By Meg Hemphill
“Drinking alcohol can worsen acne or lead to breakouts in many ways,” says Blair Murphy-Rose, M.D., a board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist.
Let's get to the bottom of (the glass).
Unfortunately, alcohol can wreak havoc on the complexion, especially for acne-prone skin.
“Alcohol causes inflammation of liver cells, leading to oxidative stress,” says nurse practitioner Christine Adams. Oxidative stress is when you have more free radicals than antioxidants in your body; it’s been linked as a precursor to acne.
“Alcohol consumption can affect cells of the immune system, leading to an environment more favorable to Propionibacterium acnes — P. acnes — and other acne-associated bacteria,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose.
We know that hormones can play a role in acne development, and as drinking alcohol can affect hormones, it may ignite a flare-up. “Alcohol intake will increase estrogen levels, even in men,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose.
“Elevated glycemic indexes have been associated with acne,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “And alcohol, especially sugary mixed cocktails, can exacerbate breakouts.”
“Alcohol is a diuretic, so it causes dehydration,” says Adams. “and dehydrated skin can cause acne breakouts.”
“Alcohol consumption increases inflammation, which can worsen acne,” explains Dr. Murphy-Rose. Adds Adams: “Sugary drinks can make inflammation worse.”