Aging Fast with Alcohol– the Holiday Skin Hangover

Alcohol and the skinThis week, thousands  of celebrating Santas filled the streets on their annual pub crawl– and its hard to think of a worse night for your skin.  Drinking alcohol, even  that nightly glass of wine with dinner , affects your skin in eight ways– all bad.


How Alcohol Harms Your Skin

1. Dehydration


We all know how thirsty we are after  a party.  Alcohol actually speeds up   urination so that we lose  water with every drink .  If   you drink  8 oz of   alcohol  you will pee out  16 oz of water–  an attempt of the body to clean out  the toxins from the alcohol.  In the short  run,  the lack of moisture in  your skin will  make it  pale, with darker under eye circles   and accenturate lines and wrinkles.  Over time,  the lack of moisture in the body  will slow down growth and repair  causing early and rapid  aging.  Some experts suggest that you should drink two glasses of water for every glass of alcohol, but   in the  end you hold on to only about 30% of the extra water and your body  will still  be dehydrated after a  night of partying.

2.  Breakdown of Collagen

Alcohol stimulates the   production of a natural enzyme known as collagenase.  It’s designed as a clean-up tool in the body to remove  old damaged collagen and encourage the growth of new  collagen to  keep our skin  strong and smooth.  But alcohol puts the production of  collagenase into over-drive and it starts to destroy  healthy collagen.  This increased breakdown is one of the reason that heavy drinkers look so much older than their chronological age.

3.  Expands Blood Vessels

Alcohol makes us feel warm in part  due to the expansion of blood vessels.  You can actually see this in the  reddening of the skin as the night wears on.   Drink regularly and these dilated  blood vessels  become permanent as  a web of tiny red lines on the skin. These damaged blood vessels  cannot bring food and oxygen to the skin cells  slowing down growth and repair.  The net net result?   Skin that looks  rough, red and old beyond its years.

4.  Increases Inflammation

Alcohol contains two  chemicals, congeners  and aldehydes which  really hammer  the body. Congeners  are  produced in the fermentation process and they are to  blame for the classic symptoms of a hangover ( headache and nausea).  Dark liquors like scotch and bourbon have more congeners that   clear ones like vodka and gin.  If you stick with  just one  drink all evening, you  will feel better in the morning.  But because  the effect is not immediate, people tend to order more clear drinks  so the impact on the body is the same the next moring. Aldehydes damage the plasma membrane of a cell wall provoking an inflammatory cascade that leaves the skin dull and rough.

5.  Increased Acne

The hits  just keep coming.  Alcohol stimulates the hormones that regulate oil production.  This increased oil  clogs pores and provokes  and/or worsens skin breakouts.

6.   Provokes Both Rosacea and Psoriasis

Two out of three  people with  rosacea report  flares ups with  alcohol, especially with red wine.   Regular drinking is also linked  to   especially  dry skin of psoriasis that resists treatment.

7. Skin Cancers

For reasons that are not clear, drinking has been linked to increased risk of  all types of skin cancers, especially  the potentially deadly melanoma.

8.  Bruising and Discoloration

Alcohol washes  out  water soluable nutrients   such as vitamin B 12 and vitamin C.   Heavy drinkers  bruise easily  and  it is thought to be due to lack of vitamin C.  With this essential nutrient, blood vessels are especially fragile and tend to leak.

That’s the bad  news.  The good news?  When  you stop drinking  the  body starts to repair itself.   A  young  mom in the UK  decided to  stop  her nightly  glass of wine for a  month and her before and after photos  were published in the Daily Mail.   She was  a regular,  but not a heavy drinker, but after  just 30 days, the change  in her skin  was remarkable.

Holidays are a  wonderful time for family, friends and fun.  Just don’t  forget  that your skin needs some TLC.



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