For a lot of us, Christmas party season means one thing: a significant increase in booze consumption (and hangovers).
As well as making us feel worse for wear the next day, a lot of *big* nights out can take a toll on our physical health, including that of our skin. Ever noticed you look a lot rougher after a night on the town? Yep, that’s probably down to our good friend alcohol.
Below Dr Clare Morrison of MedExpress explains the five biggest ways alcohol can negatively impact our skin.
‘Alcohol is probably one of the fastest ways to dehydrate your body, skin and mind, and it can have truly detrimental effects that can last days after it is consumed. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it literally forces water out of our bodies, which is why you find yourself with an increased need to visit the toilet while drinking.
‘After alcohol is consumed, the body finds it far more difficult to rehydrate, which – while also terrible for your body and in supporting normal brain function – also impacts your skin. The morning after drinking you’ll notice your skin will feel dry, may flake and fine lines will be much more visible, due to lack of fluid in the skin. Your complexion will look dull, lifeless and lack any sort of healthy glow.’
‘Alcoholic drinks, notably cocktails and wine are incredibly high in sugar, and this will show in your skin if you are consuming more than the recommended amount. The sugar in alcohol can crystalise your skin cells, also known as glycation, which leads to visibly deflated skin, damaged cells and a duller complexion.
‘Sugar has also been shown to trigger the hormone IGF-1, which causes an overproduction of oil in your skin, increasing your chances of breakouts or acne.’
Puffiness and rosacea
Drinking alcohol tends to have an inflammatory effect on our bodies, which in turn can be seen in our skin. When we drink, our insides will inflame and this can cause adverse effects on the skin such as puffiness, breakouts and redness. Rosacea is a condition that is triggered by alcohol consumption – especially red wine – as it’s an inflammatory condition, so when we drink alcohol we’re increasing chances of a flare-up. This could potentially have long-term damage on our skin if not careful.’
‘Alcohol changes the way the liver metabolises hormones. This, together with insulin resistance, can lead to disruptions in sex hormones. In women there may be ‘androgenic’ (male-like) effects, with hirsutism and oily skin. Men who drink heavily may have more female hormones, causing loss of body hair and even gynaecomastia (breast development).
‘Alcohol disrupts the brain’s ‘circadian rhythm’ or body clock, making it hard to sleep at night. As the alcohol wears off, the brain becomes more alert than it was before and frequent trips to the bathroom don’t help. This is why, after the initial drowsiness has worn off, a night of drinking is often followed by a lack of restful sleep, which leads to fatigue, red eyes and sallow skin.’
How to party-proof your skin
That all sounded a bit doom and gloom, so what can we actually do to stop our skin from looking so lacklustre during party season? Fortunately several things, all of which Dr Morrison breaks down below.
Swap out the sweet stuff
‘Even though alcohol is the main culprit, you can try and keep your sugar intake to a minimum by swapping a few things. Rather than opting for sugary cocktails, go for a simple spirit and mixer.’
‘The best way to try and stay hydrated during the night is by having a glass of water between each drink. This may seem a little excessive and perhaps an annoyance but it’ll make all the difference to your skin – plus you won’t feel so bad the next day.’
Eat between drinks
‘Eating small amounts and regularly is a good way to soak up the alcohol so your skin and body aren’t completely wiped of nutrients. If you’re at a party, head to the buffer and try to eat a few bits while you’re drinking.’
‘Take it slow; don’t attend every party, be sure to pick and choose well. If there’s something you really don’t want to attend, then don’t.
Give your skin some TLC
‘In between each event make sure you are keeping up your normal skincare routine; many tend to let their regime slide when they’re busy. Make sure you properly cleanse at night, taking all make-up off. Try to use serums containing vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, as well as overnight moisture masks to give your skin back some moisture.’
This article originally appeared on Marie Claire