Does Your Skin Have a Holiday Hangover?
‘Tis the season … for eating … and drinking.
We are all aware of the effects binge drinking can have on our health, but that doesn’t stop most of us from overindulging during the party season. What many people don’t realize is that drinking alcohol in excess can have a negative impact on our appearance. Alcohol dehydrates your body including the skin, your body’s largest organ. This happens every time you drink. Extra cocktails can be adding years to your face in the form of wrinkles, poor texture and lack of radiance.
Frequent alcohol consumption is also thought to deprive the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients.
“Over time, drinking heavily can have other, more permanent, detrimental effects on your skin,” said Dr. Gretchen Frieling, a Boston area board-certified dermatopathologist. “Rosacea, a skin disorder that starts with a tendency to blush and flush easily and can eventually lead to facial disfigurement, is linked to alcohol. Since alcohol increases your blood flow, it often causes blood vessels in your face to dilate (sometimes permanently) and often burst, leaving behind broken capillaries and red spots that are difficult to get rid of.”
Here is a look at what alcohol can do to wreak havoc on your appearance:
What is worse, drinking too much doesn’t only affect the appearance of your skin; it will dehydrate your hair, making it more prone to breaking and split ends. Weak, brittle hair in addition to premature wrinkling, can easily add 10 years to someone’s appearance.
Dark circles, bloodshot eyes and even blindness
In much the same way that alcohol causes broken capillaries on your face, it irritates and enlarges the tiny blood vessels on the surface of your eye (the sclera) causing a “bloodshot” appearance. If vanity doesn’t get your attention, how about blindness? “Because excessive drinking robs the body of some nutrients required to maintain eye health, it can lead to a condition called alcoholic optic neuritis, which impairs eyesight and, over time, can result in blindness,” said Frieling.
Some tips to avoid a “skin hangover” include:
1. Stay hydrated
Aside from giving up booze altogether, Frieling said it is possible to minimize the unwanted effects of alcohol by constantly staying hydrated. “That means drinking a full glass of water for every cocktail you have. Drink even more water before you go to bed to flush the alcohol out of your system so you wake up less dehydrated, puffy and flushed.”
2. Take care of your skin before bed
Taking care of your skin before hitting the sack is also crucial. Frieling advises fully washing your face and then applying a moisturizer, like a hydrating serum before getting into bed. “Sleeping with dirty skin makes it prone to clogged pores and acne.”
3. Prop pillows and use tea
One of the best ways to minimize the eye and face puffiness is to sleep on two pillows, slightly propped up. In the morning, rubbing ice cubes all over your face helps, too. “One of the best ways to deflate eye puffiness and reduce the redness is to place cold tea bags over the eyes. The tannins in the tea help constrict blood vessels,” said Frieling.
4. Cover up what you can’t cure
To camouflage the redness in the face, use a green-tinted primer before applying makeup, which should help neutralize any redness. If you must use foundation, look for a lightweight, moisturizing formula. Avoid powders, as they are often more drying.
5. Consider lasers
When at-home remedies aren’t making much of a difference, there are pricier measures you can take to minimize the effects of alcohol. “Certain laser treatments can reduce redness and spider veins on the face. It’s important to see someone who is well trained to administer the laser treatment,” Frieling said.
6. Choose your booze wisely
If you are going to consume alcohol, know that different alcohols have different effects on the skin, but as a general rule, the clearer, the better. Vodka, gin and tequila leave your system quicker. “If you’re going to drink anything, drink vodka that doesn’t have a grain in it, like potato vodka. It’s a lot clearer and smoother, so it gets in and out of your body quickly,” said Frieling. Most dermatologists agree that although everyone metabolizes alcohol differently if you can remember to drink in moderation and stay hydrated, you can save your skin.
Gretchen Frieling, MD, is a Harvard-trained, board-certified dermatopathologist, with more than 10 years of experience. She has had numerous publications in peer-reviewed medical journals, edited medical journals, written medical textbook chapters, is an educator at the Harvard Medical School and speaker at national medical conferences. She is the founder and CEO of the GFaceMD luxury medical skincare line.