This Is What Happens to Your Skin When You Drink Alcohol

Kelsey Clark
Who What Wear

From nausea and headaches to anxiety and dehydration, we all know what can happen when you consume too much alcohol. But how does over-imbibing affect your skin? Considering alcohol's profound mental and physical effects, we seriously doubt that your skin—your body's largest organ—can escape a night of partying unscathed. 

To answer this question, we tapped Morgan Rabach, a board-certified dermatologist and the co-founder of LM Medical. Below, read up on the effects of alcohol on skin, the best and worst drinks for skincare, and how to help your skin recover from a night out. 

How Alcohol Affects Your Skin

"Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes water to leave your body, thus dehydrating your skin," Rabach says. "When your skin is dehydrated, it loses plumpness, and fine lines and wrinkles become more apparent." Alcohol also reduces antioxidants in the skin, particularly vitamin A, which helps with cell renewal and turnover. A lack of this essential compound inhibits your body's natural ability to ward off free-radical damage and protect your skin from environmental stressors. 

What's more, "alcohol is pro-inflammatory, meaning it can cause flares in certain inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and psoriasis," she adds. This is partly due to the fact that alcohol causes vasodilation, which is the widening of blood vessels. This increases redness and flushing and can even give rise to facial spider veins and a puffy complexion. 

The Best & Worst Alcoholic Beverages for Your Skin

It goes without saying that the more you drink, the worse your skincare hangover symptoms will be. But as Nancy Samolitis, MD, points out, not all alcohols are created equal.

Generally speaking, she suggests avoiding any sugar-heavy wines, cocktails, or mixers, as they can increase inflammation, spike your blood sugar, and lead to acne breakouts. Stick to pure additives like club soda and lemon or lime juice to add flavor without excess sugar. 

When it comes to selecting your drink of choice, antioxidant-rich red wine is first on her list. The polyphenols and resveratrol can actually benefit your body and your skin. As far as liquor goes, clear spirits like tequila and vodka contain minimal sugars and few added ingredients. 

How to Revive Your Skin After a Night Out

There are plenty of steps you can take before and after drinking to help your skin recover. "Drinking one glass of water per drink helps prevent dehydration, and drinking water overnight also helps," explains Rabach. "Remember to wash your face when you get home, and always remove makeup! This also prevents pores from getting clogged." 

As far as skincare products go, Rabach swears by antioxidant-rich serums and lush hydrators like hyaluronic acid after a long night out. These healing ingredients will replenish your skin and draw much-needed moisture and hydration back to your epidermis. 

You can also tailor your skincare routine to your unique needs. If you notice a new pimple or puffy under-eyes after a night out, by all means, reach for your favorite spot treatment or eye cream. 

Hangover Essentials: Skincare Edition

Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($300)

This powerful hyaluronic acid serum will give your skin the potent dose of hydration it needs. 

Avène Soothing Sheet Mask x 5 ($42)

These soothing sheet masks were made specifically for dry, dehydrated, and puffy skin. 

Caudalie Premier Cru Anti-Aging Serum ($150)

Formulated with polyphenols, resveratrol, and hyaluronic acid, this antioxidant serum will quench your skin's thirst.

SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex ($98)

This top-rated eye complex is the answer to your dark under-eye circles.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Face Moisturizer ($16)

This budget, dermatologist-recommended moisturizer is formulated with replenishing hyaluronic acid.

Dr. Jart Soothing Hydra Solution Sheet Mask ($6)

This ultra-hydrating mask is formulated with moisturizing Aquaxyl, xylitol, and aloe vera.

Joanna Vargas Rescue Serum ($150)

The name of this antioxidant-rich serum says it all.

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum ($48)

Formulated with pro-vitamin B5 and pineapple ceramide, B-Hydra is a cool drink of water for thirsty skin.

IS Clinical Hydra-Intensive Cooling Masque ($85)

With hyaluronic acid and aloe vera, this anti-inflammatory gel mask will soothe, calm, and hydrate your skin.

Tata Harper Repairative Anti-Aging Moisturizer ($116)

This anti-aging moisturizer is formulated with powerful dual-weight hyaluronic acid and firming buckbean extract. 

Next up: This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Alcohol

This article originally appeared on The Thirty

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