How Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Skin and Facial Appearance

Written by Julie Fridlington, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on October 22, 2013 12 Comments

Recent studies have shown that a moderate consumption of alcohol can be beneficial to one’s health and enjoying a glass of wine or beer after a hard day at work is a common way to relax. However, consuming too much alcohol not only makes you feel bad, it can affect your appearance too.

Excessive alcohol can age the skin. The three biggest negative impacts are:


The human body is almost 50% composed of water.  Since the skin is the largest organ in the body, without adequate water it cannot perform its normal barrier protective function or appear healthy and vibrant.  Healthy looking skin needs a good balance of moisture, so drinking plenty of water helps keep your skin hydrated. Think of water as an internal moisturizer, which you should apply continuously throughout the day. Alcohol can dehydrate your body, pulling moisture out of the skin, along with the vital nutrients your skin needs to keep it healthy. When skin becomes too dry, it is more likely to wrinkle, and can make you appear older than you actually are.

Blood Vessel Dilation

When you drink alcohol the blood vessels just beneath the surface of your skin dilate, causing redness or flushing and worsening the appearance of spider veins. For those who abuse alcohol, this effect can become permanent, giving a very uneven, unhealthy-looking complexion.

Pre-Existing Skin Conditions

There are several dermatologic conditions that can be aggravated by the consumption of alcohol including rosacea and psoriasis. Drinking alcohol can cause symptom flare-ups making these chronic diseases more difficult to treat. Minimizing your consumption of alcohol should be part of your regime for managing any pre-existing skin condition.

Reducing Alcohol Intake Improves Appearance

Overall, reducing the consumption of alcohol will result in better skin. This is evidenced by a recent case study from the UK site Daily Mail, which involved a mother of two who normally drank five large glasses of wine weekly. She cut out alcohol completely for one month, which resulted in great improvement to her complexion.

If you have consumed an excess amount of alcohol, you can attempt to counteract the ill-effects on your skin. Drink plenty of water to rehydrate your body both during and post alcohol consumption, which will in turn rehydrate your skin. Be sure to thoroughly cleanse your skin, and nourish it with a good quality moisturizer as well as daily sun screen. Consumption of alcohol can also lead to other unhealthy habits like smoking and consumption of junk food, which can also have a negative impact on the appearance of the skin. Instead of turning to junk food the morning after the party, you should concentrate on eating nutritious food which will provide your skin with the essential nutrients it needs to look bright and healthy again.

The best way to avoid damaging your skin in the long and short term is to maintain a minimal or moderate level on your alcohol consumption.

Julie Fridlington, MD

Dr. Fridlington is Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, Texas Medical Association, and Travis County Medical Society. She was selected as one of the “Texas Rising Stars” in Texas Monthly magazine in July 2013 in the category of Dermatology.

12 Responses to “How Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Skin and Facial Appearance”

  1. Avatar doug f. says:

    You were my hero even before you wrote this article. Also since you loved ‘racing in the rain”.

  2. Avatar Julie says:

    You ruined my holiday plans lol. I’m still going to have some wine though. Great article

  3. Avatar Todd says:

    Thank you for another fantastic article.

  4. Avatar Ashley says:

    Looks like I’ll have to cut down on the nightcaps 🙂

  5. Avatar Damien says:


  6. Avatar Elane says:

    Any recommendations for the best (or least harmful) type of alcohol to drink?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Elane, Wine and beer are defiantly better than hard liquor. Especially if consumed in moderation. However, cutting down on over consumption of any type of alcohol is always best 🙂

  7. Avatar Leslie says:

    Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading it! Thank you!

  8. Avatar Steve says:

    I am anxiously searching for answers to my skin problem. As a 70-year-old and fair complexioned my skin is very sensitive. I drink about two drinks a day and I am thinking the alcohol may be aggravating my numerous eczema spots (they say it is), the worst instance of which is my on my hands and fingers which alternately itch or hurt intensely much of the time. The alcohol could be the culprit – or exacerbate things. Sorry, I am far away.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Steve, we’re sorry to hear about that. Alcohol intake may be exacerbating your symptoms. However, I would encourage you to continue researching and go see a board certified dermatologist in your area. A trained physician can narrow this down and provide some relief!

      Thanks for reading our blog and submitting your comment!

      –WD Staff

  9. […] consumption can aggravate chronic conditions like eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. According to Dr. Julie Fridlington, MD, alcohol in the body can cause skin reddening, even without a pre-existing skin condition, and can […]

  10. Avatar Emily says:

    Great 🙁

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