What Drinking Alcohol Really Does To Your Skin

We all know that a martini or Long Island iced tea is not exactly the health equivalent of a green smoothie, but how bad is alcohol for your skin, really? Are those bags under your eyes the result of that extra beer, or are they just because you stayed up too late bingeing on Netflix? Let's break it down.

Unfortunately, alcohol does actually deserve the bad rap it gets when it comes to skin health. Drinking alcohol — especially in large quantities — is one of the worst things you can do for your skin. New York nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez explains, "Alcohol is actually one of the worst, most aggressive compounds to destroy your skin. I always joke with my patients, 'If you want to get older, go ahead and drink!'" (via Vogue).

One of the main problems is that alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it sucks the fluid out of your cells, dehydrating the skin. This can make skin appear dull and dry, can enhance the appearance of fine wrinkles, and can even cause redness and itchiness (via Healthline). The overall effect is aging.

Drinking plenty of water can help combat the effects of alcohol

Alcohol also causes inflammation in the body's tissues. If inflammation continues long-term due to heavy, repeated drinking, this can have an aging effect on the skin, as well as negatively affecting overall health. Alcohol also weakens the body's defenses, causing the release of free radicals into the body, while at the same time hampering the body's ability to fight them (via Ria Health).

Does this mean that, to save your skin, you need to give up alcohol entirely? Not exactly (although "no alcohol" challenges are proliferating online). There are steps you can take to lessen the negative effects of alcohol on the skin. As with most things, moderation is key.

First, cut back on how much you drink. Drinking "moderately," according to the CDC, means one drink or less per day for women, and two drinks or less per day for men. The less you consume, the more your skin will thank you.

Next, combat the dehydrating effects of alcohol by drinking more water. Rodriguez told Vogue, "If you're going to drink, drink water with it to increase that diuretic effect. I think mothers have been saying that for the last 2,000 years, but nobody listens if your mother says it."