If you’re like most people, then you probably like to have a glass or two of wine, or a cold beer once in a while (or more). While there have been lots of conflicting studies about how moderate alcohol affects your health in both positive and negative ways, pretty much everyone agrees that drinking to excess isn’t good for you. It’s hard on your liver, brain, heart, and pancreas. It can even weaken your immune system. What you might not have thought of, however, is how excessive drinking affects your skin. So how bad is drinking in the big picture of skin health? Here’s what you need to know about alcohol and skin.
The Skin is an Indicator of Your Health
If you’re not familiar with the phrase “canary in a coal mine,” it’s used to describe an indicator of a more serious problem. While coal miners used to use canaries to find out if their mines contained toxic carbon monoxide, your skin can be the “canary” in your own body, revealing potential problems. As the largest organ in the body, skin is subject to both internal and external toxins and irritants, which can cause problems ranging from dry, dull skin to rashes, acne, or infections. Many people who drink to excess start noticing problems like frequent breakouts or early signs of aging. Alcohol and skin don’t always get along, especially in heavy drinkers.
Alcohol and Skin
So why does alcohol trigger skin issues? There are a number of reasons. Metabolizing alcohol produces a toxic byproduct, causing both dehydration and inflammation. This is why people who drink water alongside alcoholic beverages feel better the day after than those who don’t. Even if you don’t feel hungover, however, your skin could still be affected.
Because alcohol is a dehydrating substance, it can throw off the overall balance in your skin, causing more frequent breakouts and dull skin. Parched skin has more difficulty fighting off signs of aging, pollution, and sun damage. Antioxidants, which fight off skin-aging free radicals, become less plentiful when alcohol and skin go head-to-head. This is another reason excessive drinking can lead to premature aging.
On top of the effects of dehydration, inflammation from alcohol can enlarge the pores, allowing bacteria to form and cause acne. Inflammation can also make the facial skin flush red by dilating capillaries. While this does typically go away quickly, it can become permanent over time, even causing spider veins in some cases.
What You Can Do
If you’re worried that your drinking habits have started to take a toll on your skin, the first thing to address is your alcohol consumption. Even if you don’t want to cut out alcoholic beverages altogether, you can still make a difference in your skin health by cutting back significantly. You might try a detox—abstaining for a month, then reintroducing alcohol at a more moderate level.
Aside from changing your drinking habits, you may need to give your skin some extra TLC to help it heal. Gentle cosmetic treatments with a plastic surgeon can help renew and rejuvenate your skin, setting you up for a healthy glow in the future. Some great options include:
- Microdermabrasion—a gentle exfoliating procedure that improves skin texture, sun and acne damage
- Chemical peels—a customizable treatment that helps to resurface tired, uneven skin for a brighter complexion
- Laser resurfacing—a popular treatment that can help rejuvenate the skin and provide anti-aging benefits
- BBL—a light therapy treatment that can help refresh the skin and improve small spider veins
After you have rejuvenated your skin with a gentle cosmetic treatment, you may want to think about upping your product game with professional-grade moisturizers, serums, and cleansers. The Iridesse skincare line is a great option, formulated by Dr. Ruth Hillelson to help restore and protect the skin.
Rejuvenating Damaged Skin
If alcohol and skin haven’t been a good mix for you, then you may want to seek help from a skincare specialist to help you get back on track. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Ruth Hillelson and her colleagues are experts in skin health and beauty. Offering a wide range of anti-aging and skin renewing treatments at American Self, the team can help you transform your skin so you can reclaim a radiant glow. Call American Self in Richmond, VA today at 804.290.0060 to schedule your consultation with one of our expert staff members.