Your 21st birthday is a milestone in your life. Some have a sip of wine for the first time in their life that night, some may not remember that night at all. When you turn 21, you feel like you have officially reached "adult status". Well, I just hit that milestone this month, so what better way to celebrate than finding out what effects alcohol really has on you skin?
Ok, let's be real, alcohol is not that great for your skin. Basically, alcohol dehydrates your skin, big time. Keeping your skin hydrated gives you that fresh, plump appearance. Alcohol also inflames the skin and creates a histamine reaction; this is what gives your skin a red, flushed appearance after a few drinks, especially in people that have rosacea. Many alcoholic beverages also contains congeners, which is a substance produced during the fermentation process. This substance the main culprit in the ever-so-lovely hangover the next morning. Have you ever met somebody that looks refreshed and energetic after a night out drinking? Probably not, they most likely had a hangover. Also, you know how people who are long time alcoholics have some sort of liver damage? A major sign of liver damage is shown by the patient's outward appearance. Their skin is pasty (almost has a yellow tint to it), cold, and their pores are huge. This is caused because alcohol is a hepatotoxin, which is a toxin to the cells that detoxify the body (i.e your liver). This is also what gives you that sickly appearance the next morning.
Now, with all that being said, is there a type of alcohol that is better than another? What is the best way to prevent a hangover?
One easy thing to remember is the lighter in color, the better. Dark liquor contains congeners and products of extra fermentation. Remember what we said about congeners? Darker the drink = worse hangover. Shots such as vodka, gin, and tequila contain no extra salt, sugar, or other harmful ingredients. However, it is very typical with shots to lose track of how much alcohol you have actually consumed. Taking one shot will not do as much damage as taking 5 in a row, obviously. Now there are more options than just shots, what about mixed drinks? And beer? Mixed drinks are not as harsh as shots, but the danger in mixed drinks is the sugar content. Sugar spikes your insulin levels, which has been linked to causing acne, irritation, and increased skin aging. On the other hand, beer has a moderate amount of salt in it. Salt causes your skin to become dehydrated, giving the "tired" look to your skin. But on a more positive note, beer contains less alcohol than straight liquor. Beer also contains antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the skin that promote aging.
Now one of the most argued topics is if a glass of wine is actually good for you. Wine is made from grapes, grapes are a type of fruit, and fruit is good for you. Simple, right? Well, I wish it were that simple. Basically, there are two types of wine; red and white. White wine contains sugar, which earlier in this post we discovered was not the best for your skin. White wine is not known to contain health benefits like red wine. So why is red wine know to be better for you? Red wine contains more antioxidants than white, which we learned earlier antioxidants help fight free radicals and signs of aging. But, red wine is one of the most harmful drinks to people that suffer with certain skin conditions. Red wine can cause a histamine release, which makes the skin appear more flushed. Red wine would be good to avoid for people that suffer from rosacea.
Moral of the story: drink alcohol in moderation. A glass of wine at a nice dinner or a cold beer on the dock will not cause you to age 10 years overnight. As long as you are responsible and know your limits, alcoholic beverages can be enjoyed in many scenerios.