Is Alcohol Bad for Your Skin?

Alcohol to wind down might sound like a wonderful idea but don’t forget to go through with your skincare routine before you get to bed because that alcohol that you might be downing will harm your skin in the long run.

Happy hours, especially after a long week, is what most millennials would consider ideal, and it probably would be if it didn’t come with a plethora of side effects that will essentially affect your health.

These side effects aren’t restricted to the internal functioning of your body; they can also affect the external appearance, mainly referring to your skin. So can alcohol age your skin? Yes, alcohol consumption can affect your skin’s appearance and even result in  aging your skin. It can dehydrate, inflame, and, over time, age and wrinkle your skin. Due to dehydration, your skin is deprived of moisture and nutrients, and this is one of the leading causes of skin aging caused due to alcohol consumption.

Alcohol and Aging: Does Alcohol Affect Your Skin

Alcohol consumption is relatively common in this time and age. However, regular consumption can affect your appearance. If you are a regular drinker, chances are you might be missing out on the sleep your body requires to function correctly. A lack of sleep means that you might develop dark circles, eye bags, and puffy skin. 

Alcohol is chemically known by the name ethanol. The body breaks down ethanol in various steps; the enzymes break it down to form other compounds that the body can easily process, and some of these compounds have harmful effects on the body. With regards to the skin, it can cause dullness, enlarged pores, blotchiness, increased redness, and reduced elasticity [1].

As discussed, alcohol can be harmful to your skin, but in what ways is something we haven’t gone over yet. So what does alcohol do to your face and skin, well it affects them in three particular ways,


Alcohol is known to dehydrate the skin and deprive it of the nutrients and moisture it needs to look radiant, supple, and youthful. Since alcohol is a diuretic, it is known to actively draw water from the skin and the body as a whole. This results in your body’s water level dropping drastically and thus making the skin look wrinkled, dry, and saggy.

The dehydration caused due to alcohol can cause the pores on your skin to dilute, increasing the number of blackheads and whiteheads. If you fail to treat this effectively, it can cause acne and rosacea, and scarring in the long term [2].


Alcohol consumption can cause inflammation within the skin, which results in redness and flushing due to its vasodilatory effect, which essentially means that it opens up the blood vessels and increases the blood flow above the normal levels.

Certain alcohol drinks are high in sugar, which can cause inflammation and trigger the hormone IGF- 1 (Insulin-like growth factor 1), a significant growth hormone. This can cause an overproduction of oil in your skin and thus increase your chances of breakouts or acne. Rosacea, fluid retention, and puffiness across the face are other common effects of inflammation due to alcohol consumption [3].

You might however ask, “Why does my skin look good after drinking alcohol?” This is mostly due to the inflammation, or the initial phase when your face looks flushed.

Weakened Immune System

Alcohol consumption can cause adverse effects on your immune system. This can mean harmful effects to the immune functioning of specific organs, like the lungs or the overall functioning of the immune system. Either way, a weakened immune system is harmful to the skin and its functioning. 

When your immune system is compromised due to the consumption of alcohol, it can spell disaster for your skin which will now be vulnerable to inflammation, hypersensitive, and prone to other problems [4]

Your skin won’t heal as efficiently, you’ll be more prone to bacterial infections, and your skin will start breaking out more regularly. Although there isn’t much research regarding the effects of alcohol on the immune functioning of the skin, if it can prove to be harmful to your immunity as a whole, chances are it might affect your skin as well.

How To Minimize The Effects Of Alcohol On Your Skin

Alcohol can undeniably affect your skin, and although stopping altogether would be the best way to control the effects it can have on your skin, there are a few other options that can aid with damage control.

Stay hydrated

Since alcohol can be extremely dehydrating, countering it with water to stay hydrated is one of the highly suggested methods to keep on top of your game regarding skincare. The best way to treat dehydrated skin is from within, and water is your best option. Drink water before going to bed and the morning after a night of drinking. Also, consider drinking water between your drinks. Since your liver goes into overdrive and flushes out excess liquids as your drink, it is crucial to keep rehydrating.

Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly can counter the effects of alcohol on your skin by improving blood flow throughout your body but, more importantly, to your skin. This improved blood flow to the skin can help its appearance by making it look healthy, silky, and plump. A good workout can also help clear your pores.

Include supplements in your diet

Alcohol consumption can block cell regeneration and cell turnover, and taking supplements like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, to name a few, can help counter this effect. Apart from regeneration, supplements can also help the nutrients reach your skin directly and counteract the damage that alcohol consumption could’ve caused. Supplements dedicated to the skin can also help repair any skin damages efficiently.

Practice regular skincare before bed

An efficient skincare routine before bed is essential, regardless of whether you’ve been drinking or not. However, if you have been drinking, using skincare products that are calming and made up of ultra-nourishing ingredients and antioxidants will prove beneficial. The right products can draw moisture from the air into your skin to replenish the cell’s water levels and soothe and hydrate your skin layer. Products that can calm your skin will help with redness and inflammation.

Sleep with an extra pillow

Alcohol consumption can cause puffiness and result in eye bags and dark circles. If your head is lying flat, fluids tend to pool in the under-eye area; the elevation from two pillows can help reduce fluid retention and puffiness across the facial tissues and the eyes in particular.

On a side note, a few extra hours of sleep can also be highly beneficial to your skin and health in general. When you get a good night’s sleep, your skin and body can recharge and work more efficiently, resulting in you waking up looking and feeling refreshed.

Alcoholic Drinks That Are Extremely Harmful To Your Skin

Alcohol and any alcoholic drink, in general, are incredibly harmful to both your skin and body; however, certain drinks are worse for your skin than others. So does wine age your skin?

Red wine

Since red wine is unfiltered, the liver and kidneys have to work extra hard to process it. It is also the most likely type of alcohol to cause flushing, redness, and blotchy skin. This can be especially harmful to someone who might have rosacea.

White Wine

White wine is also high in sugar and can cause a breakdown of collagen and elastin. It can also result in your skin looking dull, sallow, and puffy.

This is primarily dependent on the amount of alcohol present in your drink. The higher the alcohol content, the worse the impact on the skin.

Certain other drinks that are not suited for your skincare,

Dark spirits

Spirits like whiskey, scotch, brandy, cognac, and dark rum contain congeners, chemicals such as tanning and methanol that are created during the fermentation process. They also have a high alcohol content and can have a much harmful effect on your skin


Cocktails are high in sugar, and this can cause inflammation, cell damage, and acne. It can also cause glycation, a process where sugar molecules attach themselves to proteins, including collagen, and break them down. Glycation causes a loss of elastin which essentially means more wrinkles. The excess sugar can also leave your skin looking dull and puffy.

You could replace these certain alcoholic drinks with beer and clear spirits like vodka, gin, tequila, white rum, and sake. Although not ideal, they are not as harmful as the ones mentioned above with reference to skin health.

Skin Changes You Might Notice Once You Stop Consuming Alcohol

Since our body is an amazing regenerator, the effects of alcohol on your skin can be reversed if consumption is cut down or inhibited. However, it is important to act in good time and stay dedicated to putting time and effort into your daily lifestyle and skincare regimen.

So, is drinking alcohol bad for the skin? Yes, but the effects can be reversed.

Here are some changes you might notice after you stop the consumption of alcohol

  • Hydrated, plumper skin
  • Brighter skin
  • Reduction in excessive redness
  • Even skin tone
  • Reduction in flare-ups (acne and rosacea)
  • Fewer wrinkles
  • Smaller pores
  • Improvement in acne
  • Puffiness might subside


Can you reverse skin aging from alcohol?

Yes, if you act in good time, you can reverse the effects on your skin. However, it is essential to make strict changes to your daily lifestyle and stick to your skincare regimen. With time, your skin will start looking younger again.

Does not drinking alcohol make you look younger?

Drinking alcohol can make you look older, but not drinking alcohol will not make you look younger. If anything, not drinking alcohol might keep your skin looking healthy. You will have to stick to a strict skincare regimen and care for your skin internally to look younger.

Will my skin improve if I stop drinking?

Yes, your skin will improve if you stop drinking. Since our body is a fantastic regenerator, the adverse effects of alcohol on your skin can be reversed. Once you stop drinking, your skin will start to look healthier, plumper, and with little to no texture; of course, this also majorly depends on how you care for your skin.

Why does alcohol make you look older?

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it actively draws water from not just the skin but the body as a whole. With that said, it can dry the skin through dehydration. During its breakdown process, it causes inflammation; both dehydration and inflammation can damage the skin and make you look older.

Wrapping Up

Alcohol is one of those drinks that can have various effects on your mood; however, it does have consistent harmful effects on your body, both internally and externally. It can affect your immunity, stability, cell regeneration, and organ functioning.

It can also affect your skin and its appearance. It can make you look older and result in your skin developing conditions like rosacea and acne. Although alcohol, in general, is harmful to your body, certain drinks are worse than others. Keeping that in mind and making sure you drink in moderation might help you minimize the effects of alcohol on your skin. If the damage is done and you want to go back to having healthy-looking skin, you can do so by avoiding all forms of alcohol altogether.


  1. Goodman, Greg D et al. “Impact of Smoking and Alcohol Use on Facial Aging in Women: Results of a Large Multinational, Multiracial, Cross-sectional Survey.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 12,8 (2019): 28-39.
  2. nidirect government services. “How alcohol affects your health | nidirect.” NI Direct.
  3. Farkas, A, and L Kemény. “Alcohol, liver, systemic inflammation and skin: a focus on patients with psoriasis.” Skin pharmacology and physiology vol. 26,3 (2013): 119-26.
  4. Sarkar, Dipak et al. “Alcohol and the Immune System.” Alcohol Research : Current Reviews vol. 37,2 (2015): 153–155.
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