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How Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Skin

Nov 1st 2020

How Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Skin

It’s Friday night and you’ve just snapped your laptop shut at the end of another long week of work. Time to grab some friends and head out for a few sips of something delicious that will help you unwind.

I enjoy a perfectly-mixed cocktail as much as anyone, but we all know alcohol has its downsides if you go overboard. You know how it can affect your liver, and you’ve probably felt your body’s resistance in the form of a hangover or an upset stomach more than once.

Did you know drinking can affect your skin, too? Let’s take a closer look at what alcohol can do to your skin and how you can minimize the effects without giving up happy hour.


When you drink (or, really, after you drink), it can lead to swelling throughout your body. It’s usually not noticeable except on one area that’s particularly contoured: your face. That’s unfortunate for all of us because it’s probably the last place we want to have swelling.

It’s especially common to see puffiness under your eyes the morning after a night out on the town. That puffiness gets even worse because alcohol doesn’t usually lead to a great night of sleep, so the lack of sleep adds dark circles to the mix.

The Remedy

On top of keeping your drinking to a moderate level, start using a de-puffing eye cream on a regular basis. This will calm the puffiness on that unpleasant morning while also firming the skin under your eyes so any puffiness is less pronounced. For an especially soothing effect, store your eye cream in the fridge.

Breakouts of Skin Conditions

There are several chronic skin conditions that follow a flare-up-and-remission cycle: you always have the condition but the symptoms come and go. This includes rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and even dandruff.

For people with these conditions, the name of the game is to find ways to minimize their symptoms. In most cases, there are certain circumstances that tend to trigger flare-ups, and drinking alcohol is a common trigger.

The Remedy

Because these are medical conditions, it’s best to coordinate with a dermatologist who can help you manage your condition. By keeping up with their medication regimen and other advice they give you, you can cut down your risk for a flare-up.

More Sun Damage

This one throws some people for a loop because we all know that red wine is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help to reduce the free radicals that come from sun damage, so you’d think red wine would benefit your skin.

Unfortunately, the alcohol in the wine has the opposite effect. Some research suggests that alcohol can interfere with your body’s ability to fight sun damage, leaving you more vulnerable to skin cancer as well as photo-aging and age spots.

The Remedy

The key to cutting down on sun damage is to get into the habit of using a daily sunscreen. It should be just as much of a part of your morning routine as brushing your teeth.


As we make this transition to fall and then winter, dry skin is a struggle most of us will be battling for the next few months. A glass of neat whiskey feels like a great way to warm up in these cooler months, but as it turns out, it doesn’t help with the dryness that the cold air brings. It does the exact opposite.

Alcohol dehydrates your body from head to toe, which is the culprit behind most of the unpleasantness you feel the morning after a fun night. That dehydration reaches your skin too.

The Remedy

A good rule of thumb to cut down on dehydration is to alternate between alcohol and water. In other words, drink a glass of water after each alcoholic drink. For your skin, you can also prepare in advance with a moisturizer like the NeoStrata Ultra Moisturizing Face Cream. It won’t stop the alcohol from dehydrating your skin from the inside, but at least it’ll keep the outside air from adding to the problem.

Keeping the Party Alive for Your Skin

There’s something about grabbing drinks and sharing laughs with good friends that feels therapeutic and refreshing, no matter what kind of week you’ve had. Okay, it’s probably the buzz you get from the cocktails. Regardless, you don’t have to let alcohol wreak havoc on your skin in the process.

On top of drinking in moderation, practice a consistent daily skincare routine and use the tips above when you head out for a night on the town. With that combo, your happy hour squad and your skin will both be unstoppable.