With festive season right around the corner, many of us will be knocking back more drinks than usual right now.
But the very real effects of skin hangover may make you take pause and think about drinking a little more responsibly in the coming months, both for your complexion, and of course for your overall wellbeing.
Dry, breakout-prone, inflamed skin may be what stares back at you in the mirror after a big night, meaning your hangover doesn't just extend to those lingering feelings of nausea and tiredness that invade your body (sorry). In fact, drinking is one of the worst things we can do for our skin, both in the short and long term.
But there are ways to safeguard our faces both as we drink and the following day, when the hangover may hit. We spoke to skin experts to find out the best ways to keep things looking and feeling tip top
How does alcohol actually affect the skin to cause ‘skin hangover’?
Without putting a major Debbie downer on your night out, alcohol can affect skin in a myriad of ways, and few of them are positive.
The most obvious is dehydration, which impacts your entire body as well as your skin. “Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases the production of urine, so when you pee the moisture out of your body you’re removing moisture from your skin, too,” says ‘Skin Nerd’ Jennifer Rock, dermal facialist and founder of newly refillable skincare brand Skingredients. “Dehydrated skin equals dull, unhealthy skin.”
When the body is dehydrated, “your skin and vital organs try to hold onto as much water as possible, leading to puffiness in the face,” adds Dr Kaywaan Khan, medical director at Hannah London.
Then there's the inflammation factor. “Alcohol = inflammation and inflammation = skin’s enemy,” says Megan Felton, co-founder of skincare consultancy Lion/ne. “This is not just bad for those with inflammatory conditions, but can also lead to free radical damage that causes premature skin ageing.”
Other impacts include a disturbed night's sleep (which is detrimental as sleep is so crucial to our skin health and appearance), breakouts, and ageing caused by premature wrinkles and lines. “Empty calories in certain drinks which can have sugar causes glycation, which is basically stiffening of collagen causing more wrinkles,” says Dr OBT, founder of Halcyon Aesthetics.
So all in all the results are… well, not great.
Which drinks are the worst culprits for skin hangover?
Experts agree that sugary drinks are the absolute worst for the dreaded skin hangover, as well as for your actual hangover! “Sugar causes insulin levels to spike which leads to widespread inflammation throughout the body. This leads to an overproduction of oils, which can end up causing a breakout,” says Rock.
There's also bad news for wine lovers.
“I hate to break it to you, but red wine is one of the worst offenders because it's a histamine releaser, which promotes redness and flushing,” explains Dr Khan. “This makes it the worst drink for the skin, particularly if you're prone to redness, or suffer with rosacea.”
So what can you actually drink that will have a minimal impact? Well, Felton loves an alcoholic Seltzer (think White Claw or TWIST) as a great alternative to a cocktail, but with less sugar and calories.
Rock advises opting for clear liquors like gin, vodka or tequila, as they leave your skin quicker. Something like a tequila soda with lime would be best.
How can your skin recover the next day?
While many of us will reach for a takeaway and an afternoon on the sofa, your skin requires a little more TLC.
It goes without saying, but the aim of the game should be rehydration, both for your complexion and your body as a whole, which will be feeling a little dry after a big night. But rehydration isn't just about drinking water (although this is your no.1 go-to), says Rock.
“If possible, place bowls of water over radiators, use humidifiers or aroma-diffusers to mitigate dehydration, and use hydrating facial spritzes often throughout the day.”
Ice-rolling can also offer some temporary relief.
Then there's the food you should be putting into your body; “avoid the hangover burger and try to get some antioxidants and protein in,” advises Rock. We're sorry.
How can you avoid skin hangover altogether?
While there are ways to diminish the effects of skin hangover, prevention is always preferable to treatment. And there are some tactics you can try out whilst out drinking to get the ball rolling.
For example, Felton suggests drinking a glass of water in-between every alcoholic beverage you have at a bar or club. It may be hard to keep up with (and that's before we even mention the queues for the toilets), but trust us, you'll be thankful you did the next day, and so will your glowing skin.
If you're really committed, Rock says you could always “swap the final two drinks of the night for something like Punchy [an alcohol-free seltzer drink], which still looks cool while you drink it, but will mean lower in sugar and no alcohol!”
Her other top tip is to never sleep with makeup on (no matter how late you get in) and to ensure layer up those hydrating serums before you go to bed. An overnight hydrating mask could be even better!
Oksana-Georgia M, senior practitioner at Skin+IQ, also recommends having a good meal while out or before you go, which helps your body to digest the alcohol. “If you do this, some of the alcohol you drink can pass through the gastrointestinal system along with the food, so that the two are metabolised in tandem (and thus, side effects aren’t as potent).”
The most important thing to do overall is to be responsible with your drinking choices, which not only benefits your face, but your health and wellbeing too!
This story originally appeared on Glamour UK