As anyone who’s spent a night out drinking knows, alcohol certainly tastes (and feels) better in the moment than it looks the next day. In addition to feeling physically ill, you might notice puffy eyes, red cheeks, and all-around dull skin.
“Alcohol wreaks havoc very quickly on our liver which is responsible for our daily detoxification process and that makes us all look happy and glowing,” says celebrity aesthetician Geri G, who counts Christina Hendricks and Ru Paul among her clients. “When alcohol steps into the picture, it puts the breaks on detox and puts toxic waste into our system, resulting in the body looking and feeling toxic from the inside out.”
Welp, that sure puts a damper on those after-dinner drinks we were so looking forward to. So you can order smarter at the bar, here’s how your favorite libation can affect your looks.
According to makeup artist Molly Leahy, people with sensitive skin and conditions like rosacea should stay far away from red wine since it contains tannins and can cause irritation and flushing. While she recommends white wine, sipping Chardonnay can still cause redness due to its high sugar content.
Beer is the worst thing to drink for your face, Geri G says. “Most beers are made from grain which is gluten. Gluten causes puffiness everywhere, raises your blood sugar which makes you crave more sugar, destroys cells faster, and uses up a lot of Vitamin B,” she explains. The result? Dull looking skin that can also stay puffy for days because of the way beer messes up your digestion, possibly causing bacterial growth…which in turn can cause breakouts and skin irritation. Scary.
Hard liquors like vodka, tequila, scotch, and brandy, with their higher alcohol content can cause dehydration because of their diuretic properties. “[Drinking them] can lead to depletion of essential nutrients. The skin can look dry and haggard,” says Dr. Dimitry Rabkin, founder and Medical Director of Esthetica MD. “Hard liquor can also cause skin redness by dilating blood vessels, causing spider veins and broken capillaries, particularly around nose and cheeks area.”
Leahy says that it’s better to choose clear liquors (vodka, gin, tequila) over dark liquors (whiskey, rum), when it comes to your skin. “While all alcohol can have damaging effects on your skin, dark liquors contain congeners, which are impurities, and extra fermentation,” she explains. “Congeners are mainly responsible for the taste and smell of spirits and are produced during the fermentation process. The more congeners you consume, the worse your skin will look the next day. While clear liquors do contain impurities, dark liquors contain many more.”
It all comes down to sugar content when you’re drinking cosmopolitans, mojitos, and other beloved cocktails. “Sugary mixers may be tasty, but they can ultimately lead to bad breakouts,” explains beauty expert Julie Ricevuto of YouBeauty.com. “Mixers such as cranberry juice, orange juice and sodas increase your insulin levels, leading to inflammation throughout the body.” Rabkin agrees, noting that drinking too much sugar can also lead to accelerated skin aging and acne.
But it’s not just sugar that puts your skin at risk—it’s also salt (from drinks like margaritas and bloody marys.) “Sugar and salt are both horrible for your skin and can add on the pounds and cause unwanted bloating,” Leahy says. “To help make your cocktails a little less threatening, skip the sugared or salted rim and have your drink on the rocks to reduce calories.”