The Damaging Effects of Alcohol on your Skin

It’s that time of year again where we ditch the booze for a month in order to detox, lose weight AND raise money for charity. Did you know that going teetotal for a month doesn’t just benefit your health but also your skin?

In the aim of perfect skin, we purchase countless serums and creams, book elaborate facials, and chug water, yet there’s a simple solution that has been staring us in the face all this time: giving up (or cutting back on) alcohol!

So, what exactly are the effects of alcohol on skin? Brace yourselves, because this isn't pretty...

1. Dehydration

Alcohol is incredibly dehydrating as it forces water out of our bodies so it actually takes all the fluid out of the skin it also makes it more difficult to rehydrate after drinking so you will be left with dry, flaky skin and your fine lines and wrinkles will be more visible thanks to the lack of fluid in your skin.

2. Puffiness

Drinking alcohol causes the insides of our bodies to become inflamed which will quickly show on our skin in the form of redness, puffiness and breakouts. Alcohol inflames the tissue, and systemic inflammation to the skin caused by alcohol creates a histamine reaction—that creates the redness and flushing of the skin. If you drink alcohol long term then you can develop rosacea which is a chronic inflammatory skin condition.

3. Breakouts

Alcoholic drinks are often high in sugar (white wine and cocktails are the devils for high sugar content). If you're overindulging in booze too often this will instantly show up in breakouts on your skin. Too much sugar also leads to less plump skin and a duller complexion.

4. Hormone disruption

Too much sugar doesn’t just lead to breakouts but also hormonal disruption. Sugar in alcohol can initiate an insulin response and elevated insulin can have a negative effect on thyroid and sex hormones, causing hormonal imbalance and the in turn lead to skin issues.

5. Gut disturbance

Did you know your gut is one of the most important functions for a healthy immune system? Alcohol can deplete healthy levels of the important bacteria that live in our gut. The gut is vital in managing inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema so you will want to take care of it!

How quickly does alcohol affect your skin?

Short term effects of alcohol can be seen immediately. Within 24 hours of drinking you will notice your skin will appear dull, dry and lined and if you suffer from acne or rosacea you will see a flare up in these conditions.

How can we rehydrate the skin after drinking too much alcohol?

The good thing is that your skin, like any other organ, has the ability to regenerate. The body has a fabulous rate of rehydration. However, if you've been hitting it hard for an extended period (hello Christmas!) then you need to give your body a helping hand and incorporate retinols (vitamin A) in your skincare to encourage the cell regeneration process which you've inhibited by drinking alcohol.

IV vitamin drips are also a great way to hydrate the body. Hydration IV injects the fluids directly into your bloodstream so your body can deliver the fluids where you need them most.

It’s a faster, more efficient way to hydrate your body. At Elegant Clinic we offer a range of IV Vitamin Therapies which boost your immune system, raise your energy levels, enhances your skin, cleanses your blood of toxins AND balances hormones.

We also offer a glutathione booster shot which is the master antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in each cell. It slows down the ageing process, increases energy, improves the skin and detoxifies the liver.

Now if you don’t want to give up alcohol all together then we have found out what the best and worst alcoholic drinks are for your skin…

Different alcohols have different effects on the skin, but as a general rule, the clearer, the better: vodka, gin, and tequila get out of your system quicker.

Red wine

It make be the perfect accompaniment to some cheese is a glass of red vino, however this tipple will cause havoc to your skin. Alcohol is a vasodilator, meaning it promotes the opening of blood vessels in the skin, which is how it leads to increased redness. Red wine is one of the worst culprits, as it’s also a histamine releaser which again promotes redness and flushing.


We spoke about the dangers of sugar on the skin earlier but whether you’re a Pornstar Martini girl or a Margarita kinda lady unfortunately cocktails are super high in sugar. Sugar anywhere in the diet, along with other excessive carbs, leads to systemic inflammation, which can lead to increased skin ageing. The less sugar you take in with your alcohol, the better for your long-term wrinkle risk. Sugar also causes acne by spiking your insulin levels, causing inflammation throughout the body.


Shockingly Beer is one of the better drinks to opt for if you are out on the town with your pals. Beer contains antioxidants and other anti-ageing benefits! It also has less alcohol in it than spirits and people tend to drink it slower so it will have a less dehydrating effect than other more potent forms. So I think we can all ‘cheers to that’.

Vodka and Gin

Gin and vodka are both free of congeners (so less likely to produce the symptoms of a hangover). They are also relatively low in sugar and salt, provided you go for diet tonic, so all in all these spirits are less unkind to the skin than their cocktail counterparts. You can also dose up your gin or vodka with some lemons and cucumbers to add some extra nutrients into your drink! ‘GIN, GIN!'

And don’t forget the key to glowing skin is hydration so a tip we live by is after every alcoholic drink have a glass of water to help you stay as hydrated as possible… which won’t just help your skin repair but will reduce the hangover!

Have a question? Contact us by completing our online form.

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About the author

Shikha Rishi

Shikha is a highly experienced aesthetics practitioner, pharmacist and medical professional. After training for a number of years at the world-renowned Harley Street, London and SkinViva, Manchester, Shikha is passionate about delivering top-quality results in every treatment.

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