Can Drinking Alcohol Give You Bad Skin?


An occasional glass of Scotch or chardonnay at dinner won’t ruin your complexion, but with St. Patrick’s Day — one of the biggest drinking days of the year — just around the corner, it’s got us wondering just how much our drinking habits do affect our skin. Dr. Mitch Chasin, Director of Reflections Center for Skin and Body gave us the lowdown on the immediate repercussions.

What A Few Drinks Do To Your Skin
Not only does alcohol dehydrate your body, but it also dehydrates the skin, causing it to look duller. “Alcohol strips the body of essential vitamins that keep the skin looking vibrant. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases urination. Alcohol also decreases your production of the antidiuretic hormone, which the body uses to absorb water. With an increase in urination and a decreased ability to absorb fluids, you lose more water, electrolytes and minerals.” This causes dry, red, easily irritated skin.

This doesn’t mean you have to choose between a less-than-glowing complexion or a life of teetotaling. Here are a few things you can do to look better the morning after, starting the night before.

Protect Skin Before You Sip
Before you imbibe, prepare your skin with a boost of antioxidants. Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask ($62, detoxifies the skin with pomegranate and acai extract (as well as other antioxidants) fighting free radicals and exfoliating for a rejuvenated complexion. Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with Retinol ($26.95, pumps the skin full of green tea, Vitamin C, and olive oil, all while moisturizing and eliminating redness. FYI: You should apply an antioxidant boosting serum the morning after as well.

Drink Smarter
Be mindful of what you’re drinking. Dr. Chasin warns that drinks with a higher alcohol content, such as vodka or Irish whiskey, dehydrate the skin faster than beer, which has a lower alcohol content. If you do choose spirits, mix them orange or lime juice for the added vitamin C. He also advises staying away from soda, especially diet soda. “A new study from the journal Alcoholism found that mixing alcohol with diet soda results in a higher breath alcohol content than mixing with regular soda, so I would avoid diet drinks in fear of increased intoxication.”

Also, make sure to keep hydrated. “Alternate alcoholic beverages with water. If you slip a glass of water between every drink or two, you will have more water in your system. Drinking water will also slow down the consumption of alcohol, which is helpful to reduce the effects.”

Try A Targeted Nightcap 
Drinking water after a night of consuming alcohol isn’t anything new. However, ACTIVATE, a nutrient-enhanced water with a fresh dose of vitamins, packs a bigger punch. The brand’s Beauty Exotic Berry ($1.99, has an antioxidant blend of tea polyphenols, EGCG, acai extract, vitamins C, A, E, B5 and B12 and electrolytes to provide skin cell support.

Another skin replenisher is Mercy ($12.50 for a pack of four,, a canned drink that can also be consumed just before bed. Dr. Steven Lamm, NYU School of Medicine faculty member and the Director of Men’s Health for NYU Medical Center,  explains the science behind it. “The skin benefits from a glutathione boost. Like all cells in the body, skin cells are protected by glutathione, which neutralizes free radicals. The main free radical produced by alcohol is acetaldehyde. Mercy’s combination of nutrients helps the body create more glutathione, limiting the damage caused by acetaldehyde.” The drinks’ mix of magnesium and potassium helps to replenish the skin’s loss of water and electrolytes.

Cheers! Here’s to feeling a little less guilty about the occasional overindulgence.

Read more: Do Beauty Vitamins Really Work?