Is Alcohol Bad for Your Skin? Here Are the Effects of Alcohol On Your Face & Skin

alcohol effects on face

While many of us will often enjoy a social drink with friends or a glass of wine on the sofa after a long week of work, we all know that alcohol is rarely the healthiest option.

You might be noticing that your hangovers are getting worse with time, and maybe you are beginning to reflect on the more long-term repercussions that each drink has on your health. But, have you considered what alcohol does to your skin?

What might not have been our first concern during our college days is now becoming a bigger priority, especially as our skin loses its ability to bounce back from damage. You might be wondering is alcohol bad for your skin, and if so, what can you do about now?

Alcohol can cause a range of issues including dehydration and premature aging, but the good news is that there is a difference between casual social drinking and binge drinking every week, and you don't need to cut alcohol out of your life completely to look after your skin. Like most things in life, it's all about a healthy balance.

So how does alcohol affect the skin? This article will cover exactly what alcohol does to your skin, and what you can do to minimize the damage.


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What Happens To Your Skin When You Drink Alcohol?


First up, let's take a look at the 4 main effects of alcohol on the skin.


1. Dehydration


We all know that feeling of being absolutely parched after an evening of drinking alcohol, but why does this happen?

Although alcoholic beverages are liquids that might seem hydrating like any other drink, the reality is exactly the opposite. When you drink an alcoholic beverage, alcohol enters your digestive system and becomes acetaldehyde – a chemical that is toxic at high levels. Your liver then kicks into high gear to flush this toxin out in a process that causes you to urinate more frequently and flushes much-needed water and salt from your body.1

This diuretic effect leaves your body dehydrated, which in turn, robs your skin of precious moisture. So it's true, there is a connection between frequently drinking alcohol and skin that is dry, dehydrated, and prone to peeling. Even worse, dry skin that is continually robbed of moisture will become dull and form fine lines and wrinkles more easily, so an alcohol habit could potentially be adding years to your face.


More helpful reading on liver disease & skin (Renew Alliance)


2. Inflammation


You might be all too familiar with the telltale rosy flush that appears in your cheeks after a couple of glasses of wine or one too many vodka-sodas. Aside from being a little embarrassing, this is a sign that alcohol affects your circulation and overall skin health.

Alcohol creates inflammation in skin tissue and makes our blood vessels dilate, increasing circulation to the surface of the skin and causing redness in the face and puffy eyes and cheeks. This can range from gentle flushing to more serious cosmetic concerns like rosacea. Rosacea can lead to symptoms like harsh red cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead, as well as persistent pimples, bumps, and uneven skin texture.2

The persistent inflammation caused by regular alcohol consumption can also lead to psoriasis, a condition characterized by frequent rashes and patches of scaly, dry skin.3 

alcohol effects on skin photos


If you are looking for the best skin care products for redness, Renew Alliance can help with that!


3. Breakouts


Now that you know that alcohol is a toxin that your body has to work hard to digest and remove from your system, it won't come as a surprise that it also has negative impacts on your immune system. Regular drinking weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to infections, which in turn can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria or viruses that cause spots, pimples, and cold sores.

Alcohol also affects your liver and hormone function, and a study by the National Public Health Institute in Finland says that small doses of alcohol can increase testosterone in both men and women.4

This kind of hormonal change can stimulate the oil glands in your dermis and increase sebum production, leading to acne-style breakouts of pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads.


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4. Premature Aging


The inflammation caused by drinking in excess doesn't just cause redness in the face, it also releases enzymes that break down the collagen and elastin in your dermis. This, in turn, can cause wrinkles and make your skin more prone to sagging.

This is especially true for the delicate skin around the eye area, meaning that alcohol drinkers will be more prone to crow's feet and dark droopy under-eye bags than their sober counterparts. Alcohol drinkers may also be more prone to sagging cheeks and jowls.

Alcohol also allows free radicals to wreak havoc in your body, causing skin cell damage that can lead to age spots and a dull or hyperpigmented complexion.


More helpful reading:


How To Minimize The Effects Of Drinking Alcohol On Your Skin


Now that you know the bad news about alcohol's impact on your complexion, let's take a look at the actions you can take to reduce the effects of alcohol on your skin.


1. Choose Your Drinks Wisely


Cutting back on your alcohol consumption is one of the best things you can do for your skin, period. While you might not want to give up alcohol completely, you can give up drinking to excess by reducing the number of units you consume each week.

The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans says that drinking in moderation is key to reducing the risk of alcohol-related harm on your body. It says that moderation is defined as 1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men, on days when you do decide to drink (i.e. not every day of the week).5

It should also be said that not all beverages are created equal, and you can help your skin by making healthy choices when you get to the bar for your next order.

Beer contains sugar, salt, and yeast, all of which can lead to bloating for both your stomach and your face, but the good news is that it's not the worst offender for your skin and a couple of small beers won't do much harm.

Wine contains sulfites that trigger redness and inflammation, but if you enjoy a glass of Pinot Grigio now and again you can always opt for organic wines, which have fewer sulfites and less sugar.

Red wines also contain resveratrol which is a powerful antioxidant that can have some health benefits. However, an article from the National Rosacea Society says that red wine is the number one offender for inflammation and redness in the face, so if you find yourself prone to rosacea-related conditions it may be best to stay away from it altogether.6

The best options for your skin overall are clear alcohols, such as vodka, gin, and tequila. These clear drinks have the least sugar, are easiest to digest quickly, and cause the least inflammation. Don't forget to avoid sugary mixers and cocktails though, or all of your best efforts will be for nothing. Opt for soda water or flavored sparkling water with your vodka or gin instead, and your skin will thank you for it!

alcohol effects on skin

More helpful reading from RenewSkin Inc.: Keto Diet and Skin


2. Hydrate


On a normal day when you are not drinking, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says that women need 11.5 cups of water to stay healthy and hydrated, while men need 15.5 cups.7

As you now know, when you drink alcohol your body kicks into high gear to flush toxins, water, and salt from your body, leaving you prone to additional dehydration. To counter this, you will need to up your water intake. A good rule of thumb for your night out is to alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water to avoid dehydration.

In addition to drinking enough water, a well-maintained moisturizing routine will help your skin bounce back more easily from a night of alcohol indulgence. Look for a good face moisturizer with ingredients like hyaluronic acid (HA), ceramides, or lactic acid to rehydrate your skin and maintain your dewy glow.


Hydrate From Within With A Moisture-Boosting Supplement


You can moisturize and nourish your skin from the inside out with Taut Hydrate, the best hyaluronic acid capsules Renew Alliance has to offer. Made with 99% pure hyaluronic acid and grape seed extract, Taut Hydrate is designed to plump and super-hydrate your skin, plump up lips, protect against free radical damage, and boost your skin's radiance for a healthy glow.

Hyaluronic acid is a moisture magnet that can attract and retain up to 1000 times its weight in water, keeping your collagen flexible and improving skin elasticity, thus helping to transform dry and dehydrated skin into a smooth and supple complexion.


3. Protect Against Sun Damage


While alcohol works to damage your collagen and elastin supplies, it is also weakening your defenses against the sun's rays, leaving your complexion vulnerable to wrinkles, sagging, and age spots.

Your skin is particularly vulnerable when you are day-drinking in the sunshine, so if you are on holiday enjoying a margarita at the beach, make sure you wear good quality sunscreen. Aim for SPF 50 for your face on a sunny day or if you will be spending a long time outdoors, otherwise a little less protection (i.e. SPF 30) is fine for day-to-day use.


More helpful reading on summertime skin care.


4. Get Help From Antioxidants


Your liver is the organ responsible for detoxing your body naturally, and when you drink it works overtime to remove the toxins of alcohol from your system. To balance your alcohol consumption, you should support your liver's natural detox functions by including plenty of antioxidants in both your diet and your skin care routine.

Antioxidants support your liver and fight free radicals in the body, which can combat dullness, dehydration, thinning skin, redness, and inflammation.

You can incorporate antioxidants into your diet by consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and green tea. In skin care, look for products that are rich in vitamin C, L-Glutathione, niacinamide, grape seed extract, french pine bark, or vitamin A.


Find more helpful reading in this article on the best foods for skin.


Detox Your Complexion With A Skin-Loving Supplement


With Taut Bright, you can support healthy liver function with a daily dose of powerful antioxidants that will get to work on brightening your skin.

Alcohol causes a build-up of waste in the liver, which in turn leads to skin imperfections like dullness, hyperpigmentation, and age spots.

Taut Bright is a beauty supplement that contains 7 powerful anti-oxidants and active ingredients proven by science to help protect against cellular damage, inhibit melanin production, and fade hyperpigmentation, leaving you with fewer age spots and naturally lighter skin.

Just two capsules a day can help you counteract the negative impacts of alcohol on your skin and lead you towards a fair and luminous complexion.


5. Perfect Your Morning-After Skincare Routine


After a night of drinking, you will probably be feeling the negative effects of alcohol on your skin almost immediately.

A combination of alcohol and a lack of beauty sleep will not only leave you feeling tired and dehydrated, but your complexion will also be suffering and you will likely see some puffiness around your eyes and cheeks, a dull or grey hue, and dehydrated skin.

Make sure you stock up on some good quality morning-after skincare that can help you combat these effects and nip them in the bud. You'll want something to reduce puffiness and calm inflammation, so look for a combination of antioxidants and rich moisturizing ingredients.


More helpful reading: How to increase collagen


Soothe & Nourish Tired Skin With A Relaxing Sheet Mask


Taut Collagen Mask is the perfect option to restore your skin to health. This is a rich and nourishing sheet mask that you can apply for 15 to 20 minutes while you sit back, close your eyes, and let it work its magic.

Infused with marine collagen peptides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C, it provides the perfect combination of anti-aging, moisturizing, and brightening ingredients that work to hydrate, repair, and protect your skin.

This luxurious treatment can help soothe inflamed skin and repair damage, reduce puffy eyes and cheeks, as well as brighten a dull complexion. It's the perfect repair after an evening of drinks or a bad night's sleep, which will have you ready for a new day in no time!

More helpful reading: Skin care for women over 50 


Repair & Protect Your Complexion With Taut


If you are looking for an intensive restorative skin care regimen to combat the effects of alcohol, our Taut Anti Oxy Foxy transformation program could be for you.

This kit combines our Premium Collagen Drink with the powerful antioxidant French Pine Bark supplement, in a 24-day program designed to minimize the signs of aging and protect your skin and body from free radical damage.

Taut Premium Collagen Drink contains an impressive 13,000mg of marine collagen peptides, which works by triggering your dermis to produce more collagen which in turn improves skin elasticity, tones and tightens skin, and minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Just one delicious orange drink per day can help you fight back against the premature aging brought on by excess alcohol.

Taken in tandem with our collagen drink, the protective and healing properties of French Pine Bark will help protect collagen fibers, strengthen blood vessels, improve circulation, and minimize the appearance of varicose veins.

Even better, our products contain no chemicals, no preservatives, and are sweetened with plant-based Stevia, so you can rest assured that no more toxins will enter your system.

Still not sure? Try our skincare quiz to find the perfect program for you!