There’s an old saying that says ‘you are what you eat.’ As for acne, what you eat (and drink) can make you break out. Such is especially the case if you love drinking alcohol.
It goes without saying that alcohol exerts many harmful effects on the body. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it can affect the brain, disrupting mood and behavior. It also affects thinking and concentration.
To make matters worse, it damages the major organs as well. Not only does it affect the liver and pancreas, but it also brings about heart problems and cancers.
With alcohol’s many effects on the body, it comes as no surprise that it harms the skin as well. In fact, frequent liquor consumption can cause breakouts because of these effects:
Alcohol is High in Sugar and Carbs
In her interview with WebMD, Dr. Ava Shamban explained that "Poor nutrition may make acne-prone individuals more susceptible to breakouts."
This is not only limited to unhealthy fares, as certain beverages are included in the list as well. Apart from soda, alcohol is considered one of the more ‘bad’ drinks for the body. For one, it is made of fermented yeast and starches, which are high in sugar and carbohydrates. Unfortunately, these two ingredients help contribute to acne flare-ups.
Alcohol carbs can spike the blood sugar levels, for which the body responds by producing more insulin. According to Dr. Valori Treloar, this “increases the production of skin oils and contributes to the clogging of follicles." It’s just a matter of time before these plugged follicles transform into red, inflamed zits.
Alcohol Can Lead to Dry Skin
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it can make you pee more than usual. It does so by reducing the production of antidiuretic hormone, which is in charge of conserving water in your body. With this out of the picture, the body makes more urine than normal.
To wit, for about 7 ounces of alcohol that you drink, your body produces the same amount of urine – plus an additional 4 ounces. So even if you chug a lot of water, still consuming alcohol can make you dehydrated.
More than just making you dizzy, dehydration can dry up your skin as well.
“Dry skin can have microscopic cracks and fissures in which bacteria can multiply and cause acne,” according to an interview with Dr. Francesca Fusco.
Alcohol Can Cause Inflammation
According to Wang et al., alcohol can impair gut and liver functions, which can then lead to systemic inflammation. Apart from causing skin redness, this process can trigger the development of pimples. It can lead to red, swollen marks known as inflammatory acne.
Alcohol Dilates the Skin Pores
Alcohol is a vasodilator, and as such, it can widen the blood vessels. Consequently, it can enlarge the skin pores as well. These widened pores can foster the development of whiteheads and blackheads, according to Dr. Amy Spizuoco.
In her interview with GQ magazine, Dr. Spizuoco emphasized the need to address this problem right away. She adds: “If it is not properly treated, it can go on to cause inflamed skin papules (lesion-like bumps) and cystic acne.”
Cystic acne is a severe form, where blocked pores become inflamed and infected. This pus-filled bump is not only itchy, but it is very painful as well. If this cyst bursts, the infection can spread to nearby areas in your face. Since it can last for years, cystic acne can lead to unsightly scars and marks on the skin.
Alcohol Affects Sleep
About 20% of Americans drink alcohol to fall asleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If you are guilty of doing this, know that it can be bad for your sleep cycle – as well as your skin.
For one, alcohol can inhibit restorative sleep – one that allows for better learning and memory formation in the morning. It can also disrupt your sleep cycle, so you end up waking earlier despite not being well-rested.
With alcohol busting your sleep patterns, your body ends up releasing the stress hormone cortisol. This “encourages inflammation in the skin, causing flare-ups in conditions like acne,” Dr. Judith Hellman told the National Sleep Foundation.
What You Can Do
Since alcohol is an obvious culprit behind bad skin, you must try to cut it from your diet. Instead, focus on drinking healthier beverages such as:
Alcohol can be dehydrating, so you need something that supplies the skin with adequate moisture. Water proves to be the best source since it has no calories at all! It can greatly moisturize the skin, keeping the barrier intact against acne-causing bacteria.
Another good alternative to alcohol is green tea. It is rich in antioxidants such as epigallocatechin gallate. As such, it can help reduce sebum production, as well as acne-triggering inflammation.
This tea contains a huge dose of curcumin, a spice known for its many skin-beautifying properties. Not only is it a potent antioxidant, but it can help prevent skin inflammation as well. More importantly, you can also use your turmeric powder to create a face mask for acne.
Of course, eating well is important too. Swap your sugary, starchy foods for fruits and vegetables.
Not only are they healthy, but they are also rich in skin-saving nutrients. For best results, opt for fares with these acne-fighting vitamins and minerals:
Alcohol drinking, without a doubt, can trigger a bad case of breakouts. Apart from being high in carbs, it can dry the skin, dilate the pores, and cause inflammation. It can also disrupt sleep, which leads to the release of acne-triggering hormones. With that being said, it’s best to forego alcohol in favor of more healthy beverages, such as water, green tea, and curcumin tea.