How does alcohol affect skin?

Can a glass of beer affect your skin's health?
Š Hamilton

Whether it's a night on the town with friends or a glass of wine with dinner, alcohol plays a role in the lives of many people. Studies in recent years have suggested that moderate consumption of certain types of alcohol is beneficial for heart health and cancer prevention [Mayo Clinic]. But can a glass of beer or a mixed drink affect your skin?

The water you drink serves as a type of internal moisturizer for your skin. Staying properly hydrated can smooth out wrinkles, causing your skin to appear brighter and younger [source: Poirot]. Alcohol, along with caffeinated drinks like coffee and soda, has the opposite effect. A drink will dehydrate you and deplete vital skin nutrients, making your skin appear dull. Doctors have also found that those who drink heavily tend to have less healthy diets, which can deprive the skin of necessary nutrients that keep it looking healthy and young [source: Hoffman].


Drinking alcohol also causes facial blood vessels to dilate, and repeated overindulgence can cause the vessels to dilate permanently, causing red, spidery veins [source: Freedman]. And if you have a pre-existing skin condition, excessive alcohol use can worsen it. Alcohol consumption may exacerbate flare-ups of rosacea and psoriasis, and dermatologists recommend minimizing your intake to avoid these issues [source: American Academy of Dermatology].

If you drink, moderate alcohol consumption is the best way to avoid any negative side effects. And after a night on the town, water will help to counteract the dehydration that comes with drinking alcohol. Avoid the greasy foods often associated with hangover cures and replace them with healthier, nutrient-rich foods to reverse some of the negative effects of a night out.

Being smart about your choices can help your skin look youthful and fresh. See the links on the next page for more information.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Minimize Flare-ups." (Aug. 11, 2009)
  • Freedman, Cheryl. "How to keep your skin looking great." Net Doctor. May 30, 2007. (Aug. 11, 2009)
  • Hoffman, Matthew. "It's Not Your Mother's Skin--Or is it?" WebMD. Jan. 31, 2008. (Aug. 11, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Alcohol use: Why moderation is key." Aug. 23, 2008. (Aug. 11, 2009)
  • Poirot, Lissa. "A Wrinkle in Time: Preventing Damage to Aging Skin." Feb. 18, 2009. (Aug. 11, 2009)