This 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
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.