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We experiment with countless serums and creams, schedule expensive facials, and consume copious amounts of water in our quest for flawless skin, but there is a beyond simple solution that has been staring us in the face all this time: giving up (or significantly reducing) our alcohol consumption. We've long known that alcohol is not a panacea for health, but it has a surprising effect on our complexions.

So what exactly does alcohol do to the skin?

According to New York nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez alcohol is one of the worst, most aggressive substances for damaging skin. "If you want to become older, go ahead and drink," I constantly jokingly tell my patients. In a time when people are more curious about sobriety than ever, Rodriguez explains the precise impacts of alcohol on skin as well as the advantages of quitting drinking or indulging more subtly.

Alcohol dehydrates

"Two drinks a day is considered to be drinking. Alcohol affects every mucous membrane, including the skin, the pancreas, and the liver, causing a great deal of harm to the skin. Dehydration is the first consequence since all the fluid in the skin is actually removed. A significant difference in the skin can be seen between a woman of the same age who has drank for 20 or 30 years and one who hasn't at all. The dehydration damage causes more wrinkles, which can make you appear 10 years older.

Alcohol inflames the tissue

"Systemic inflammation of the skin brought on by alcohol causes a histamine reaction, which results in the skin's redness and flushing. If you keep drinking, it can develop over time—six months, a year, or two years—into a conspicuous face redness that you can't avoid. At first, you may think, "Oh, [I'm] a bit red, not a huge concern."


The good news is that, like any other organ, your skin can regenerate if you decide to stop using it. The body rehydrates itself at an amazing rate. But how much harm has been done determines how quickly regeneration occurs. I think it's terrific if someone who has been drinking for 15 to 20 years stops, but can they regenerate their skin to [that of] a normal 50-year-old? Collagen is difficult to recover from once it has been destroyed.

Choosing Your Liquor Wisely

What is the finest alcohol to choose if you do drink? Varying types of alcohol have different impacts on the skin, but in general, the clearer the alcohol, the faster it leaves your system. Examples of this include vodka, gin, and tequila. If you're going to drink anything, my recommendation is to choose a vodka without grains, such as a potato vodka. It enters and exits your body without any issues because it is much clearer and smoother.

Drinking 3 times a week—Or Less

"When you drink when you're 20 years old, the alcohol exits your body in around three hours. It requires an average of 33 hours when you are 40 years old. If your transit time is three hours, you can consume alcohol on Monday and it will be eliminated from your system by Tuesday. If you are 40 years old and you drink on Monday, wait until Wednesday to drink. Reduce consumption to once or twice a week; the less you consume, the less harm your skin will sustain.

Finally: Stay Hydrated! especially after and while drinking.


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