The Exact Effects Alcohol and Smoking Has on The Skin
Hardly do we make it to an outing where alcohol isn’t center stage. Whether it’s a holiday, a date, a work party or a casual hang out, alcohol seems to always be on the menu. Alcohol, with its dopamine effect and tendency to lower inhibitions and anxiety, can become a friend, a crutch, even an enemy. And it’s no bigger enemy than to your skin.
A bad habit that goes hand in hand with drinking is smoking. Cigarettes, once a carefree aspect of the resident “bad boy” or “bad girl,” can negatively impact your health and skin more than any substance, no matter how cool it may look. Yes, this counts even if you only smoke “socially.”
The deadly combination of alcohol and cigarette use can harm your skin more than you know. Knowing how to combat these effects and keep your skin beautiful, and your body healthy and able to fight toxins will serve you well as you juggle all aspects of your health.
Drinking and Dehydration
Although you may have been drinking aggressively or had a few too many, and that’s definitely a lot of liquid, it doesn’t mean you’re hydrating your body the way it needs to be. When the body processes alcohol through the liver, it releases a toxin, acetaldehyde, that dehydrates the body, which in turn dries out your skin.
If you’ve ever wondered why your skin is extra dry after a particularly boozy night, that’s why. In the long run, too many of these late nights will cause dreaded wrinkles, breakouts and perhaps permanent damage. This damage can also be detrimental to your daily men’s skincare routine.
Boozing and Breaking Out
Dry skin and wrinkles (yikes) aren’t the only byproducts of a night of drinking. Because alcohol dilates pores, breakouts are inevitable and can be worse than a run of the mill breakout from the skin’s natural chemistry. Worse, if cystic breakouts arise, it could cause scarring of the skin. The fourth drink is not worth it.
Have you ever noticed that when a heavy drinker gets older, their skin has a natural red tint, kind of like rosacea? More likely, you’ve noticed you or your friend’s chest or cheeks becoming flushed after becoming a bit tipsy. That’s because inflammation through drinking causes the capillaries in the skin to dilate, leading to an unsightly redness.
The skin, if frequently dilating, can become permanently red. Smoking also causes a similar side effect, though spider veins are more prevalent in a smoker’s complexion.
Heavy Sipping and Sleeping
We know that being drunk can interrupt REM sleep, causing the body to lose essential functions the next day. Your body needs this period of blissful sleep each night to prepare the body and the mind for their tasks the next day.
Having interrupted REM sleep causes the side effect of the “Sunday Scaries” or what’s being referred to as “hangxiety,” which makes you feel extra anxious and depressed when you’re experiencing a hangover. What’s more, the lack of restful sleep can also cause your complexion to look less than luminous (as well as dreaded dark circles beneath the eyes).
Pick Your Poison
Everyone has a favorite: a regular cocktail that is inexplicably them. However, some alcohol can have worse side effects to your health than you realize, so be careful when choosing. For example, researchers have found that beer is probably the worst of the alcoholic beverages when it comes to your skin. Because beer has more additives, it naturally is the most dehydrating. Beer also has the most salts and sugars, an all-around pretty bad mixture if you want glowing skin.
With research overwhelming that red wine can be drunk daily and that it is even good for you to do so, (ok, bring us the corkscrew) it’s easy to see that red wine is the least harmful, but it doesn’t mean drinking a ton of red wine is good for you either. Too much of a good thing is indeed a bad thing.
When it comes to hard alcohol, dark liquors will have worse side effects on your skin than lighter ones because they have more additives, but neither will be doing you any favors if you want a clearer complexion. Vodka is recommended as the liquor with the least negative aesthetic effects.
Minimizing Damage, Maximizing Better Skin
When it comes to finding a balance with drinking and clear skin, you should keep your body nourished as you drink to ensure that the effects won’t be as potent. Try to minimize the negative effects of alcohol consumption with hydration. For every alcoholic drink you consume, have a glass of water too. This way your body and skin stay hydrated enough not to break out or dry out.
It helps to eat while consuming a large quantity of alcohol also. Make sure your body has enough nutrients in order to process the damaging effects of alcohol.
What Should We Do?
Some experts would say that the best way to clear your skin significantly and long term would be to quit drinking altogether. That’s up to you! As long as you’re aware of the side effects, you may experience, and try your best to combat negative health outcomes, feel free to treat yourself every once in a while. But it’s never a bad idea to cut back for your skin’s sake.
How About Alcohol’s Partner in Beauty Crime?
Smoking is one of the worst habits you can pick up. Not only is it bad for your internal organs in the long run, but it also takes quite a toll on how you look. Where alcohol brings dehydration, smoking cuts off oxygen to your lungs and your skin. This makes for an increased risk of infections of the skin, (and much worse scarring) as well as an increased likelihood of cancer and wrinkles.
Due to all the chemicals that are in tobacco, cigarettes, and the smoke that you exhale, the skin absorbs these toxins through your pores and can cause irreparable damage. Because of the lack of oxygen and nutrients to the skin, you can end up with sagging skin and an uneven skin tone or coloring. And that’s not even worse case scenario.
Smoking Steals Your Antioxidants
Natural antioxidants in the body like vitamin C and E help to decrease reactivity from negative intruders, (like the toxins in cigarette smoke) but smoking also reduces your blood flow, blocking the way of antioxidants. Smoking depletes these natural antioxidants when you need them the most.
Smoking and Cancer
Most of us know that smoking is a significant catalyst for lung cancer, but smoking also increases your risk of skin cancer. The evidence? Apparently, the effects of UV sunlight are heightened around smoking, and the smoke that swirls around a smoker’s face again amplifies the risk of cancerous cells invading the skin.
Risks of not one but two cancers? It might be time to quit, for real this time.
What is comically and ironically called “the smoker’s pucker” is named for the constant sucking a smoker must do to inhale from a cigarette. This act, according to how long of a period you’ve been smoking, will cause wrinkles around the mouth that are irreversible. Squinting around the smoke that you exhale also causes crow’s feet wrinkles around the eyes. Decidedly not cool after all.
Smoking and Aging
We’ve heard from experts that smoking will age you more so than sunbathing. Smoking brings a myriad of chemicals, toxins and reduced oxygen in the body, which affects the skin hugely. Smoking can actually accelerate the aging process, which is the last thing you want to do to your body and complexion. Some longtime smokers tend to look upwards of 10 years older from all the havoc wreaked on their body in the time they’ve taken up the habit.
Aesthetically, smokers can also have a yellow tint to their skin, (smokers who smoke A LOT can see changes in the color of their fingertips, especially if they roll their cigarettes-- one obvious indication is if the fingertips or corners of them are yellow or even orange.) which is hard to reverse. Not to mention, as a smoker you risk sagging and dull looking skin from the lack of oxygen. Another very uncool side effect of a supposedly cool look.
Quit it and Reverse it
Not all hope is lost. If you quit smoking, you can repair some of the damage that has been done to your internal organs through your own body’s mechanisms of repair and regeneration. The longer you stay away from the cigs, the more your body can repair itself. The process isn’t wholly reversible, especially if you smoked for several years, but it’s worth a shot if your health is at stake. Research shows that for every decade you smoke, you age 14 years-- and that’s not just your skin, but your whole body.
Alcohol and cigarettes can be intoxicating, fun, and addicting, but too much of them can leave you with worse health problems than you anticipated. Use Act of Being men's skincare and your skin will thank you for it.