salt leading to dehydration. That’s why it’s recommended you have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink. 

However, should you neglect to drink water alongside alcohol, you’ll not only feel the effects of dehydration but also see them on your skin. After a night out, your skin may be prone to irritation and sensitivity. Focus on calming any inflammation, and rehydrate your skin. Go back to basics with a simple skincare routine, skip heavy-duty actives and focus on hydrating serums (hyaluronic acid) and ultra soothing moisturisers instead. Eye cream containing caffeine can help with puffy eyes and of course, but make sure you replenish your body from within.

Does alcohol cause inflammation?

Puffy eyes the morning after drinking? You’re not alone, and it’s not just because you didn’t sleep well. Alcohol triggers inflammation, which leads to puffiness and bloating (in the face and body). It’s true that spirits are less inflammatory, however, be warned that sugary mixers can also lead to inflammation. 

Sugar is linked with inflammation of the skin, as it causes glycation, where sugar molecules stick to collagen and elastin, gradually breaking them down. We recommend you go for the sugar-free or low-sugar versions of your favourite mixer where possible. 

How can I look after my skin after drinking?

Everyone is guilty of overindulging now and then, but it doesn’t have to mean your skin needs to look dull and dry for days. Try and remember to cleanse and stick to your usual evening skincare routine after a night of drinking, adding in a hydrating serum if you can.

A facial massage the morning after the night before, can also be extremely beneficial, either with your hands or a tool such as a gua sha. This will help with lymphatic drainage and reduce puffiness. Also, it’s best to avoid any facial treatments such as threading or waxing after a night of drinking, due to an increased risk of bruising as our skin recovers from dehydration. 

Less drinking is always better for your skin, however, that’s not always practical. To take care of your skin after drinking, avoid new active ingredients while it’s potentially a little more sensitive than usual. Instead, rehydrate and recuperate with plenty of water and lots of sleep! 


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