With the holiday season in full swing, so is “hangover skin.” While we’re partial to a festive tipple, drinking alcohol isn’t the best for skin health. Luckily, there are things you can do to counteract a heavy night of drinking. Read on for expert tips on remedying hangover skin, and learn how alcohol impacts the skin.
Why is alcohol bad for the skin?
First and foremost, alcohol is a diuretic which means it is extremely dehydrating for the skin. “It draws the water out of your body and makes you go to the toilet more than usual, depleting your body of water and vitamins,” Dr. Ross Perry, founder and medical director of Cosmedics, explains. “Subsequently, your skin will get dehydrated, which will cause your skin to dry, and create a sunken and saggy appearance, and also cause an aging effect with wrinkles and fine lines,” he added.
Alcohol is what experts also call a vasodilator, meaning it causes your blood vessels to get bigger. “This is why people who drink a lot of alcohol can be prone to dilated capillaries in the face and a common trigger for people suffering from rosacea,” Dr. Sophie Shotter notes. As alcohol is essentially sugar, this is bad news for the skin. “It causes glycation, which causes the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin to become brittle, and one of the side effects of this is a dull, sallow appearance to the skin. Alcohol will accelerate collagen breakdown in the skin,” Dr. Shotter highlights. Lastly, heavy nights of drinking tend to throw off sleeping patterns, which can also take a toll on your face. Lack of sleep often equals dark undereye circles.
Hit up the H₂O
After an evening with alcohol, it’s imperative to replace lost fluids. “Replacing the water in your body is key the next day, as not only will your body be very dehydrated but also your skin,” Dr. Perry states. “Drinking water is essential, but also green, or mint tea and green juices help to restore the vitamin levels in your body,” he recommends.
Always wash your face
Don’t make the mistake of passing out in a full face of makeup. Prepping the skin before bed will make a world of difference the next day. “The best thing you can do for your skin is to drink two cups of water before bed and cleanse your face and remove your makeup. Using a hydrating and calming night cream will also be beneficial,” says Dr. Perry.
The next day, cleanse your skin again to ensure every last trace is gone. “When you wake up, give your skin a proper cleanse to remove any makeup, oil, and debris from your skin,” Dr. Shotter says. Next up is exfoliation. “Exfoliate your skin with an at-home peel that contains some AHAs, or PHAs for more sensitive skin types,” shares Dr. Shotter.
Try a hydrating mask
Get the hydration levels of your skin back up with a moisturizing face mask. “Hydrating sheet masks could work for a quick fix the morning after. Not only will they feel soothing, but they will also reduce puffy, tired eyes and skin and give dehydrated skin that glow back fairly instantly. Definitely a good option if you have to go to work and need a quick fix and boost for your skin,” says Dr. Perry.
Get out the gua sha
Facial massage is a great technique to get the face looking a little more awake — plus, it often feels nice if you’re feeling a little worse for wear. Hayley Hems, an advanced facialist based in London, suggests the gua sha tool. “Gua sha is a light pressured facial massage technique designed to relieve tension in the muscles of the face, boost circulation, encourage lymphatic flow, and reduce water retention,” she explained. “One of the side effects of alcohol consumption can be water retention. Gua sha massage speeds up the process of water retention elimination, allowing blood flow to surface and increase, which as a result reduces puffiness and instantly makes your complexion look more radiant and brighter,” she clarified.
Ice your eyes
Chances are, you might have puffy eyes if you’ve hit the alcohol hard. There’s a handy hack that can help here, and it’s simply in your freezer. “Wrap a piece of ice in a soft muslin cloth and gently glide the cloth under the eyes back and forth until the whole ice cube has melted. Using a cold compress in this area helps decrease inflammation and puffiness and awakens the area,” Hems recommended.
Make the Most of Makeup
Sometimes you have to fake it ‘til you make it. A tinted moisturizer is an easy hack for bringing a little color to your face while also adding a hit of hydration. “Wear a tinted, moisturizing lip balm — a little pop of color goes a long way and can instantly make you look and feel more awake. Curl your lashes. It’s a minimal effort but can surprisingly make you look more awake,” Hems suggests.
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.