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Some days happy hour can’t come soon enough. Unwinding with your favorite cocktail can signal the end of a long day’s work, and release some much needed (if temporary) serotonin. But, consistent sipping can silently wreak havoc, specifically when you consider what it can do to your skin.
From zapping skin of its moisture to slowing down the processes of cellular repair, alcohol can damage your complexion; studies have shown that even moderate alcohol consumption affects skin.
Serena Poon, a chef and nutritionist says a couple drinks per week “can cause under eye puffiness and reduced facial volume.” Heavy alcohol use, which she says “is considered eight or more drinks per week for women,” is associated with “amplified signs of aging.”
Habitual drinking can “accentuate fine lines, broken blood vessels, sun spots, and puffy eyes,” says Brendan Camp, MD, a double-board certified dermatologist. Of course, the best way to prevent your skin from fielding the negative effects of alcohol is to not drink altogether. But if you do choose to drink occasionally, you can mitigate the damage with certain lifestyle choices—how much you imbibe, how and what you drink, and how you care for your skin during and after drinking. Ahead, a team of pros offer advice on how to enjoy a cocktail or two without sacrificing the integrity of your complexion.
Is Alcohol Bad for Your Skin?
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases your body’s urine production. “This causes the body to flush out excess water and salt at an increased rate,” explains registered dietician, Tony Castillo. In other words, it’s quite dehydrating, which does a number on your skin.
Lisa Richards, a registered dietician and candida expert says internal hydration is key when consuming alcohol. “Consider drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage. It will likely increase your trips to the bathroom,” she says, “but will leave your skin well hydrated and may even mitigate headaches.” Poon suggests drinking alkaline water, as it can “balance the acidity levels in the body.” She also likes sipping on “sparkling water with citrus to help give your brain the impression of having a drink in hand,” in-between alcoholic beverages.
You also want to make sure your skin gets adequate hydration if you habitually drink alcohol, as booze will lead to “chronic dry skin,” according to Castillo. Drinks high in salt might be especially harsh on the complexion because they’re so dehydrating. Celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse, Natalie Aguilar says, “Salty drinks can leave our skin extremely puffy and dull, and can exacerbate redness in those with sensitive skin. To combat dehydration, try to incorporate a hydrating, water-binding serum like PCA’s Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum.”
Incorporate a moisturizer that contains a rich medley of ingredients to regulate water loss. “Moisturize each night and the morning after a night of drinking,” says Richards. Camp advises you to find a moisturizer with “B vitamin, nicotinamide to calm skin; hyaluronic acid, a humectant that attracts water molecules; and ceramides, or lipids naturally found in the epidermis that maintain the barrier function of the skin.”