Style + Beauty

Is Happy Hour Ruining Your Skin? How to Stop Alcohol from Taking a Toll on Your Looks


We've learned to protect our skin from harsh and damaging sun rays, but what about protecting our skin from the effects of alcohol? 

Even just one drink can leave your skin looking flushed, dry or aged.

“Due to the combination of the dehydration and depletion of vitamins from our body, you wake up with skin that looks pale or grayish, not the youthful, healthy-glow you desire," says beauty expert and author Nina Sutton.   “Because alcohol is dehydrating, the body starts to store fluids, which may not only go to your waistline, but to your face and eyes,” Sutton adds.  According to dermatologist Glenn Kolansky, regular alcohol consumption can lead to more blood vessel formation, which accounts for tiny red spider veins that appear on your face. “Even just one drink can cause existing blood vessels to dilate," Kolansky says.

Aside from giving up booze altogether, experts say it is possible to minimize the unwanted effects of alcohol by constantly staying hydrated.  That means drinking a full glass of water for every cocktail you have.

“Drink even more water before you go to bed to flush the alcohol out of your system so you wake up less dehydrated, puffy and flushed,” advises Kolansky. 

Taking care of your skin before hitting the sack is also crucial. Sutton says to fully wash your face and then apply a moisturizer, like a hydrating serum before getting into bed.  “Sleeping with dirty skin makes it prone to clogged pores and acne.  It also means no skin-care products touched your face the night before.” 

One of the best ways to minimize the eye and face puffiness is to sleep on two pillows, slightly propped up.  In the morning, rubbing ice cubes all over your face helps, too.  “One of the best ways to deflate eye puffiness and reduce the redness is to place cold tea bags over the eyes.  The tannins in the tea help constrict blood vessels,” adds Kolansky.

To camouflage the redness in the face, Sutton suggests using a green-tinted primer before applying makeup, which should help neutralize any redness. And, if you must use foundation, look for a lightweight, moisturizing formula.  Avoid powders, as they are often more drying.  

Of course, there are pricier measures you can take to minimize the effects of alcohol: Dr. Kolansky adds that certain laser treatments can reduce redness and spider veins on the face.

Experts agree that although everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, if you can remember to drink in moderation and stay hydrated, you can save your skin.