Keeping Skin Clear During Holiday Cheer
It’s December and the holiday parties are on! Who doesn’t enjoy a little liquid merriment during this festive time of year? So, before you head out to your next event, here are a few good things to know for keeping skin clear during the holiday season of cheer!
Alcohol and Your Body
Let’s start with some facts. As we all know, alcohol dehydrates the body. Alcohol is not only a diuretic, but it also hinders the production of the hormone vasopressin which helps you reabsorb water. As a result, after an evening of libations, your skin will look tired and sallow while fine lines, wrinkles, and pores appear more pronounced.
Alcohol also decreases the body’s reserve of Vitamin A which is a powerful antioxidant necessary for cell renewal and cell turnover. A lack of vitamin A can also make it harder for your skin to fight off free radicals, which affects the lipid layer (the moisture center) of your skin.
Alcohol also dilates blood vessels, sometimes a good thing for rosier cheeks but in some people, it triggers a histamine reaction causing redness or flushing of the skin. This is what makes existing skin conditions like psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea and urticaria (hives) flare-up.
Lastly, alcohol weakens the immune system. If you find yourself with a sore throat and a cold after a late night bender, this would be why.
Alcohol and Age
Many people notice as they get older that they cannot handle their alcohol as easily as they did when they were younger. The reason is that the transit time takes longer. Here’s how much of a difference a few years can make.
When you’re 20 years old and drink, that drink leaves your body in about three hours. When you’re 40 years old, it takes an average of 33 hours. If your transit time is three hours, that means you can drink on Monday and later that night; the alcohol is out of your body. If you’re 40 and you drink on Monday, that same drink won’t be out of your body until Wednesday! As a result, the more consecutive days of drinking you do, as you age, the longer it’ll take you to return to normal…and the longer it takes your skin to bounce back.
But it’s not all bad news for those of you who want to enjoy a tasty hot toddy, a warm mulled wine or a bubbly champagne. Some drinks are better than others for you and your skin.
How Different Drinks Affect Your Skin
Different alcohols affect you differently. Here’s why: congeners, sugar, salt, and resveratrol.
Congeners are the impurities found in dark liquors due to extra fermentation. They are responsible for the taste and smell of those types of alcoholic beverages. They are also responsible for most issues with skin as well as your hangovers. The higher the level of congeners, the worse your hangover and skin will look. Bourbon, for example, has 37 times as many congeners as vodka has.
Another ingredient that will affect how your skin bounces back is sugar. Most of those sugary mixed drinks can give you a “sugar hangover” on top of your regular hangover increasing the severity of sallow skin and bloodshot eyes. Sugar has been shown to trigger the hormone IGF-1, which causes an over-production of oil in your skin. That is why acne sufferers often get worse after eating/drinking sugar. Sugar will also spike your insulin levels, causing inflammation. And lastly, salt, often not as noticeable but just as high in many mixed drinks will typically lead to bloating and under-eye bags.
The last ingredient, resveratrol can either help or hurt your skin depending on your skin type. As we all know, resveratrol is found in red wine and is a beneficial anti-aging ingredient for those with no skin conditions. However, resveratrol will irritate sensitive skin and cause a histamine release in some people, leading to increased flushing and even more of a hangover.
Best Drink Strategies for Your Skin
So what’s a person to do? The good news is that your skin can regenerate and rehydrate. To maximize your holiday party enjoyment and your skin’s healthy glow, here are the best strategies to employ this season:
- Stick to clear liquors like vodka, gin, and tequila with no sugary mixers because they have minimal congeners, sugar, and salt. The best choice is a vodka that doesn’t have a grain in it (i.e., potato). The clearer and smoother the alcohol, the easier it gets in and out of your body.
- Drink plenty of water before, between drinks and afterward to increase/maintain hydration.
- Eat non-sweetened, low-salted proteins and fats with your drinks. This will slow the release of sugar and thus, minimize its negative impact.
- If you don’t have any skin issues, a glass of red wine is the best. However, no amount of resveratrol will combat the other aging effects of alcohol, so moderation will be your best friend!
I wish you and your families a Happy Holiday season! If you find yourself having any skin issues, email info@AmethystAcu.com to schedule a complimentary consultation.
About the Author:
Olivia Hsu Friedman is board certified in Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, and Western Biomedicine. She received her Diplomate in Oriental Medicine (Dipl.OM) from the National Certification Commission of Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and is a licensed Illinois acupuncturist. She earned a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM) from National University of Health Science, graduated Summa Cum Laude and was awarded the Joseph Janse Outstanding Graduate Award. Olivia completed four years of additional studies post-grad in order to be certified in Traditional Chinese Medicine Dermatology and Constitutional Facial Acupuncture.
When she is not in the office or the classroom, Olivia serves on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is also one of two Illinois delegates to the American Society of Acupuncturists. In her free time, you can find her enjoying photography, gourmet cooking, international travel, spending time in nature, and entertaining her family and friends.