Here’s What (Quitting) Alcohol Does to Your Skin

woman with glowing skin after quitting alcohol
Photo by Sunny Ng on Unsplash
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Booze, a magical substance most of us indulge in. It has its alluring charms. Oh, the seemingly endless fun it allows! Not having to ponder the tribulations of life, living through emotions and the feel of the moment. A social lubricant for the anxious and introverted. The warm cradle of a fallacious hug.

But on the flip side, alcohol can be detrimental to mental health and skin health. Its many highs come with consequences of ruin that one can only imagine the effects of alcohol on skin and aging.

To start with, it cancels out beauty sleep, dehydrates your skin, and – oh my, the calories alcohol packs. What are the various alcohol effects on skin, and how can quitting it work in your favor?

Alcohol effects on skin: cancels your beauty sleep

It’s not uncommon to get knocked out after a few cans of booze. Whilst the list of mixers is seemingly infinite, alcohol doesn’t mix well with quality sleep. Its ability to induce sleep can be a siren’s call to those who have trouble falling into slumber. Alas, do not be fooled, as alcohol does not truly generate restorative sleep and in reality, can reduce sleep quality.

Lack of a good night’s rest affects blood flow and collagen development. The skin on your face is thinner than the rest of your body. When you drink, your blood vessels expand, meaning those not-so-little bags under your peepers will come out to play. Any form of redness will become more noticeable. Clearly, the effects of alcohol on skin and aging become obvious — sleep deprivation causes your face to become paler, puffier, droopier. Wrinkles become more pronounced and your eyes may become strained and could turn red and “veiny”. I’d say that sounds like a hot mess.

How to deal with under-eye bags?

A cheap home remedy would be to dampen tea bags and place them under the eye. Preferably a soothing concoction of chamomile or perhaps green tea (do not use mint or ginger tea bags).

A better route would be to use retinol for those pesky eye bags. It’s more of a long-term solution to counter the effects of alcohol on skin and aging. Retinol can come in liquid, gel, or cream form. An ingredient analogous to vitamin A usually applied 30 minutes after face cleansing. It improves collagen abundance and effectively uproots wrinkles and livens up dull un-bouncy skin. However! It is not advisable for pregnant women to take extra vitamin A or overuse retinol creams.

Thirsty, honey?

Dehydration is caused by alcohol’s diuretic which can and will affect your skin along with other bodily functions. It is the cause of hangover headaches the morning after. Remember that we are made of 70% water, which means it is imperative to stay hydrated, always! 

Drinking will also reduce your skin’s defenses against protecting itself from air pollutants, sun damage, and resulting byproduct chemicals like cigarette smoke. This can only amplify the effects of alcohol on skin and aging.

Nonetheless, those of us who enjoy the occasional drink most likely dismiss with laziness or forgetfulness the thoughts of alcohol effects on skin.  That “Ah, screw it. Skipping a day of cleansing can’t hurt me too much.” mentality can affect your skin badly in the long run. While doing so won’t be the end of the world it can certainly affect your skincare health overtime.

Drinking alcohol will increase your heart rate along with your body temperature, causing your body to sweat. There’s no harm in a little perspiration, however, once dirt and whatever else the outside world has stuck to you and dries up on your body and face, clogged pores are a likely manifestation of alcohol effects on skin.

Effects of alcohol on skin and aging: calories galore

Mixers are a diabolical pleasure. Unless you’re one of those drinkers who enjoy straight liquor, chances are your drinks are usually mixed with sugary goodness. Unfortunately for everyone, sugar ages skin through the process of glycation. A reaction that’s unwanted by, what I would assume to be, the majority of the earth’s population.

Consumption of alcohol often leads to the consumption of delectable foods as well. Bar wings, truffle fries, and pizza for example are easy to attain when alcohol is near. It is believed that such cravings are stimulated by nerve cells and neurons in your brain reacting to alcohol.  

While this is clearly one of the indirect alcohol effects on skin, the consequences can still be detrimental. 

So, what happens to your skin after quitting alcohol?

1st week – Keep going, you’ve got this! If you’re usually an avid drinker the first few days or even weeks of going dry will feel terrible and the results may not seem immediate. First, your skin will start to purge and look angrier than before. So keep your cleanser and moisturizer handy, but remember to be careful of over-cleansing. Eventually, inflammation will start to dissipate. Your skin will have had more of a chance to breathe during this time. And will reward you for it soon.

After one month – Less swelling, a more even tone, and a bouncier hydrated look. Most dry patches and unsightly redness should no longer plague your skincare routine. Possible weight loss or weight gain depending on your ability to resist “balancing” out those extra carbs you would be saving from quitting alcohol.

A year later – Your skin will thank you. Increased cell turnover will almost promise a livelier, healthier face — like an anti-aging ingredient has been hard at work! Your glowing radiance will be unparalleled, and the effects of alcohol on skin and aging should be obscure by now. The feeling of accomplishment matched with your body’s overall health might just ensure a permanent smile on your face, this will be the most beautiful of all.


Doing what’s best for your skin goes past the products you choose (even if you opt for natural and organic skincare products!).

Identifying how alcohol serves your life in both habit and psychological “vice” will keep you on the right track. Even if you aren’t choosing to quit alcohol, knowing the effects of alcohol on skin and aging should already make you consider cutting down on your consumption. 

After all, avoiding alcohol (and consequently these alcohol effects on skin) may not only be good for your skin health but for your wallet as well.