Can dry January save your skin?

An expert dermatologist explains the impact of alcohol on the skin and how to tackle ‘hangover’ skin in the wake of the party season.

Hair & Beauty

If your skin is not looking its best after the festive season, the Christmas Day sherry or the boozy New Year’s Eve celebrations could be the prime culprit.

Alcohol is a diuretic. This means it can cause the skin to become dehydrated , appear dull, and increase the appearance of fine lines. It is also pro-inflammatory, which means it can result in the skin appearing puffy and can exacerbate redness as well as pre-existing skin conditions.

With millions of people taking on Dry January – the month- long alcohol-free challenge - Dr. Shaaira Nasir, Consultant Dermatologist at the UK’s leading skin clinic, sk:n, explains whether alcohol really does impact the skin, and shares her expert advice on the best remedies for ‘hangover’ skin, if (like most of us!), you went a step too far with the fizz this Christmas!

Can dry January save your skin?

Alcohol can worsen acne and exacerbate signs of ageing

Dr. Shaaira explains, “Bing drinking causes a sudden surge of sugar in the blood stream. Your body produces a spike in insulin to break down this sugar. This also causes a raised amount of hormone release called androgen which increases oil production. As a result, blackheads, whiteheads and/or acne can form. Similarly, alcohol with a high sugar content causes a rapid spike in insulin. Alcohol also increases inflammation which contributes to worsening acne. Increased oil and inflammation cause acne spots to form.”

“In addition, the high sugar content in alcohol causes glycation – a process which hardens our collagen causing the skin to age faster. Excess alcohol intake also causes DNA damage resulting in skin ageing”

Alcohol consumption can flare inflammatory skin conditions

According to Dr. Shaaira, “Alcohol causes flushing and worsens redness in those with rosacea through histamine release. It’s known to flare inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema , seborrheic dermatitis and urticaria (hives). Excess alcohol intake can also lead to an increase in non-melanoma skin cancers.”

Should we avoid alcohol altogether?

Although Dry January is a great time for many to cut down on their alcohol consumption, the impact of alcohol on the skin does not mean we have to avoid alcohol altogether!

A glass of water

To minimise the effects of alcohol, Dr. Shaaira advises, “Make sure to keep hydrated by alternating your drink with water. Avoid alcohol with high sugar content such as cocktails and avoid drinks with salt which can also add to dehydration.”

How to minimise ‘hangover skin’

Finally, if Dry January is not for you, or you have indulged a bit too much during the party season,  Dr. Shaaira shared her top tips for minimising hangover skin.

She says, “Wash your face in the morning to remove excess make-up which might have been left behind after a night out. Pat face dry. Apply an antioxidant serum containing ingredients such as vitamin C and E. These have anti-ageing properties and fight off ageing caused by pollutants.

“Apply an eye cream and moisturiser with hydrating ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and glycerin. Don’t forget your SPF every morning. Make sure to drink plenty of water the next day to rehydrate yourself. “

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