Following on from Skin Sins: Caffeine, I’m talking about another thing that’s difficult to ditch. Whether your choice of tipple is tequila, a classic pint of the black stuff or prosecco, it’s damaging your skin. Part of me feels guilty for potentially ruining the Nerd Herd’s enjoyment of a drink, but alcohol has so many negative effects on the skin that it’s impossible for me not to skinform you all about it.
Why is alcohol one of the skin sins?
- Pure and simple, it dehydrates your skin, just like caffeine. Alcohol is a diuretic and in this, it sucks the fluid out of your skin. After a night out, your skin will be zapped of all of its usual plumpness and freshness.
- It inflames your skin. Alcohol inflames tissue, leading to systemic inflammation and thus skin reaction AKA flushing of the skin. If you’ve ever noticed the Rudolph effect in the bathroom mirror of the pub on Friday night, now you know the culprit!
- Alcohol can trigger rosacea. A common misconception is that alcohol actually causes rosacea, but this is a skin myth (BUSTED!!!). So although you’re not in danger of developing rosacea due to a few cold ones with the gang, if you’re already a sufferer, alcohol can worsen the symptoms and bring on a flare-up.
- It causes “drinkles” AKA drink wrinkles. As alcohol dehydrates the skin, it can lead to lines and wrinkles and make the skin seem older than its years.
I can’t entirely blame alcohol on this one, but if you’ve been out on the lash, it becomes a lot more likely for you to go to bed without removing your makeup. There is no science behind this one, just common sense. When you sleep in your makeup, you’re asking for congestion, blackheads and whiteheads. Even if you’re religious with your skincare routine during the week, it’ll take a while for your skin to recover from this blasphemy.
Alcohol also triggers a hormone called norepinephrine (I think she went to school with me..). Norepinephrine, or noradrenaline, increases excitement or stress. During sleep, your levels of norepinephrine are supposed to be at their lowest, as the hormone’s purpose is to make us alert. Logically, if your levels of norepinephrine rise, you won’t be able to get the same 8 hours of Zzzzz’s that you usually get and, as you should know by now, you need sleep to stay looking fresh and puff-free.
Alcohol in skincare
When it comes to the alcohol that you apply rather than the alcohol that you imbibe, it depends on which type of alcohol it is. Skin-unfriendly alcohols such as ethanol, methanol and isopropyl alcohol can dry the skin out and sensitise it. They’re used in products to help them dry faster onto the skin, lighten the texture and to preserve them. This type of alcohol can sensitise the skin, dehydrate it and lead to breakouts too.
However, not all alcohol in skincare is created equal. Fatty alcohols are used as emulsifiers so that the water and oil in the products don’t separate and can actually be beneficial to the skin, helping it to keep in moisture. Examples of these would be stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol or cetearyl alcohol.
How do I stop skin sinning in regards to alcohol?
This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth: you need to cut down on your alcohol intake (or cut it out altogether if you can). Stick to the recommended allowance of 11 standard units spread out for the females and 17 standard units spread out for the males, with at the very least 2-3 alcohol free days, according to Alcohol Action Ireland’s website.
It’s generally thought that transparency is best for your skin when it comes to liquors – vodka, gin and tequila leave your system a little bit faster and because of this could be less harmful to your skin.
Skip after work happy hour if it means you’re going to be on cocktails… Unfortunately, although they are tasty, fruity and refreshing, they are also chockfull of sugar in the form of syrups and juices. I can justify recommending a glass of red wine because it contains flavonoids which are rich in antioxidants and can help you glow!
And Mammy is always right, the key to counter the effects of your (recommended) alcohol intake is water, water, water, water, water. Every second drink should be a water, ideally – this is also a great money saving technique.
For those looking for further skin sin reading, read Skin Sins: Caffeine!