The Grooming Manual
If you’re up on your skincare game, you might already know that alcohol is a major no-no for clear and glowing skin -- especially in large quantities. Why? It’s dehydrating, congesting, and it can cause major redness and irritation over time.
Since these concerns are cumulative, you might not even realize that your skin is going to get irritated until you’re dealing with major symptoms.
That said, not all alcohols act the same, and certain drinks or alcohol varieties are much worse for your skin than others. Here’s our “dirty drink dozen” and what makes them bad for your skin.
How Alcohol Can Damage Your Skin
We hate to break it to you, but alcohol can be pretty brutal on the skin. It can cause:
Inflammation, associated redness, burst capillaries - yikes.
Dehydration, tightness, flaking, and dullness.
Insulin spikes, which can cause inflammation and acne flares.
- Increased stress hormones, which worsen inflammation and acne.
In short, it can leave you red, dry, and broken out -- and that’s pretty much what your entire skincare routine is designed to avoid.
Top 10 Alcoholic Drinks, Ranked from Worst to Best for Your Skin
10. Mixed Drinks
Mojitos, margaritas, jack and cokes, vodka red bulls -- they’re all as bad as it gets for your skin. First, they’re loaded with sugar, which can cause systemic inflammation, wrinkles, spiked inflammation levels, and acne.
They also come with excessive carbohydrates -- and drinks like margaritas are high in sodium. Translation? Weight gain, puffiness, and long-term aging effects. Deep trouble.
9. Red Wine
You might think that, with all its antioxidants and heart healthy benefits, red wine would be higher on the list. But it’s pretty bad news. Why? Red wine is:
- A vasodilator, meaning that it opens blood vessels and leads to increased redness in the skin.
- A trigger for histamine release - the stuff that causes allergic reactions. Translation? More redness. More inflammation. More acne. It’s particularly bad if you’re prone to eczema or rosacea.
- Full of sulfites, which are known to cause skin irritation.
Bottom line: don’t fall for the claim that red wine is good for you. It’s not the worst for your overall health, but it’s certainly not doing your skin any favors.
8. White Wine
While it’s not quite as bad as red wine, white wine still isn’t great for your skin. For one, it’s high in sugar, which translates to inflammation and broader cellular aging. It’s also packed with sulfites. They enhance its flavor but trigger redness and irritation. And, it doesn’t have the resveratrol or antioxidants that you’d find in red wine -- a.k.a: no redeeming qualities.
Canned mixed drinks or vodka sodas are not the worst -- if they’re not packed with sugar. The key is to look for a clear liquor with as few additives or added sugars as possible.
If you make your own, you can control the ingredients. But if you're shopping for a canned drink, check the ingredients before you buy.
6. Dark Liquor
Pure liquor is always going to be better than mixed drinks because it doesn’t have many sugars or additives. That said, dark liquors -- like rum, whiskey, and dark tequila-- are a little bit worse for you than their clear counterparts. Why?
These liquors contain congeners, chemicals that are either naturally occurring or get added during the aging process. These can contribute to early signs of aging and make hangovers worse (which is why the rule of thumb is to stick to clearer liquors).
5. Jell-O Shots
Surprised to see these so high on the list? Well, think about it. Clear and distilled spirits are not too bad for your skin, and gelatin is packed with good-for-your skin minerals, protein, and collagen. So these little guys might actually do your skin some good -- especially in moderation.
This may come as a surprise. Despite the fact that it’s carb-heavy, beer is high in antioxidants and other anti-aging compounds. What’s more, the yeast and hops in beer can actually soothe the skin and quell puffiness.
Just try not to drink too many -- it’ll still leave you tightly bloated.
2 + 3 (it's a tie). Gin and Vodka
Clear spirits like gin and vodka are free of those pesky congeners, meaning they’re far less likely to cause a hangover. Plus, they don’t have any of the other usual suspects like sugar or salt. In short, your body will likely metabolize them quickly -- and you won’t see too many negative repercussions.
One tequila, two tequila, three tequila… better skin?
Tequila has far less sugar than most other liquors, which means less acne, inflammation, and broader cell damage to your skin after a long night of drinks. Plus, it’s the only liquor on the list that can also claim some health benefits, including lowering blood sugar and decreasing bloating.
Just be sure to skip the salt (and stick to the clearer varieties).