EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON SKIN AND HOW TO REPAIR THE DAMAGE
DRINKING CAN TAKE A SERIOUS TOLL ON YOUR SKIN. HOPEFULLY POINTING THIS DOESN’T MAKE US A BUZZKILL, BECAUSE WE ASSUME MOST ADULTS KNOW FIRSTHAND HOW ALCOHOL IMPACTS THEM. THERE’S THE OBVIOUS CORRELATION BETWEEN A BIG NIGHT OUT AND THE NEXT-MORNING RACCOON EYES. BUT WHAT DOES THAT DO IN THE BIG PICTURE? IN PURSUIT OF GLOWING SKIN, WE TRY COUNTLESS SERUMS AND CREAMS, BOOK ELABORATE FACIALS, AND CHUG WATER RELIGIOUSLY, YET THERE’S A BEYOND SIMPLE FIX THAT HAS BEEN STARING US IN THE FACE ALL TIME: GIVING UP (OR SIGNIFICANTLY CUTTING BACK ON) ALCOHOL — WHICH WE’VE LONG KNOWN IS NO HEALTH ELIXIR, BUT HAS A PERHAPS UNEXPECTED IMPART ON OUR COMPLEXIONS IN PARTICULAR. SO, WHAT EXACTLY ARE THE EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON SKIN?
It might seem illogical that some liquids actually dehydrate the body, but that’s what alcohol does. In alcohol’s instance, as the body metabolizes it, it releases a byproduct called acetaldehyde, which Spizuoco says is toxic to body tissues and skin (causing both to lose moisture). This is why your skin can feel rough and desert-dry the morning after a binge. Then, if you magnify that fact times all of the instances you have a bender, imagine the influence it has on premature aging. Dehydrated skin easily wrinkles, and routinely dehydrated skin is sparse on resilience, firmness, and elasticity. On top of that, having dry skin is a prime condition for acne. Which leads us to….
INFLAMMATION AND ACNE
Some people get blushy after one drink, while others take a whole 12-pack to turn rosy in the cheeks. Alcohol releases a histamine that dilates the blood’s capillaries. And the net effect of that is redness of the skin. However, when compounded over several years, this inflammation and redness can be permanent. A constant barrage results in a constant swell. (And as a side note, think of the inflammation it causes other parts of your body, like your liver, and the trickle-down effects…) Another kind of inflammation caused by alcohol is more localized, and familiar to us all: Acne. Alcohol dilates the pores of the skin, leading to blackheads and whiteheads. And if it is not properly treated, it can go on to cause inflamed skin papules [lesion-like bumps] and cystic acne. In the long term, this can cause permanent scarring or result in hyperpigmentation, which itself can be permanent or take months or even a year to disappear.
HINDERED CELLULAR TURNOVER
Of the many bodily processes impacted by alcohol, sleep ranks among the most vulnerable. And by interfering with your sleep cycle, alcohol effectively and significantly compromises your body’s cellular rejuvenation cycle. (Not to mention, your key cognitive functions.) This is when your body best heals itself from all ailments, and when it rapidly regenerates cells in order to keep you in tip-top shape. As that pertains to superficial cells, it means that your skin looks more dull, and its texture is rougher.
SULLEN, PUFFY EYESY
Your eyes are often what gives away your hangover to the public. They are byproduct of dehydration, inflammation, and poor rest. The dehydration and lost firmness causes the fat deposits under your eyes to sink downward, and gives the thin area of skin a level of translucence that showcases the blood vessels just yonder—hence the dark raccoon circles. (The exhaustion only exacerbates it all.)
HOW TO MINIMIZE ALCOHOL'S EFFECT ON SKIN (AS YOU DRINK)
So, aside from drinking in moderation, alternating between a serving of alcohol and a glass of water. Chase one with the other. This can minimize harmful effects of alcohol on the skin by hydrating the tissues and skin. Eating full meals prior or while drinking will deter the side effects, since some of the alcohol will pass instead through the gastrointestinal system along with the food, so that the two are metabolized in tandem (and thus, side effects aren’t as potent).
YOU CAN BOUNCE BACK - WITHIN REASON
If you do give it up, the good thing is that your skin, like any other organ, has the ability to regenerate. The body has a fabulous rate of rehydration. But that regeneration depends on how much damage has been done. Once you destroy the collagen, it is hard to get back.
CHOOSE YOUR LIQUOR WISELY
If you do drink, what’s the best alcohol to choose? Different alcohols have different effects on the skin, but as a general rule, the clearer, the better: vodka, gin, and tequila get out of your system quicker. 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. If you’re going to drink anything, 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.
DRINK EVERY OTHER DAY - OR LESS
When you’re 20 years old and drink, that drink leaves your body in about three hours. When you’re 40 years old, it takes an average of 33 hours. If your transit time is three hours, that means you can drink on Monday and by Tuesday, it’s out of your body. If you’re 40 and you drink on Monday, don’t drink until Wednesday. Minimize to once or twice a week—the lower the intake, the lower the damage to your skin.
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Taking care of your skin is so much more than just a face cream you put on your face. We love to share our knowledge with you. The Read is our way of showing you we care about your skin, body and mind.