Oh. Turns out certain boozy drinks age your skin way faster. Here's what to avoid.

We're all out here just sassing around trying to nab ourselves good skin, hey? We slap on 213 serums a day, spend our hard-earned pennies on pricey facials and chug down ridiculous amounts of water in pursuit of THAT kinda skin. (Glowy! Plump! Juicy! Never spotty!).

Yet, there's one sneaky little a-hole that's messing things up for us: alcohol.

Watch: Just on that... here are the five best foods to cure a hangover. Post continues below.

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Like, we all knew it wasn't a real goer for our overall health - but our skin, too? Sheesh.

To suss out what we need to know before coming out of 2020 looking decrepit as hell, we spoke to dermatologist Dr Katherine Armour from Bespoke Skin Technology. 

Now, just to be clear - we all know it's been a ROUGH year. So no shade thrown, yeah? 

Image: Giphy


"I think that we’re all feeling a little sensitive about these effects after living under COVID-19 restrictions. So, in no way am I judging anyone. I am fairly partial to a glass or two of champagne or rose myself," said Dr Armour.

"However, unfortunately, there are a myriad of effects that alcohol consumption can have on the skin. And, it doesn’t hurt to have these in mind.  As with all good things in life – all things in moderation is the key!"

What does alcohol do to your skin?

We're not going to beat around the bush here: alcohol can make you look way older than you actually are.


Armour said alcohol contributes to ageing through several ways. Most importantly, through something called glycation of skin proteins (hello, we're now scientists). This basically happens when glucose sticks to important plumping fibres in our skin (collagen and elastin), and causes them to clump and stiffen. Not good. 

This process is called Advanced Glycosylation End Products (AGEs), and it's a real b**ch.

"This destroys the supporting and plumping layer of our skin which collagen and elastin crucially contribute to. Unfortunately, high sugar alcohols (read: yummy dessert wine, champagne, and sugary cocktails) and sugary foods such as chocolate, wreak havoc here by speeding up the development of AGEs." 

How sad is that!

"Sad, but true," confirms Dr Armour.

Image: Getty


Together with speeding up AGEs, Dr Armour said alcohol also results in something called oxidative stress. "Whilst so many of us enjoy a glass (or three!) of wine to decrease our stress levels, regular alcohol consumption also causes oxidative stress within our skin’s cells, driving our cells to age faster."

Yep, it's not looking good.

Listen to our podcast You Beauty, where Leigh and Kelly talk about the easiest way to stop your skin from ageing. Post continues below.

To top things off, there's also the whole dehydration thing - alcohol actually takes all the fluid out of your skin. 

"The high sugar alcohol content in many types of alcohol, as well as the diuretic effects, leads to dehydration of our whole body, including our skin. Pumping headache anyone? So, the morning after a big night out, or a weekend of too many sugary drinks and not enough sleep, will see us suffering from a dull, sallow complexion," said Dr Armour.

It's like... she knows us?

"Our skin will appear less plump, and wrinkles will temporarily be more prominent. So, not only will matching each glass of wine with a glass of water help ward off that hangover, it’ll help to prevent you looking haggard the next day!"

That's not all though...

Ever noticed your skin is looking a little flushed after a few wines? Yeah? Same. Happens to us, too.

"When it comes to specific effects of alcohol on the skin in terms of inflammation, we should consider that alcohol leads to dilatation of blood vessels, which contributes to redness and flushing. So, certain types of alcohol can flare inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea and acne," explains Dr Armour.

"I can’t tell you how many of my patients who suffer from acne report breakouts after a 'big night out'. It’s 'a thing.' Inflammation can also lead to general puffiness. If you've experienced that bloated, puffy feeling the day after one or two too many – that’s inflammation!"

Yep, sounds familiar.


"If you suffer from an inflammatory skin condition such as rosacea, acne, psoriasis or eczema, seek help from your general practitioner or dermatologist if things are getting out of control for you."

But how often do you have to be drinking to cause this kind of damage?

Alright, this is one of the main things we wanna know. Like, if we're just drinking casually on a Friday or Saturday night, does any of this count?

"There aren’t any studies that can give us clear guidelines on this," said Dr Armour. "But, in essence, the less alcohol we consume, the better for our skin (and our liver!)."  

So, like, how many drinks on a Saturday night is okay?

"I’d suggest that staying within the Australian government guidelines of no more than 10 standard drinks per week, and no more than four standard drinks on any one day, is a good starting point."

If you give up drinking, does your skin repair itself?

In terms of dehydration and inflammation, Dr Armour said these things will absolutely improve. However, when it comes to ageing - this is the kinda stuff that can't be reversed. 

We know. We want to cry too.

"Glycation of skin proteins is permanent. So, to combat any champagne-induced wrinkles, consider using skincare ingredients to boost collagen production – a cocktail of niacinamide, and retinoids alternating with AHAs is a good start."

What's the worst kind of alcohol for your skin?

Alright, when it comes to what you should avoid, Dr Armour said the lower the sugar content the better. 

"The more excess sugar that we consume on a night out, the worse the glycation of our dermal collagen will be. So, champagne (sob!), sweet cocktails and sweet white wine = bad. Clear spirits (think gin and vodka) and dry white wines are a little better."

Any other tips to avoid damaging our skin when it comes to alcohol?

"Drink plenty of water to combat the dehydrating effects of alcohol on our skin. Eat a diet rich in antioxidants (blueberries, green leafy veges, and other bright veges are in) to combat oxidative stress on your skin," suggested Dr Armour. 

Okay, got it.

"Make sure you have at least two alcohol free days per week. And, absolutely ensure that you sun protect carefully to make sure that UV damage which is so prevalent in Australia, isn’t also contributing to destruction of your skin’s precious collagen and elastin."

Feature image: Getty