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Everything you need to know about curing your hangover skin


TextDominic Cadogan

We asked Dr Sarah Shah how to avoid the effects of alcohol and what can be done to combat them long-term

The day back to reality after the bank holiday weekend (or let’s be honest, any weekend) is always a tough one. Not only are you already counting down the days until the next weekend, if it’s been a heavy few days of socialising (read: drinking) your skin is probably screaming out for some respite. 

The dreaded symptoms of a hangover on your skin – it’s dry, dull, and potentially beginning to breakout – can feel like they last a lifetime. But what can be done to remedy? To find out more, we spoke to Dr Sarah Shah of the Artistry Clinic in London to understand the long term effects drinking alcohol has on the skin and how best to combat them. 

What are some of the effects that drinking alcohol has on the skin? 

Dr Sarah Shah: One of the main effects of drinking too much alcohol is dehydration. Not just inside the body, but also on your skin. Alcohol is known to be a diuretic which forces water out of our body, so you can lose quite a bit of water our skin cells need, leaving skin dehydrated and dull. Not only does it force water out, but it can also be hard for your body to rehydrate itself afterwards, and quickly too, so this can leave skin dry and fine lines and wrinkles become more apparent. 

When we drink, alcohol causes inflammation and this can show up on our skin as redness or puffiness. Drinks such as white wine are high in sugar and excessive drinking can lead to breakouts on the skin. 

How quickly will the negative effects begin to show? 

Dr Sarah Shah: You can start to see the alcohol effects on your skin almost immediately – after 24 hours, your skin will begin to appear dull and dry. 

How does this worsen over time?

Dr Sarah Shah: Excessive amounts of alcohol consumption can speed up the process of fines lines and wrinkles developing due to the amount it dehydrates the skin. 

Are there any drinks in particular that are worse than others?

Dr Sarah Shah: White wine is high in sugar so these will contribute to breakouts on the skin. Cocktails also contain high levels of sugar due to the syrups and fruit juices which are used to create them. Red wine tends to release histamine and cause blood vessels to expand, contributing to the redness of the skin.  

Are there any benefits to the skin from drinking?

Dr Sarah Shah: Unfortunately, not.

Besides being teetotal, what can people do to lessen the effects of alcohol on the skin?

Dr Sarah Shah: One thing you can do is choose your drinks wisely – steer towards those drinks that have less sugar in them. It’s also advised to drink water alongside alcoholic drinks to increase the diuretic effect. 

“If you’re using the right skincare regimes and drink lots of water, you will start to see your skin going back to its usual self after a few days” – Dr Sarah Shah 

How long does it take to reverse the effects? 

Dr Sarah Shah: If you’re using the right skincare regimes and drink lots of water, you will start to see your skin going back to its usual self after a few days. By giving your body a break from alcohol for a few days, you are allowing your body to get rid of the alcohol and toxins inside.  

What are some products that can help reduce the effects of alcohol on the skin? 

Dr Sarah Shah: Skincare products containing Vitamin A (retinol) encourages cell regeneration so products containing this is sure to help your skin. Retinol is the most used anti-ageing ingredient skincare today due to its anti-ageing compounds – it helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  

Some products I can suggest from ZO Skin Health are; Retinol Skin Brightener (an antioxidant protection that helps support the repairing of your skin), Recovery Crème (helps restore hydration and nourishment to severely dehydrated skin and reinforces the protective skin barrier), and Daily Power Defense (a powerful antioxidant serum designed to improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles).

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