As Susanna Reid gives up alcohol, what impact can drinking have on your skin?

15th Apr 19 | Beauty

Unfortunately, a penchant for white wine could be increasing the look of wrinkles.

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Many people enjoy taking on the challenge of Dry January or Sober October, but there is a growing number who have drastically cut down alcohol beyond this – or cut it out entirely.

Susanna Reid is the latest public figure to confess she’s quit alcohol. In an article for The Sunday Times, the 49-year-old TV host reveals how she’s drastically cut down on booze because a doctor told her to, not because her drinking has become a “problem”.

“I was concerned because my skin was flushed, I kept getting flare-ups and blemishes, and they were leaving red scars,” she says. “I’d tried all manner of creams and washes, but I knew deep down that what was happening to my skin was probably a manifestation of what I was putting into my body.

“Separately I went to see a consultant to get a troublesome mole removed. I mentioned my other skin concerns. He told me that dilated blood vessels are not helped by alcohol and that cutting back would help.”

Much is made of the impact alcohol can have on your health – it can raise your blood pressure, contribute to your risk of a stroke and increase the likelihood of liver disease. Comparatively, little is made of the effect booze can have on your skin.

Seven months after quitting alcohol (aside from a handful of exceptions) Reid writes: “My skin isn’t perfect but it’s clearer.” Considering we now live in an age when multistep skincare routines are the norm, people are increasingly thinking about how much they drink.

So what do the experts have to say about the impact of booze on your skin?

Alcohol is a dehydrating toxin

“Drinking alcohol regularly is one of the worst things you can do to your skin, as its full of toxins which deprive the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients,” says Dr Ross Perry, medical director of CosmedicsUK.

“Unfortunately, consuming alcohol regularly can cause premature ageing giving the appearance of dull and dehydrated looking skin.”

Susanna Reid
Reid says that cutting out drinking means she no longer gets “hangxiety” (Matt Crossick/PA)

After a big night out most of us wake up with our mouth feeling like the Sahara. This is because of the dehydrating properties of alcohol, which also affect your skin.

“Because alcohol is a diuretic it’s dehydrating so your skin appears more dry, making lines and wrinkles appear more visible due to the lack of fluid/water on the skin. Too much booze can also lead to sagging skin, discolouration and enlarged pores,” says Perry.

Just to add to this fun, he says: “Alcohol also causes small blood vessels in the skin to widen, allowing more blood to flow close to the surface which produces a flushed appearance and can lead to broken capillaries on the face.”

After a few beers your face might start to feel flushed – no, this isn’t because the pub’s suddenly got warmer, it’s got more to do with the alcohol you’re drinking.

Dr Preema Vig, medical director of the Dr Preema London Clinic, adds: “Due to the inflammatory effect that alcohol has on our bodies, it makes our skin appear red, inflamed and puffy and also causes breakouts.”

It weakens your skin

Antioxidants can help your skin repair and brighten up, reducing the effect of lines and wrinkles. So maybe you’ve been eating blueberries because you’ve heard the antioxidants in them are great for your skin, or maybe you look for supplements or skincare products containing it.

Unfortunately though, overindulging when it comes to alcohol could undo all this good work. “Drinking lowers antioxidant defences in your skin and that makes the face more susceptible to things like sun damage and free radicals, which are byproducts from chemicals and substances like cigarette smoke,” explains Perry.

This is particularly something to be wary of if you live in a pollution-filled city, which could already be wreaking havoc on your skin.

It affects your sleep

It’s no secret even just one alcoholic drink can lead to restless sleep and an interrupted night, but have you ever considered the impact this has on your skin?

Even if you have the best skincare regime in the world, this can all be undone by not getting enough sleep. “Alcohol can also impact your sleep pattern – less sleep means that you are likely to wake up the next morning with dark under-eye circles and mottled skin,” Vig explains.

So what happens when you stop drinking?

It doesn’t take long for you to start recovering from the booze – Perry says the skin starts regenerating in as little as an hour as your body eliminates the toxins. At this point, he says: “It’s important to drink lots of water to keep your skin and body hydrated.”

Perry adds: “After just a couple of days rosacea won’t seem quite as bad but it’s really after seven days when you start to see real signs of improvement – the skin looks less dry, the under eye area appears less puffy, and skin conditions such as dandruff, eczema, and rosacea begin to improve. The healthy glow starts to appear and lines and wrinkles look less pronounced.”

The impact will be even greater the longer you stay off the booze, like Reid. “After a month skin will look more radiant and generally healthier looking,” Perry says.”The alcohol bloat will have almost gone in the face and, in place, [you’ll have] a more youthful appearance.”

© Press Association 2019