How Does Alcohol Affect Your Skin?
With the holiday season comes lots of sweet treats and festive cocktails. However, indulging in more drinks than you normally would at other times of year can quickly show up on your skin. Learn more about how your skin is affected by alcohol, and which drinks are the worst and least harmful to your skin’s health.
Have you ever woken up the morning after having a few too many drinks to a dull, flaky complexion? This is because alcohol dehydrates your entire body, including your skin. Some of the most common signs of dehydrated skin are dullness, flaking, itching, dark under-eye circles, and increased appearance of lines and wrinkles.
Frequent alcohol consumption can exacerbate these concerns and make it difficult to get the smooth, radiant complexion you’re looking for.
If you are going to treat yourself to a glass of spiked eggnog or two over the holidays, a good tip is to drink a glass of water after each alcoholic drink you have. This can help your body to stay hydrated and avoid these unwanted side effects to your skin the next day.
The link between alcohol and inflammation is interesting. Studies have found that light alcohol consumption – especially red wine – may actually reduce inflammation. However, drinking more than one or two drinks regularly can have the opposite effect and increase inflammation throughout the body.
However, when we are discussing the effects on the skin specifically, alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, which leads to redness and flushing. Therefore, any amount of alcohol consumption can be problematic for those with inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea and acne. In fact, a study from the UK found that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of rosacea by 51%.
If aging skin is a concern for you, limit your alcohol consumption. Dehydration caused by alcohol makes wrinkles more noticeable, and routinely dilated blood vessels can eventually burst, causing unsightly veins and uneven skin tone. Regular alcohol consumption also causes oxidative stress, which causes your cells to age faster. Counteract oxidative stress by eating plenty of antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals and stop a chain reaction of oxidation.
Indirectly, drinking alcohol can accelerate signs of skin aging by causing you to get less sleep and make poor diet decisions.
What Are the Worst Types of Alcohol for Your Skin?
Combining excess sugar with your alcoholic drinks heightens the negative effects on your skin and body. So some of the worst drinks are things like margaritas, sweet wines, and cocktails with sugary mixers like sodas and syrups.
One study found that white wine and liquor cause the highest incidence of rosacea flare-ups in women. This may be due to the fact that these are the only two types of alcohol that do not contain anti-inflammatory flavonoids, which are found in abundance in red wine.
What Are Better Choices?
Because of the high amount of resveratrol – a powerful antioxidant – found in red wine, this is one of the best drink choices. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and has been shown to protect against oxidative stress and potentially also help to protect against skin damage caused by a range of problems from aging to skin cancer.
That said, it is still important to drink red wine in moderation, as it can still cause dilated blood vessels, dehydration, and other problems associated with alcohol consumption.
Something else to consider is whether or not the red wine you are drinking is dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. To maximize the benefits to your skin and reduce unwanted side effects, choose dry red wines. Semi-sweet and sweet wines have a much higher sugar content and can therefore contribute to skin problems like other sugary drinks.
It is best to limit alcohol intake or cut it out entirely — not just for your skin but for your overall health, too. If you are going to indulge over the holidays or have the occasional drink other times of year, try to pick red wine to get the antioxidant and skin-protective benefits of resveratrol. If you have rosacea and struggle with flare-ups, alcohol can be a big culprit, even in moderation.
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