Hangovers Can Wreck Your Skin... Here's How To Prevent The Damage

What Hangovers Are Really Doing To Your Skin

Headaches, nausea, the intense to desire to wear sunglasses indoors and talk to no one -- the effects of hangovers are strong and sucky. Another negative effect: bad skin.

"Alcohol is a notorious dehydrator, and many of your hangover symptoms are a direct result to a lack of fluids, including your skin's appearance," Dr. Ariel Ostad, a New York-based dermatologist, told HuffPost Style. "The dehydration associated with hangovers can make skin appear dull, dry and puffy."

In addition to dehydrating, alcohol is a hepatotoxin, meaning it damages the liver. "One way to look at it," Dr. Colbert, founder of New York Dermatology Group, told HuffPost Style in a previous interview, "is to ask: What does someone look like who is dying of liver failure? They're sallow, they're pasty, they're cold, their pores are huge."

Great. So when we wake up with a pounding hangover headache, there's a good chance our skin is dry, puffy and red, plus our pores are enlarged. So what's a skincare-conscious person to do?

Before you start drinking...

Load up on food. Yes, the whole "absorbing the alcohol" thing is true, says Dr. Ostad. But pick good food: "Fill your stomach with a healthy meal of starches and essential vitamins and minerals."

Drink water. "It is important to make sure that you are fully hydrated before beginning to drink alcohol," Dr. Ostad told us. It won't necessarily prevent a hangover entirely, as dehydration isn't proven to be the main cause of hangovers. But alcohol is a diuretic, meaning all the extra hydration you can get helps.

hangover skin

While you are drinking...

Drink more water. Alternate your cocktails with glasses of water to limit your dehydration.

Choose alcoholic drinks with fewer congeners. Congen-wha? Congeners are chemical substances produced during the fermentation process that give liquors their unique flavors and smells. Studies have shown that congeners, in addition to the ethanol in alcohol, can also contribute to hangovers, which means drinks with more congeners (red wine, whiskey, brandy) often result in a worse hangover than drinks with fewer congeners (white wine, vodka). Order drinks with fewer congeners, and you may prevent a more serious hangover.


Before you go to bed...

Drink even more water! Rehydrate your skin with the best stuff on Earth.

Wash your face with gentle cleanser. Dr. Colbert recommends the Balance Purifying Cleanser because it contains retinol, an anti-aging ingredient, as well as chamomile extract to smooth your reddened, inflamed skin. Dr. Ostad is a fan of G.M. Collin Hydramucine Cleansing Milk. "It doubles as a makeup remover," he told us, "and also improves the water circulation of skin."

Take off your makeup! As derm Dr. Eric Schweiger once told us, "Sleeping in your makeup can result in unnecessary exposure to the free radicals in the environment, which the makeup holds on to." Free radicals cause collagen breakdown, which leads to aging skin, i.e. wrinkles and sagging.

Apply a soothing moisturizer or serum. This will rehydrate your skin and help sooth inflammation. Dr. Colbert's Heal & Soothe Night cream features soothing shea nut butter; products with ceramides also help lock in moisture.

makeup remover

When you wake up the next morning...

Exfoliate. Dr. Colbert recommends giving your skin a good yet gentle scrub. "Exfoliate off sallow, alcohol-damaged skin cells," he told us, recommending his Intensify Facial Discs that include the ingredient bromelain, a pineapple enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties. We're also partial to this natural face mask made of brown sugar, honey and lemon.

Reenergize your skin. "Decleor's Flash Radiance Mask combats skin fatigue and restores radiance in three minutes," says Dr. Ostad. The magic ingredients include elemi essential oil as well as fruit AHA complex, which is said to improve skin's texture.


Here are some other tactics that might help:

Eating Some Asparagus

Hangover Cures: Do They Work?

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