6 Ways Alcohol May Be Damaging Your Skin

party drinking champagne alcohol

It’s very common to have a glass or three of wine at the end of the day to unwind – but you may be causing your skin to age more quickly.

It’s normal to want to unwind after a long day of working or parenting or both. Life can get pretty intense and after a day at the job, getting stuck in traffic, doing the shopping, feeding and wrangling the kids, and a dozen other tasks, a glass of wine can take the edge off.

But regular alcohol consumption can actually cause damage to your skin, leading to ‘wine face’ and early ageing. So, what exactly is ‘wine face’ and how does alcohol harm your skin?

1: Booze dehydrates your skin

Part of the reasons hangovers are so horrible is because alcohol dehydrates your whole body, including your skin.

If your body doesn’t have enough moisture, it will scale back collagen production – it’s more important for your internal organs to be hydrated than your skin. Collagen keeps your skin smooth and firm, so less of it means more wrinkles.

Collagen production decreases as we age anyway, so this effect only increases over time.

2: Alcohol interrupts your sleep

You probably know how important it is to get enough rest. Your mind and body need rest to function properly, and that includes your skin. Your body takes the opportunity to repair damage and rebuild skin while you sleep, which is why no one looks fresh-faced after an all-nighter.

Alcohol actually suppresses melatonin production, which disrupts your sleep patterns and stops you from sleeping deeply.

3: More alcohol means more sugar

Many types of alcohol contain sugar, including wine, cider, and especially mixed drinks like gin and tonic.

Alcohol consumption also causes higher blood sugar over time due to its effect on your metabolism.

Sugar molecules attach to the elastin and collagen proteins in your skin and create advanced glycosylation end-products (AGE), which lead to wrinkles and pallid skin.

4: Alcohol suppresses vitamin absorption

Drinking alcohol leads to less vitamin absorption. That means that even if you’re eating healthy foods, you won’t be absorbing the nutrients and could even end up with a vitamin deficiency.

Vitamins A, B, and E are all highly important for producing and repairing skin cells – less of them means unhealthy skin.

5: Alcohol can disrupt your bedtime routines

Alcohol can also affect your skin less directly. After a drink or two, it’s easy to get too sleepy and skip your bedtime skincare routine.

If you miss washing your face or removing makeup a few times a week, your skin will be more prone to acne and other issues. If you’re also missing steps like moisturising regularly, your skin could be in real trouble over the long term.

6: Alcohol can make skin disorders worse

As well as the issues above, alcohol can also cause or exacerbate skin conditions like rosacea and psoriasis.

Rosacea leads to skin that is red and sensitive. Over time, it can cause the skin to become leathery and more wrinkled. Drinking can bring on rosacea and many people find that alcohol can cause or intensify outbreaks.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease with a genetic basis that causes the overproduction of skin cells. While alcohol doesn’t cause psoriasis, it can trigger the symptoms or make them worse by increasing the production of inflammatory cytokines, leading to an excessive anti-inflammatory response.

The exact cause of psoriasis isn’t yet understood but a study of over 80,000 women found an increased risk of psoriasis outbreaks among people who drank 2-3 beers or more per week. Studies have also found that alcohol drinkers tend to develop psoriasis on the backs of the hands and fingers.

What can you do to avoid alcohol-induced skin problems?

If you’re worried about the effect alcohol is having on your skin, one option is to quit altogether. However, this can be hard for many people and you can minimize the negative effects without becoming a teetotaller.

Start treating alcohol as a treat for special occasions rather than a daily necessity. Also, make sure you’re drinking a glass of water in between every alcoholic beverage to keep your body hydrated. But if you really want to help your skin (not to mention your body and brain) thrive, consider giving up alcohol altogether. Your skin will look better and you won’t miss the hangovers or fatigue!