ALCOHOL CAN TORCH YOUR SKIN – BUT SOME BOOZES ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS

Many of us like a drink now and again. Some more than others. But if you’re the kinda dude who wants to look their best at all-times, you should probably hold off on that second or third (or fourth) pint. Why? Because according to some studies, alcohol consumption can affect your skin in a negative way.

There are research papers out there dating as far back as 2001 that suggest a link between the two. For this reason, plenty of A-listers and Very Famous People have gone completely teetotal. In the January 2016 issue of US Weekly, for example, Jennifer Lopez said: “I don’t drink or smoke or have caffeine. That really wrecks your skin as you get older.”

But just how much wreckage does it cause? To find out, we sat down with some of London’s leading skincare experts and dieticians.

Does alcohol affect your skin?

“When it comes to alcohol and its effect on our skin, there’s quite a bit to unpack,” says Rachel Clarkson, nutrigenomic dietitian and founder of The DNA Dietician. “It’s a significant dehydrator. It increases urine production, leaving our skin parched and more prone to looking dull and tired. But it’s not just about dryness. Alcohol is also notorious for triggering flare-ups of skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea.” This is partly due to dehydration, but it’s also because alcohol can induce inflammation in the body, which can exacerbate these conditions.

“On top of that, alcohol affects the gut skin axis and the delicate balance of our microbiome,” says Dr Christine Hall, NHS general practitioner and aesthetics doctor. “This can, in turn, weaken our immune system, compromising its ability to manage inflammation and fight off infections.”

But there are some myths, too. “There’s a common misconception that alcohol is a direct cause of acne,” says consultant dermatologist Dr Mia Jing Gao. “While it can aggravate existing acne due to its inflammatory effects, alcohol itself does not cause spots.”

How much can you drink before it affects your skin?

So, how many natty wines can you neck before it shows up on your face? Well, the answer isn’t that simple. “While there’s no one-size-fits-all amount of alcohol that’s guaranteed to affect your skin visibly, it’s generally agreed that moderate drinking – defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men – is less likely to cause significant skin problems,” says Alexandra Mills, skincare expert at AM Aesthetics. “However, even within these limits, some individuals may notice changes in their skin, especially if they consume alcohol frequently.”

In 2019, a scientific study found that people who downed more than 8 drinks a week significantly contributed to facial ageing. This included things like under-eye puffiness, facial lines, and visible blood vessels across the face. So, while moderate consumption may not immediately lead to noticeable effects for some, excessive or chronic intake can have pretty serious effects over time.

What should you do after having a drink?

“Once you’ve had a drink, you need to make sure that you rehydrate both inside and out,” says Hall. “Drink plenty of water, and the application of cold spoons or an eye mask can help with puffiness and swelling.”

“I’d recommend using emollients to restore barrier function and humectants to enhance your skin hydration,” says Gao. “Antioxidant-rich serums can help combat oxidative damage. Anti-inflammatory agents, like products that contain niacinamide or azelaic acid, may help reduce redness and inflammation, too.”

“Finally, you should prioritise restorative sleep to allow your body and skin to recover and regenerate,” says Clarkson. “Quality sleep is essential for overall skin health and can counteract the negative impacts of alcohol, such as dullness and fatigue.”

Do different alcohol types have different effects?

There’s now rock, solid proof that different kinds of alcohol will have different kinds of effects. “As a general rule, the clearer, the better,” says Mills. “Vodka, gin, and tequila will get out of your system a lot quicker. If you’re going to drink anything, in my opinion, drink vodka that doesn’t have a grain in it, like a potato vodka. It’s a lot clearer and smoother, so it gets in and out of your body, no problem.”

But it’s not always about just the alcohol. You should also consider what’s been added to it. “Sugary cocktails and mixed drinks can contribute to skin issues like inflammation and breakouts due to their high sugar content,” says Clarkson. “Additionally, drinks rich in histamine such as red wine and some beers, may trigger allergic reactions or exacerbate existing skin conditions. Furthermore, darker alcoholic beverages like whiskey or rum may contain congeners, which are chemical compounds formed during fermentation and ageing.”

If you’re not entirely sure, it’s always worth checking out the label on the bottle or can before throwing it down the hatch. And, as always, make sure you drink responsibly, lads.