What Dermatologists Want You To Know About The Aging Effects Of Alcohol
We all know drinking can be fun every once in a while. It helps you loosen up, wind down and feel relaxed. Sure, grabbing a drink with friends, dates, co-workers, etc. sounds harmless enough.
Sometimes, it's hard to turn down a glass of wine or a cocktail after a really long day at work. When you're one, two or even three drinks in, you're probably not thinking about anything other than the big hangover you'll inevitably have in the morning. As much as we all understand the consequences of drinking alcohol, it's easy to get caught up in the fun or just not bother to think about the negative effects down the line.
We've all been guilty of this from time to time.
According to A Plus, Millennials consumed 159.6 million cases of wine in 2015. Not only is that 42 percent of all the wine consumed in the US last year, it's also more than any other generation. Around 66 percent of people in the US say they consume just over four alcoholic drinks per week.
What does a skin doctor have to say about alcohol consumption for your skin?
Drinking alcohol is a big part of the American culture. Dr. Alan J. Parks, board-certified dermatologist and the founder of DermWarehouse, advises young Millennials to think about their future selves before hitting the bar:
Alcohol dehydrates your skin. It is a hepatotoxin, which is a toxic chemical that damages the liver. This is not good for you skin, especially if you drink alcohol in excess. Even though your friends are drinking and it may be a big part of your social life, it can have negative long-term ramifications on your body and skin.
Think about your future self before taking that next shot. Think about yourself after a night of drinking. Most likely, first you wake up and feel like if you don't immediately chug a huge glass of water, you might die.
Then you look in the mirror, and you probably don't love what you see. Your eyes are bloodshot, your skin looks dull and dry and you're bloated. It's not a pretty sight, and most likely, it's not just because you had a late night out.
Chances are, it's because of what you were drinking during that late night out. Luckily, the skin can recover pretty quickly from a night on the town (though this slows down significantly as you age). After taking a few days off, you'll likely see your skin return to normal. You can, however, still see many long-term effects from heavy drinking.
According to Dr. Parks,
In a weird way, drinking alcohol and tanning are comparable. If you go tanning once or twice in your teens, you aren't going to see wrinkling and skin deterioration the very next day. If you continue to go tanning on a consistent basis and look in the mirror when you're in your mid 30s, your skin will looked aged and unhealthy. This will be especially true compared to your friends who stayed out of the sun and kept their skin safe by taking proactive measures. The same can be said for alcohol consumption. Over the years, the negative consequences will catch up to your skin and your body.
There will always be that friend of yours who has amazing genetics, and the alcohol consumption doesn't catch up with him or her. This is not the case for most people, though.
First and most importantly, drinking dehydrates every part of your body, including your skin. One of the key elements in keeping your skin looking young and healthy is keeping it hydrated. When you drink, all that hydration is sucked out of your skin.
In the short term, you'll wake up looking like you haven't moisturized in days. In the long term, you'll see that this ages your skin much more rapidly than if you'd skipped the drinks. You'll have more wrinkles, your skin will look dull and you'll lose that youthful firmness.
Not only will drinking dehydrate your body, but it will also cause inflammation, causing your face to look puffy. It also increases blood flow so while you're drinking, so your face might look red or flushed. In the worst-case scenarios, the increase of blood flow can cause the tiny blood vessels close to your skin's outer layer to burst, giving you permanent spider veins on your face.
For those with rosacea, which is a skin disease that causes people to blush or flush more easily, drinking can be especially dangerous. Red wine, while the healthiest drink choice (because of the antioxidants red wine provides, having a glass a day can actually aid in anti-aging), is the worst for redness. Those with rosacea should stay away.
What are the best and worse types of alcohol for my skin?
If you do like to treat yourself to a drink every now and again (or maybe more often), make sure to choose your drinks wisely, as there are definitely options that are better than others. The best drink choice is a straight shot of clear alcohol (think vodka or gin), as this type of drink will have the least amount of artificial additives and congeners.
Not only will these be the best for you in terms of a hangover (or lack of), they will also cause the least amount of damage to your skin. Sugary drinks (like mojitos) and salty drinks (like margaritas) are the worst. Sugar will lead to inflammation, cell damage, premature aging and excess oil production, which can cause acne.
Salt is responsible for bloating and under eye bags. If you are drinking, make sure to also heed that advice people's moms give them, and make sure to drink water and have something to eat as well.
While drinking alcohol can definitely be fun and even relaxing, try to think about whether both the short- and long-term effects are worth it. When deciding whether or not to head to the bar for that next drink, just imagine what it will be like looking in the mirror the next morning. (Never a fun sight.) Also, try to imagine how this can affect your skin 10 or 20 years down the road.