Sorry, but Here Are 4 Ways Booze Can Affect Your Skin (Yep, Really)

Close up on skinClose up on skin

Many of us have been known to enjoy a tipple, or several.

But no matter your beverage of choice, unless you’ve got a magic power, you’ve likely seen signs of your big night on your skin the following day.

(If you do have a booze-erasing magic power, please turn yourself in to be studied by scientists immediately. Thank you.)

You might not want to hear it, but the simple truth is: drinking alcohol isn't doing great things for your skin. And if you’re consuming lots of it, all the serums in the world aren’t going to be able to counteract the effects.

We believe being informed is key (even if only to have the knowledge stored somewhere in the back of our brains). Thankfully for all of us, Hannah and Jo spoke to dermatologist Dr Philip Tong on a recent Beauty IQ Uncensored episode to ask the big questions about the alcohol effects on skin.

Turns out, there are four main ways alcohol can affect your skin. Keep scrolling to learn all about it. Sorry.

Alcohol Effects on Skin.

1. Alcohol and Pimples.

Ever noticed your skin hosting more breakouts than normal after drinking? Blame it on the alcohol.

“Patients who’ve had a big night out do tend to get breakouts the following day or the following few days. The alcohol can have detrimental effects on the skin, particularly in relation to skin dryness,” says Dr Tong.

“It can cause skin to be drier and when the skin is dry, the immune system kicks in and starts to ramp things up... and you can get more breakouts.”

You can listen to Hannah and Jo's full alcohol vs skin chat with dermatologist Dr Philip Tong in this episode of the Beauty IQ Uncensored podcast below!

2. Alcohol and Dehydrated Skin.

If you’ve ever wondered does alcohol age you, then the answer lies here: dehydration. 

You know that gasping for water, dry mouth feel you get when you wake up after a night of drinking? Well, your skin is feeling that, too. 

Dehydration - or a lack of water in the skin - is what causes skin to deteriorate faster and look older.

“Our skin has some of the most metabolic cells that actively need nutrition and water is the best way to do that,” says Dr Tong.

“Normally, I would recommend three litres a day. After a big night I would make sure I drink at least half a litre before I go to bed.”

If you want to help mitigate the after effects, try getting on the waters early.

“Drinking plenty of water before you go out and spacing your drinks out with plenty of water in between - that’s a good way to get your skin looking good the day after,” says Dr Tong.

As well as hydrating from the inside, he points to hyaluronic acid skincare, which can also help inject some hydration back into skin. 

3. Alcohol and Inflammation.

“Alcohol can certainly worsen conditions along with skin inflammation,” says Dr Tong.

It inflames the tissue, which can leave skin irritated or flushed. He says while there is a close link between alcohol and skin inflammation, unfortunately, it’s not been very well studied.

“Certainly speaking from my patients’ experiences, conditions like acne, eczema and rosacea flare up, so I do recommend keeping it to moderation for patients who do have these conditions."

4. Alcohol and Rosacea.

A common myth Dr Tong actually confirmed to be true for rosacea sufferers? Taking an antihistamine before you drink can help minimise or prevent that tell-tale flushing.

“It actually works! There has been research published in medical journals demonstrating that oral antihistamines reduce facial flushing when drinking alcohol,” he says.

The catch? He advises using with caution.

“Taking oral antihistamines can mask the damaging effects of alcohol, so my advice is best not to combine the two."

“I’d rather my patients know how much they’re drinking and just try to limit the amount of alcohol intake they’re having, rather than masking it with medication.”

The safer option is a foundation or concealer with a green tint that can help mask the redness if you are prone to flushing after drinking alcohol.

Can Skincare Ingredients Help After a Big Night?

“I don’t know how much a cream will do to prevent or mitigate the damaging effects of alcohol, but certainly doing everything you can after a big night out to protect your skin would be ideal, so using products with antioxidants and peptides would be helpful,” says Dr Tong.

Other ingredients worth looking to in the days after drinking include niacinamide to calm the skin down and topical hyaluronic acid to combat dehydration.

Here are some of our favourite niacinamide serums at different price points:

Side note - you can learn more about the skincare ingredient niacinamide in our YouTube explainer below!

What About Skincare Supplements?

They’re no miracle fix, but Dr Tong says they may make a small difference.

“Although no studies have investigated this, micronutrients, electrolytes and even marine collagen all help to provide nutrition to the skin. Collagen certainly helps the skin hydrate which has been demonstrated in clinical trials,” he says.

However, this is more in the aesthetic space rather than tested after a big night out.

“If you want to add it to your breakfast smoothie the following morning rather than the traditional Maccas coke, then that would be ideal!” he says.

Man’s on it.

So, What is the Best Drink for Your Skin?

Moderation is key, but if the occasion does call for a drink and you’re conscious about your skin, Dr Tong has two to call out; one better, one bad.

Red wine, being high in antioxidants and containing anti-ageing compounds such as resveratrol, may be better for your skin.

The worst? “Full-strength beers with high sugar content can definitely make skin worse and dehydrate the skin even more,” he says.

“If there was a preferred alcohol it would be a glass or two of red and limit it at that, however there is no real safe alcohol when it comes to skin.”

Sad, but true. 

So all in all, the key takeaways when it comes to alcohol and your skin are this: Moderation, hydration, and some targeted skincare the morning after.

We’ll raise a glass to that.

Want more helpful stories on skincare? Check out these posts from our Adore Beauty staff below!