Does Alcohol Cause Wrinkles? Here’s How Alcohol Affects Skin Aging

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Before we begin, let’s get one thing straight – the occasional drink every now and again isn’t going to do you too much harm. Sure, it may not be doing your body or skin any favors, but it’s also not going to cause any noticeable damage.

However, excessive drinking is a different story. One in eight Americans struggle with alcohol abuse [1], and while it’s common knowledge that any form of substance abuse can affect a person’s mental health and internal organs, how exactly does heavy drinking impact the skin?

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the many ways in which alcohol affects the aging process, along with the changes that you can expect to see in your skin if you stop drinking.

Table of Contents

Does Alcohol Make You Look Older? How Does Alcohol Age You? Here are the Effects of Alcohol on Skin and Aging

beautiful woman drinking

From high blood pressure to alcohol-related brain damage, the health effects of alcohol consumption are varied. When it comes to the skin, the same applies – drinking alcohol has been proven to accelerate the aging process in so many ways [2]. Here’s how:

Alcohol Consumption Leads to Dehydration

Whether it’s one drink or ten, each time you drink alcohol, you’re dehydrating your body. Alcohol restricts the body’s ability to produce vasopressin, a hormone responsible for water retention and hydration.

This is why frequent urination is one of the common side effects of drinking too much alcohol.

The way in which alcohol dehydrates your skin cells causes them to look dull and sallow.

Constant dehydration leads to a loss of firmness and elasticity – not only will your skin fail to synthesize its usual levels of collagen and elastin, but it won’t be able to produce enough hyaluronic acid either.

The initial result of this is premature wrinkles and lines. However, over time, your skin may start to produce more sebum as a way to overcompensate for dehydration, which could then lead to greasiness and breakouts.

Inflammation and Redness from Alcohol Consumption are Very Common

Drinking alcohol causes your blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow. Drink too much and those blood vessels can burst, with those broken capillaries resulting in spider veins and redness.

Regularly drinking excessive amounts causes your blood vessels to remain permanently dilated, which means that your skin tone will always look red and inflamed. Let’s not forget that inflammation also leads to premature aging, as it has negative effects on the protein fibers that hold your skin up from within.

troubled lady with red skin

Oxidative Stress Triggers Aging-Related Skin Changes

More than one study has pointed to how drinking alcoholic drinks enhance oxidative stress [3]. Simply put, this is when there’s an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in your body, which leaves those free radicals to run rampant and wreak havoc on your body’s cells.

A large part of this damage takes place in skin cells. Free radicals destroy the collagen fibers that give your skin its firmness and smoothness. The more free radical damage your skin is subjected to, the sooner in life you’ll notice wrinkles and loose skin, as well as a generally older-looking physical appearance.

Poor Sleep Quality Causes Puffiness, Dark Circles, and Skin Damage

While binge drinking may cause you to fall into a deep sleep at night, this isn’t the kind of sleep that your skin needs in order to maintain a youthful appearance. For this, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is essential. Also referred to as beauty sleep, this is the most restorative sleep stage and is when your skin cells are at their most active.

sleepy woman

However, heavy drinking prevents you from spending much time in the REM sleep stage. It may seem like you’re getting a good night’s sleep, but, over time, this will take its toll. Not only will the lack of quality sleep lead to problems with your skin, but it can also affect your brain cells too.

Does Beer Age You the Most or Does Drinking Wine Age You More? Here are the Drinks That Cause the Most Damage to the Health of the Skin on Your Face & Body

The effects of alcohol featured above hold true no matter the type of alcoholic beverage you choose to drink. That said, even when consumed in small quantities, some types of alcohol have much stronger aging effects than others.

young lady needs help

Sugar-laden cocktails are the worst since sugar raises the insulin levels in your body, which then triggers inflammation. And, as you already know, inflammation leads to accelerated aging.

White wine also has a surprisingly high sugar content, and while red wine may contain antioxidants, it’s also notorious for histamine release, which brings on redness and acne.

On the other end of the scale, tequila is considered to be the alcohol that’s kindest to the skin. This is because it’s very low in sugar. A light beer would also have minimal aging effects – although quite high in sugar, its alcohol content would be low.

Will My Wrinkles Fade When I Quit Drinking? Will I See a Noticeable Skin Improvement After Quitting Drinking? Here are the Before and After Results You Can Expect to Experience

So, if you were to decide to give up heavy drinking in favor of a sober life, what changes can you expect to see in your skin?

The good news is that the rewards are near-instant. About an hour after your last drink, your body will be working hard to clear the alcohol, along with the negative effects that it has on your skin, from your body. It will take about 24 hours for your skin to overcome the dehydration and inflammation that alcohol causes, although you may still notice a slight blotchy appearance, especially if you’ve been dealing with alcohol misuse.

woman looking at reflecton

After about a month, your skin will start to look much more even in tone and texture, while sporting a bouncy and hydrated finish. Heavy drinkers may also experience some weight loss, with this being more prominent in older adults compared to young people.

You can speed this process along by nurturing your skin with topical products that are hydrating and rich in antioxidants. If you experienced acne breakouts because of your alcohol use, make the most of anti-acne treatments to prevent permanent scarring.

Lower Your Risk of Skin & Health Problems by Seeking Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

It’s easy to see how alcohol and aging are so strongly linked – alcohol affects the aging process in numerous ways. Even worse, it damages the rest of your health too – from your organs to your immune system, alcohol doesn’t do your body any favors.

If you’ve been struggling to cut alcohol out of your life, it could be time to seek professional help. Not only will your skin start to look better, but your entire body will soon feel so much younger too.

FAQ

Q: Do wrinkles go away when you quit drinking?

Wrinkles don’t go away on their own after you quit drinking alcohol, although they’ll definitely be less noticeable. However, use wrinkle creams regularly and those wrinkles will soon fade away.

Q: Does alcohol make you age faster?

Yes, alcohol makes you age much faster than you otherwise would have.

Q: Can you reverse aging from alcohol?

Yes, aging from alcohol can be reversed to an extent.

Q: Does alcohol cause skin to wrinkle?

Yes, alcohol makes the skin age faster, which leads to premature wrinkles.

Q: Does alcohol cause inflammation in face?

Yes, one of the effects of alcohol on the skin is increased inflammation.

Q: What drink makes you look younger?

No alcoholic drink will make you look younger. The best thing to drink to maintain good skin condition is water or sugar-free herbal teas.

Q: How alcohol changes your face?

Alcohol affects the face in many ways – it causes wrinkles, inflammation, redness, dullness, and more.

Q: How long does it take to reverse years of drinking?

This depends on how much you used to drink, as well as how long you were drinking for. It can take anywhere between 1 to 5 years to reverse the effects of heavy drinking.

Q: How long after stopping drinking does skin improve?

Your skin should start to improve after a couple of days once you stop drinking alcohol.

flirty lady looking at mirror

Q: Can you look younger after quitting drinking?

Yes, if you quit drinking, your skin should start to look younger again.

Q: Can I drink collagen after drinking alcohol?

Yes, research suggests that collagen can help to reverse the liver damage caused by alcohol [4].

Q: Why does alcohol cause wrinkles?

Alcohol causes wrinkles because of how it dehydrates the skin, damages protein fibers, and increases oxidative stress.

Q: Where can I find alcohol and aging pictures that show the side effects of alcoholism?

There are plenty of organizations that help with alcohol abuse that have images online to show the skin effects of alcoholism.

Q: I’m going through an alcohol detox – acne is worse – why is this?

This could be because your skin is purging. Use topical products to soothe inflammation and acne while your skin heals.

Q: Is being an alcoholic aging? What does the skin of an alcoholic look like?

Yes, alcohol and aging are closely linked. Compared to someone who doesn’t drink, the skin of an alcoholic usually looks quite dry, dull, uneven, and loose.

Q: Does alcohol make you look younger?

No, alcohol doesn’t make you look younger. In fact, it does the opposite and ages the skin and body.

Conclusion: Does Alcohol Give You Wrinkles?

If you’re trying to avoid wrinkles as much as possible, then it’s time to pay more attention to your alcohol intake. Not only does alcohol accelerate the skin aging process, giving you fine lines and wrinkles at a much younger age, but it also causes dehydration, inflammation, puffiness, and dark circles, not to mention the many health conditions that alcohol consumption can trigger.

Giving up the drink may require a fair bit of effort on your part, but stick with it and your skin (as well as your body) will soon be thanking you!

References
[1] https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/10/health/drinking-alcoholism-study-trnd/index.html
[2] https://www.ndph.ox.ac.uk/news/genetic-study-provides-new-evidence-that-alcohol-accelerates-biological-aging
[3] https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm
[4] https://www.reidhealth.org/blog/what-are-the-benefits-of-collagen

Avatar for Alina Jumabhoy
About Alina Jumabhoy

With almost 10 years of experience writing for the skincare industry, Alina brings her unique perspective into all of the in-depth reviews and articles she writes.