As many of us know, the festive season can veer towards a little too much when it comes to managing excess, especially with all of its liqueur chocolates, alcohol-themed gift sets and toasts to the new year. And while we’ve come to expect this, what’s often overlooked are the detrimental effects that increased alcohol intake can have on your skin.
Cue inflammation, dehydration, dullness, breakouts, eye bags, blotchy skin, broken capillaries, visible veins, an increase in fine lines, and a deepening of existing lines. According to skincare expert Diane Ackers, this is because of a toxic byproduct of the alcohol metabolising in the liver, which gets released into the body and skin causing the tissue to dehydrate.
“The other factor to consider when you drink is your sleep pattern,” she says, “which tends to be disrupted and becomes less rejuvenating. So, besides the dehydration and hangover, you now have dark circles, under-eye bags and likely some skin puffiness and irritability.” Just what you need in the lead up to a socially distanced Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations.
So, what to do? Vogue asks four skincare experts for their tips on how to save your skin from hangovers (and please, always remember to drink responsibly).
Dr Paul Nassif, skin specialist and founder of Nassif Medspa
Avoid sugary drinks
Alcoholic drinks tend to be high in sugar, and white wine and cocktails are the worst culprits. The sugar in the alcohol enters your bloodstream, which causes inflammation. This produces enzymes, which break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles (called glycation). The more this happens in our body, the quicker our skin ages. Sugar can also aggravate rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and acne.
Alcohol also reduces your vitamin-A levels, which is a powerful antioxidant and has a key role in the production of collagen. As we age, we lose collagen and elastin, which causes the face to ‘sag’—so drinking alcohol is speeding up the ageing process of the skin.
Try to drink at least two litres of water a day with lemon to start the liver’s detoxification process. It takes approximately 28 days for your skin to renew itself. This process varies from person to person and is age dependent, so to see an improvement in the condition of your skin, you would need to give up drinking for at least a month. After this time, your skin should feel more hydrated and plumper—and it’s likely that you will have more of a ‘glow’ and a healthier complexion.
Georgia Louise, celebrity facialist
Go easy on the makeup
While getting ready for the celebrations (even when they are just at home), try to get into the habit of embracing your natural beauty without using a pore-clogging foundation. Focus on clear skin with bright eyes and a solid lip. This will save your skin the following morning.
Keep to your skincare routine that night
Be prepared to give yourself a facial the same night to combat the effects of alcohol on your skin. Don’t skip any of your skincare steps and don’t use make-up wipes (no matter how sophisticated they are—it’s like smearing a dirty cloth all over your face).
Boost your collagen with some LED light
Your skin will have dulled dramatically by the following day, so reach for a LED light mask such as the GLOLite LED Mask to give your collagen cells a boost. It will oxygenate your skin and give it back its glow.
Faye Purcell, development chemist at Q+A Skincare
Choose your drink wisely
Unfortunately, your favourite tipple might be the reason your skin is feeling so lacklustre the next day. Drinks that contain lots of sugar, such as cocktails and beer, will leave skin puffy and inflamed. Although avoiding alcohol completely is the best option, there are alcoholic drinks that are more skin-friendly than others, such as clear spirits and sugar-free mixers.
Alcohol is a toxin and a diuretic (it increases the excretion of water from our bodies). Dehydrated skin needs to be treated from within, so drink a pint of water before bed and stay as hydrated as possible the following day. Try infusing your water with cucumber, citrus or mint for an extra antioxidant boost.
Rehydrate with serums
When applying soothing and hydrating serums, look out for ingredients called humectants. These draw moisture from the air into your skin to replenish your cells’ water levels, and they work best when applied to damp skin. Look for products with hyaluronic acid, glycerine and panthenol (vitamin B5).
Apply an occlusive (something that seals in moisture and prevents excess water loss from the skin’s surface) after hydrating products—this will help lock in the moisture. Reach for plant-based facial oils and rich moisturisers to replenish the skin’s natural defence system (and to give yourself a much-needed pamper).
Diane Ackers, skincare expert
Drink in moderation
Where you can, drink a non-alcoholic drink to give your liver a chance to metabolise any previous alcohol intake.
Have a cup of tea
Once the night is over, drink some herbal tea—mint, ginger and lemon or turmeric are all great before you sleep to give your liver a helping hand at flushing those toxins away.
Take your make-up off
Don’t go to bed with your make-up on. Think of all the bacteria you’ve gathered on your skin during the day—don’t let it breed overnight and get comfortable on your bed linen. Wash your face, then apply an intense hydrating serum, such as hyaluronic acid, and a skin-boosting moisturiser, such as marine collagen, to give you a little radiance boost the following day.
Take a few deep breaths before going to sleep to get some good, clean oxygen into your lungs and calm the mind. Keep a glass of water on the bedside table—if you wake up, sip and then try to go back to sleep.
In the days after the festivities, treat your skin to a facial: exfoliate, then apply a soothing and hydrating mask. Think ‘antioxidant’, whether topical or in your diet (plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will put the nourishment back into your body and skin).
Please remember to always drink responsibly.