How alcohol effects your skin?

Lucija Kracun, MD, CEO and owner

Lucija Kračun, MD
Specialist of family practise
AAAMED diploma for aesthetic medicine

A balm for the soul and heart, but a nightmare for the body and skin – yes, all of these are usually included in the package of the best holiday season of the year.

Who doesn’t look forward to dinner with loved ones? Under the lights with hot punch and mulled wine. Or good parties with friends and colleagues? After you have managed to overcome challenges and achieve your goals together. But in addition to unforgettable memories, these pleasant moments have another point in common – alcohol. And although we listen to warnings about its bad effects on our bodies practically from an early age, most of us like to drink a glass or two (too) much, at least on social occasions. If you’re one of them and maybe need an extra nudge to say no to that tempting almond tequila at two in the morning, check out what all these outrageously good drinks can do to your skin. Frankly – nothing good. Especially if you struggle with acne or rosacea.

How well do alcohol and skin get along?

It is completely pointless to bend and beautify, because the fact will not be any less painful and the truth will quickly become obvious – the skin does not like alcohol! In fact, drinking alcohol is even one of the worst vices for our skin. Namely, alcohol is a toxin with little nutritional value, which contributes to the deterioration of the liver and immune system, hormonal disorders, cell damage and insulin problems, all of which affect the quality, appearance and speed of aging of our skin. At the same time, it is also a diuretic, so we can quickly lose a lot of water from our body, which will make our skin dehydrated and pale.

(Too) long series of negative effects

1. Dehydration

Alcohol is not only a diuretic that significantly accelerates the elimination of water from the body, but it also makes rehydration quite difficult. So, we may be struggling with dry, flaky skin, accentuated fine lines and wrinkles well into January! Especially because winter is not a very kind season for our skin.

2. Puffiness

We have (unfortunately) only just begun listing the bad news. Even worse than dehydration is the inflammatory effect it has on our body. Drinking alcoholic beverages triggers inflammatory processes inside us, which quickly shows up on the skin in the form of redness, eruptions, and puffiness.

3. Break out

To top it all off, alcoholic drinks are also usually high in sugar. Cocktails are therefore a particularly bad choice, and if we overdo it too often, it soon shows treacherously on our face. Because the sugar in alcohol can literally crystallize our skin cells, which is called glycation and leads to thinning of the epidermis, loss of elasticity and uneven complexion.

4. Hormonal disorders

But that’s not all – the sugar in alcohol also triggers an insulin response, and elevated insulin can negatively affect thyroid and sex hormones and cause hormonal imbalance and, as a result, of course, skin problems. On the other hand, lowered insulin levels can lead to diabetes in chronic alcohol abuse.

5. Disturbances of the microbiome

Last, but by no means least, keep in mind that alcohol destroys the healthy and extremely important bacteria that live in our gut and take care of our immune system. Which is even more important when managing inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea. Shall we go on?


If you don’t want to count the glasses at every party in happy December, you must help your body detoxify and regenerate. And nothing stimulates skin cells more effectively than retinol (vitamin A). Fight tired and lifeless skin, then follow up with fantastic plant oils and products that contain mega-moisturizers like hyaluronic acid. Encourage liver detoxification by drinking at least two liters of water daily, to which you add lemon. It’s true that some people also swear by the antioxidants in red wine, but the alcohol and sugar content, unfortunately, cancel out any benefits they could have for our skin.

So how soon will you notice the unpleasant signs and how long will they last?

The short-term effects will be seen almost immediately and within 24 hours after (just one) night of heavy drinking, that means three drinks or more, our skin will look dull, loose, and greyish, and those of you who suffer from acne or rosacea will notice marked deterioration.

And how long will it take to recover? Some can boast that they look reborn “already” on the third day after not drinking a single drop and the liver has taken care of a thorough cleaning action, while others need a week or more. It depends on the other condition of the skin, age, gender, genetic predispositions, metabolism, and more.

Top 5 alcoholic enemies of our skin according to experts

Top 5 alcoholic enemies of our skin according to experts

1. Liqueur

There’s 5g (1 tsp) of sugar in a 25ml jar of Baileys, plus additives and milk cream, which is full of saturated fat that tires skin cells.

2. Margaritas

High levels of sugar and alcohol, as mentioned, cause inflammation, sensitivity, breakouts, redness, and cell damage. Add to that the high amount of salt that causes water retention, and you have the answer to why you look bloated and puffy the morning after your margarita party. In fact, all cocktails contain a lot of sugar.

3. Red wine

Now what about red wine, you ask? It is a vasodilator that causes blood vessels to dilate and redness, and it also releases histamine, which again causes redness and flushing. Therefore, if you are struggling with rosacea, avoid red wine altogether.

  1. Ok, and white?
  2. It won’t do you much better either, as it contains sulfites that can irritate the skin, and it’s also high in sugar.
  3. Prosecco

Another sugar bomb, often full of preservatives and additives. What’s worse is that it’s so easy to drink that we tend to drink (really) a lot of it.

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