What really happens to our skin when we drink alcohol

Many of us enjoy a tipple or two whatever the time of year. During Christmas it may be a Sloe Gin in front of the fire or in Summer it may be enjoying a spritzer in a pub garden. Drinking is sociable and undoubtably a release and though it may make us feel relaxed, do we ever think about exactly what it’s doing to our skin? That recognisable feeling of waking up with the bright red ‘alcohol flush’ after a night on the town is so common. Heck, many people even begin turning a shade of scarlett minutes after a drop passes their lips. While you’re waking up with a dry mouth post-night out you are most certainly going to wake up with horrendously dry skin. But why? We’ve asked the experts the question of what actually happens to our skin when we drink alcohol.

“Alcohol, especially when consumed in toxic quantities can have significant effects on our bodies” says Dr Rupert Critchley at Viva Skin Clinics, “The dull, slate grey appearance you may notice the morning after is due to a combination of poor sleep, dehydration and lack of nutrients to the skin”. Dr Critchley continues to say that “drinking heavily and often, can not only speed up the ageing process but also result in more permanent damage, leaving your skin looking dull, lifeless and wrinkled

Dermatologist Dr Goldfaden provided us some insight on exactly why this happens when we enjoy a drink or three; “alcohol contains sugar whether you add it in a mixer or not” says Dr Goldfaden, “when our bodies break down alcohol it turns it to sugar. When we ingest too much sugar, our protein molecules can cross-link with sugar molecules which causes the formation of new sugar-protein molecules. The body does not recognise these molecules and produces antibodies against them. These antibodies cause inflammation and the onset of Glycation. Glycation is responsible for the breakdown of collagen which causes sagging skin, wrinkles, fine lines and overall dullness of the complexion”.

But what about the redness we experience? Consultant Dermatologist at The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic, Dr Adam Friedmann explains “the main changes you might see are of blood vessel dilation. In essence, they make the face look quite red. Alcohol dilates the blood vessels and increases the cardiac output so that everything gets redder”. “Anyone who already has skin disease such as dermatitis or psoriasis will often notice it worsening” says Dr Friedmann. “Acne rosacea is the most famous of the conditions that worsens with alcohol. The combination of repeated alcohol intake and vascular dilation, can cause chronic redness and eventually, if consumed in access for long enough, can exacerbate the enlarging of the nose that is seen in chronic rosacea”

Dehydration, red and lifeless skin are all major concerns when it comes to alcohol and the skin. Dr Murad, world renowned dermatologist and founder of Murad Skincare advices that we “look out for products rich in antioxidants to neutralise the effects of alcohol on the skin. Green Tea, Pomegranate Extract, Vitamins C and E help neutralise free radical damage”.

Timebomb Skincare Expert and Celebrity Facialist Michaella Bolder says; “if you do happen to overindulge, drink a glass of hot water with fresh lemon, this will help to flush out any unwanted toxins and kick start your bodies function”. Follow this, she says “with green teas throughout the day to detox the  sugary foods and slot a pure green juice into your day to aid liver function and alkalise the inflammation”

Skin Picks

Murad Hydro-Dynamic Quenching Essence (£59.50) to help with the dehydrating effect of alcohol on the skin, this silky smooth hydration booster enhances the skins ability to product hyaluronic acid. Skin quenching Watermelon and Apple Extract instantly hydrate thirsty skin.

Time Bomb Complexion Cocktail with a shot of Chlorophyll (£24.50). This skin tonic counters the effect of toxins on the skin thanks to the shot of Chlorophyll which literally scavenges and destroys toxins. It also contains antioxidant Red Clover, Wheat Grass and Vitamin C to soothe even the most inflamed skin. There are also two types of hyaluronic acid to restore moisture levels after a night of drinking.

Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Glow Boost Skin Serum (£16.99) is a unique combination of Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid and an effective skin lightening algae extract aim to deeply replenish, boost collagen synthesis and enhance the appearance of skin.



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