The Many Effects Alcohol Has on Your Skin and Aging Process

Alcohol has many effects on our skin and the aging process. We have all woken up the morning after a few too many and looked in the mirror and wondered why our face just LOOKS so dull and tired? The answer is alcohol! Alcohol can lead to many negative effects on our skin and can take a toll on our youthful appearance. Dehydration, free radicals, inflammation, blood vessel dilation, and vitamin deficiencies all contribute to skin damage and skin aging. Here are a few of the many effects’ alcohol has on our skin and the aging process.


Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which pulls fluid out of your cells. Alcohol also decreases your own production of vasopressin which controls the amount of water you retain. By interfering with the natural vasopressin balance, your body releases more water instead of retaining water. This results in producing greater amounts of urine than if you were simply drinking plain water. Dehydration causes drier skin which can appear dull and show finer lines and wrinkles.

Free Radicals

Alcohol metabolism can produce some pretty nasty byproducts called reactive oxygen species. These reactive oxygen species lead to significant oxidative stress in the body. This stress results in decreased antioxidant production and larger amounts of damaging free radicals. Free radicals are known to float around and destabilize the dermatologic cellular matrix. If that wasn’t enough, alcohol can also result in lower levels of oxygen in the skin and tissues. Not only does alcohol cause skin cellular damage it also results in a reduced ability of the body to repair itself.

Hormonal Changes

Alcohol inhibits testosterone production in males, and increased estrogen production in females.  Another metabolic change is an overall increase in cortisol, which can lead to a rounder appearing face that sometimes is linked with steroid intake.

Blood Vessel Dilation

That warm, flushed face you get when you first start sipping your wine? That is blood vessel dilation courtesy of the alcohol chemical reactions inside your body. With continued alcohol intake, you can have lasting and permanent skin abnormalities such as spider veins and angiomas. These can occur on your face, neck and chest area. Transient flushing can also occur, which generally only lasts for a short time. In addition, skin cancer rates are higher in those with significant alcohol intake.

Vitamin Deficiencies/Hair Loss and Hair Thinning

Consistent alcohol use inhibits absorption of nutrients, which can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Decreased vitamin B can lead to dermatitis, and low levels of vitamin A can contribute to reduced wound healing. Decreases in selenium and low levels of essential vitamins have been strongly linked to hair loss and hair thinning. 

Miscellaneous Skin Changes

Psoriasis, rosacea, acne, and eczema have all been linked to alcohol use.  The reasons for these are variable, but may be linked to immunosuppression from alcohol, vasodilation, and possibly hormonal changes. Waking up from a long night of enjoying cocktails may reveal pimples, bloodshot eyes and wrinkles that you have never seen before.  Alcohol is a chemical and can produce a variety of short-term and long-term skin abnormalities and cosmetic changes.

There are many effects alcohol has on your skin and the aging process. Premature aging and layers of skin damage have all been linked to alcohol intake. Some changes are seen immediately after a few drinks, and others may appear after years of even mild intake. If you want to drink do not forget to hydrate. Drinking one glass of water per every drink is one method to control overall amounts of intake as well as avoiding the dreaded hangover face.

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