Most of us enjoy a drink, whether it’s celebrating with friends or unwinding after a long day at work. For many, a bottle of bubbly or a few drinks with friends is as much about symbolism and the ritual as it is about enjoying a tipple – and that’s why giving up the booze can be a challenge, even for those of us with impressive willpower. But as much as we may like a wine or two (or three, if we’re honest…), there are significant beauty reasons to lay off the booze on a more regular basis – and some of them may shock you.
So what is alcohol actually doing to your skin?
The bad news is, it’s doing a lot of bad things. From permanent redness to premature wrinkles, the sobering fact is that alcohol and your skin are not friends, and they never will be.
We all know that the more you drink, the less hydrated you are – and that goes for your skin too. As a diuretic, alcohol forces water out of your body. That makes your skin look less plump and fresh the morning after, and over time, that means wrinkles. Overdoing it on the booze also makes it more difficult for your body to rehydrate afterwards and you may have experienced dry skin the day after a big night. Immediately, the lack of water in your skin makes the lines you already have more visible, and over time your skin won’t bounce back to its pre-drinking firmness the way it used to.
Puffiness and redness
On the flip side, too much alcohol can make your face puffy – usually after a night of sugary drinks. This is due to the inflammatory effect that alcohol (and sugar) has on our bodies. When we drink, it causes our insides to become inflamed and this presents in your skin as redness, breakouts and puffiness. The histamine released by alcohol also dilates the blood’s capillaries, and the result of that is redness of the skin. Whilst you may not be concerned at the time, if you consistently get flushed from drinking, and that’s sustained over time, that redness can become prominent and permanent.
Collagen loss & breakouts
Two things no woman (or man for that matter) wants to hear, but drinking can cause both. Alcohol depletes vitamin A, which is crucial in the formation of new cells and collagen – and that means too much alcohol can speed up the ageing process. Collagen loss is accelerated, making your skin look more weathered. To add insult to this injury, a night on the sauce can also create or worsen breakouts. Again sugar is partially the culprit here. Alcoholic drinks are often high in sugar, and we know that cocktails and wine are amongst the worst – and we also know that if you’re overindulging too often this sugar spike will show up as a breakout. The dilation of your pores created by alcohol may sound like a good thing, but it can actually lead to blackheads and whiteheads. And lets admit it, how many of us wash our faces properly after a big night out? That’s not helping either!
Finally, and we know this isn’t about your face, but the average wine drinker also adds an extra 2000 calories to their intake every month, which over an annual basis is the equivalent of eating 221 doughnuts!
So which drinks are your skin’s worst enemy?
We’re not suggesting that we all have to become teetotalers if we want good skin. We’re firm believers in having a good time and for many of us, we can enjoy a drink without going overboard all the time. But if you are worried about the effect that alcohol is having on your skin, these are the top three drinks to avoid:
Sadly, the combination of sugar and alcohol found in most mojitos means they’re particularly bad for drinkers concerned about wrinkles. The disruptive duo leads to systemic inflammation, which can lead to premature ageing, and also creates a spike in insulin levels, which can create that morning after acne that we’ve all suffered from.
It’s not just the combination of sugar and alcohol that you need to worry about. The elements that make a margarita so delicious are also what make it so bad for your skin. Sugar plus salt plus booze means you get all the negatives of the above, plus a puffy face.
Possibly the most heartbreaking of all, red wine is one of the worst drinks for your skin and your face. Alcohol generally promotes the opening of blood vessels in the skin, which leads to increased redness, and red wine is one of the worst offenders because it’s also a histamine which further adds to redness and flushing. If you’re prone to redness in your skin or you suffer from rosacea, red wine may quickly become your worst enemy.
So how do we take care of our skin and still have a good time?
The good news? Your skin, like any other organ, has the ability to regenerate itself and your body has an amazing rate of rehydration. But that regeneration depends on how much damage has been done. If you’ve been drinking for 15 years and decide to stop, it will definitely help your body going forwards, but your skin is not going to be able to regenerate back to that of a normal 50 year old. The truth is that once you destroy collagen, it’s difficult to get it back, but there are ways to minimise the damage.
Know your limits
How your body handles and processes alcohol changes as you age. An alcoholic drink leaves your body in about 3 hours when you’re 20, but by the time you hit 40 it takes 33 hours – which explains why your recovery time is so much longer and your hangovers seem to get worse as you age! So basically if you’re drinking in your forties and you’re worried about your skin, you should probably be waiting a day in between drinks, or keep it to once or twice a week.
We all know this one – alternate between water and alcohol if you’re going to drink. What you may not know is that alcohol is a toxin with little nutrient value and can contribute to poorer liver function, reduced immunity, hormone disruption, cell damage and insulin issues all impacting on the quality, appearance and ageing of your skin. Alcohol is also a diuretic, so you can lose plenty of skin cell-loving water from the body quite rapidly, leaving your skin dehydrated and dull. Drinking plenty of water while you drink – and of course every day – is a good way to maintain some of the hydration that alcohol is depleting.
Choose low or no alcohol options
As society becomes increasingly health conscious, the options for those who want to minimise their alcohol intake are increasing. And the good news is, you can still actually have a wine without having a drink! The clever winemakers at Edenvale Beverages has created alcohol-free versions of your favourite wines, and they also have roughly half the calories of standard wine. They’ve just launched their Premium Reserve range which includes a Sparkling Blanc De Blanc, a Sparkling Shiraz, and a Pinot Noir. Made using exactly the same process as traditional wine, the alcohol is extracted at the final stage, meaning these wines are actually that – wines. So instead of bemoaning never drinking again to save your skin, you can continue to drink lovely wines and have your collagen too.