As good as the first sip of a glass of merlot may taste, I know it’s not doing me any favors. By now, we’re all aware of the basic effects alcohol has on our body: It does damage to our liver, heart, and our brain. But have we thought about what it does to our skin?
If you needed another reason to embrace “Dry January,” here’s one: Cutting alcohol may be the secret to a clearer complexion. As Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, board-certified dermatologist and creator of Dr. Loretta skincare, says, alcoholic drinks can lead to redder and more inflamed skin.
“Alcohol increases blood flow to our skin so it worsens redness and rosacea,” Ciraldo says. “If you’ve ever been diagnosed with rosacea or suffer from facial redness, cutting out alcohol can give significant improvement.”
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, alcohol, particularly white wine and liquor, can actually increase the risk of developing rosacea within women. The study also reports that alcohol is linked to acne and psoriasis.
“Alcohol breaks out skin because of the high sugar content, and sugar of course leads to breakouts,” says Joshua Ross, celebrity aesthetician and owner of SkinLab. “And of course, alcohol causes dehydration, which effects the skin too.” And we’re all well aware of the effects dehydration can have on our complexion: dryness, wrinkling, and a lack of buoyancy, according to a report by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
But the effects of alcohol are beyond superficial. According to the American Association for Cancer Research, alcohol intake is associated with increased risk of melanoma, and is to blame for 3.6 percent of overall cancer diagnoses worldwide. The study showed that alcohol (white wine being the biggest culprit) increased the risk of skin cancer on areas of the body that receive little sun exposure.
The frightening risks of alcohol can go on, but the real question at hand is: Can cutting it out, even just for a month, save your skin from the harmful effects? According to Ross, yes, it will come with its skin-boosting benefits, but you’re also not at major risk if you enjoy a drink every now and then. “By cutting out alcohol, you can avoid all these negative effects: skin will be more hydrated, less breakouts, and you’ll reduce redness, inflammation and puffiness,” he says. “If you do drink, try going with low sugar options like tequila on the rocks. Also, stick with a single liquor over ice because it will taste stronger, you’ll feel the effects quicker and will drink less!”