Liquor Bane: What Drinking Does to Your Skin


Text by: Lian Nami Buan

Drunk texts and calls or the deadly hangover in the morning aren’t the only downsides to drinking. There is something worse that may eventually be irreparable: damage to skin.

Dehydrated skin
The most basic explanation to this is that all kinds of alcohol dehydrate the skin. Drinking alcohol limits the production of vasopressin, which makes it difficult for your kidneys to remove excess water from your system. This will result to more water in your bladder, instead of your organs. And since your skin is your largest organ, the effect of dehydration is significant.

Dry skin wrinkles easily, which contributes to an older-looking face.

To put it bluntly, alcohol is purely bad news to the body. Not only does it offer no nutritional value, it also depletes your body of healthy nutriegirlnts. It negatively affects cell renewal and turnover as it takes away Vitamin A, B3 and C that are essential to those processes.
That’s why it is essential for drinkers to always drink water – it not only helps keep drunkenness at bay, it also counters the effects of alchohol on the body.

The ugly truth
Dr. David Colbert of the New York Dermatology Group explained to Huffington Post that alcohol is a kind of hepatotoxin, a chemical that targets the cells that detoxifies your body and later, damages your liver. And if alcohol contains a toxin that damages the liver, its effect on the skin is comparable to the havoc a liver disease wreaks on the body. Simply put, drinkers will end up looking a lot like liver disease patients: “sallow, pasty, cold and their pores are huge.”
Research has also shown that drinking affects your body’s hormone levels, resulting to excess oil secretion. Not only does it make your face more oily, it also makes it more prone to break outs.
The depletion of Vitamin C also makes your skin cells less able to recover quickly after a bruise. And for a heavy drinker, the discoloration of a bruise is more likely. So if you enjoy a couple of social bottles of beer and the occasional glasses of wine, accept the bluish marks that will stay around longer if and when you injure yourself.

Skin diseases
Unfortunately for people who like their liquor, there are worse threats to health than just looking old and wrinkled. Alcohol has also shown to increase the chances of some skin diseases.
The first and scariest: skin cancer. According to experts, alcohol consumption impairs the immune system, which contributes to the likeliness of developing skin cancer. The caveat: confounding factors to alchol are smoking and sun exposure.

But there are some studies that suggest sun exposure is also related to heavy drinking. It’s been said that because alcohol lowers your inhibition, it makes you less cautious of the sun. Parched skin is also more susceptible to skin damage.

People with psoriasis are not advised to take up drinking, too. Alcohol increases psoriasis flares and it can reduce the effectiveness of some psoriasis medications.

It’s just not a lovely glow

Do you think that the pinkish or reddish patches on your skin after drinking adds to your glow? It doesn’t. Like all things, there is more than meets the eye. And in your drinking case, you may be oblivious to a developing skin disease.

The red spots in your face say something that you can’t see. Inside your face’s skin, your blood vessels are starting to dilate, sometimes, burst, leaving your capillaries broken. Because of this, more blood flows through our skin and if this is sustained over a number of years, small peripheral vains may be permanently enlarged, which can result to permanent skin damage.

This condition also leaves your face puffy. It’s because enlarged blood vessels cause fluid leakage, albeit very mild. And what makes this worse is when we lie flat when we sleep – fluid then tends to accumulate around eyelids and cheeks, causing unnecessary puffiness.

We Asians are at a greater risk for this. We have been shown to have a mutation that metabolizes alcohol, therefore increasing the flushing even with minimal consumption.

And don’t think this is just skin deep. The effects of alcohol on our blood vessels, if sustained, can lead to liver damage.

Which drinks to avoid
This is not to say you have to give up drinking completely. You just have to do it in moderation. Some types of drinks also have specific effects so you’ll know which ones to avoid, depending on existing conditions.

  • Clear Shots (Vodka, Gin, Tequila)
    Because clear shots have no extra sugar and salt, vodka, tequila and gin make for the best drinks.
  • Dark Shots (Rum, Whiskey, Tequila)
    Straight rum and whiskey don’t have any additional ingredient that may damage skin, per se. But they do contain an additional amount of chemicals that worsen the hangover. And the worse the hangover, the worse you look the next morning.
  • Mojitos and other sweet-mixed drinks
    Sugar, sugar and more sugar. Mojitos and other drinks mixed with cola, orange juice and other sweet drinks are loaded with sugar. Sugar spikes your insulin levels which causes acne. Dr. Colbert also noted that these drinks give you a sugar makeover on top of your regular hangover, which makes your skin sallow.
  • Margaritas
    It’s the salt that does the evil. Salt contributes to bloating. However, experts do say that the bloating is only temporary.
  • Beer
    Although beer has salt, it doesn’t contain much of it to be toxic. Moreover, experts have noted beer actually contains antioxidants. Plus, as we all know, beer has the lowest alcohol content among all types of liquor.
  • White Wine
    White wine has been observed to cause swollen skin and bloating. And if you’re looking for redeeming factors such as being good for the heart, that’s just red wine and not white.
  • Red Wine
    Red Wine, generally, can be good for you. But its benefits don’t extend to people with skin issues like rosacea. Red wine increases rosacea flair, more significantly than white wine does. Red wine has also been shown to release histamine levels in some people, resulting to flushing.

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