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how alcohol affects skin

How Quitting Alcohol for 30 Days Improved My Skin

What happens to your skin when you stop drinking? For one writer, quitting alcohol for a month was the secret to improving skin concerns like breakouts and an uneven complexion. Below, she shares her experience.

While beauty products with specific ingredients can help improve the quality of your skin, it is undoubtedly true that general wellness comes from within. So, outside of other health complications, if you’re eating well, and drinking enough water, and your skin is still less than glowing, what could be the problem?

I decided to embark on a sober experiment just before Thanksgiving this year: no alcohol for thirty days. Depending on your relationship with alcohol, that might seem like no sweat or a very, very long time. Most importantly, I wanted to reevaluate how I use alcohol. But I had also read that one added bonus of abstaining from booze is that your skin looks incredible.

Well guess what? It’s true; just seven days teetotaling, my skin looked amazing.

As a fair-toned person, inflammation, breakouts or scarring really shows on my face. Here I was, about to book a laser appointment and planning a retinol regimen, when really all I needed to do was drink less alcohol.

As far as your skin goes, the reason why alcohol is bad for it is because alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more. All the liquid you consume, even if it’s in a mixed drink with lots of water (say, a gin and soda) or a beer, which is made up of 96% water, that remaining percentage of alcohol causes you to pee out all the water you’ve just consumed and then some, making you dehydrated.

RELATED: How Eating Clean Improved My Acne-Prone Skin

In order to prevent dehydration, you’d have to drink one to two pints of water in between drinks. How many times have you planned to alternate between a drink and a huge glass of water and just, plainly not done it?

 If you are dehydrated your skin is dehydrated. This causes problems like redness, inflammation, breakouts, dark circles under your eyes, and certainly, wrinkles. And if you suffer from eczema or cystic acne or any other skin ailments, alcohol will only exacerbate these problems. People of Asian descent, may notice that their face gets especially red and flushed after drinking alcohol. This is most likely because of an inherited deficiency in the enzyme used to break down alcohol.

Alcohol also destroys your natural sleep cycle. If you’re tossing and turning all night, or getting up to get a glass of water, or if those drinks have triggered your acid reflux, you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. Rest is important for skin as it needs the time to repair itself. Plus, when you’re tired and hungover you won’t make the best choices about your skin care (falling asleep in full makeup) or your diet the next day (yes I’ll take the loaded cheese fries, thanks).

It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on products or how dedicated you are to your skin care routine, if you’re drinking too much alcohol your skin will suffer. In fact, nearly every sector of the mind-bond connection is affected by alcohol. (How much is too much? Well, the CDC defines moderate drinking as one drink per day for women, and two for men. That means eight or more drinks per week for women and fifteen or more for men is considered “heavy drinking.”)

After thirty days sober, I learned so much about myself, my relationship to alcohol, and the socialization and consumption of alcohol around me. And as a bonus, my skin was glowing.

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