If you’re partial to a prosecco or need a glass of red with your dinner every night, the thought of no alcohol for an entire month probably seems impossible. Hell, I’m craving a vino just from writing this sentence.
But if there was ever a time to give alcohol abstinence a crack, ‘Go Sober for October’ is the ideal opportunity. And if you need any more convincing, your lack of liquor will also see a huge improvement to your skin…
The devastating effects drinking has on the skin
Alcohol is metabolised into an acetaldehyde compound by the body, which makes all the bodies blood vessels relax. Sounds idlylic, but it definitely doesn’t look it, according to Dr Imogen Bexfield, founder and medical director at White Swan Aesthetics.
“It causes the skin to flush red and also for the blood pressure to be unbalanced. The blood vessels can over-stretch and leave unsightly spider veins and also cause the face and body to be puffy.”
Chances are you’re already aware of the dehydrating effects alcohol, thanks to the desert-dry mouth that wakes you up at 3 am as you gasp and blindly reach for your water bottle. “This is because it is a diuretic, so you will lose more water than normal by going to the toilet more frequently. As a result, your skin will appear duller and fine lines and wrinkles will be more visible.”
And if that isn’t already enough to sway you to stop swigging from the bottle, Imogen says: “Alcohol also reduces your vitamin A levels, which is a powerful antioxidant and also has a key role in the production of collagen. As we age, we lose collagen and elastin, which causes the face to ‘sag’ and so alcohol is speeding up the ageing process of the skin.”
Plus if white wine and cocktails are your drinks of choice, you’re also consuming a sh*t tonne of sugar, which means your more likely to suffer breakouts.
How long to quit the drink for better skin
The good news is that if you’re planning to quit the drink for October, there’s a high chance you’ll be able to see an improvement.
“It takes approximately 28 days for your skin to renew itself”, says Imogen. “This process varies from person to person and is age dependent, so to see a difference in the condition of your skin you would need to give up drinking for at least a month to see an improvement.”
After this time, your skin should feel more hydrated, and plumper – and it’s also likely that you will have more of a ‘glow’ and healthier complexion.
What to do if you truly can’t give up
No alcohol for the rest of your life would be the best way to keep your skin in top condition, but if this is completely unrealistic (preach) there are a few things you can do to at least minimalise the effects of your merlot.
“As a general rule, try to stick to the clear liquors without extra sugar or preservatives as the body can get rid of these much quicker”, says Imogen. “The sugar in cocktails can spike insulin levels which causes numerous negative effects and can make the skin lifeless and pale.”
Ideally, you want to consume no more than 1-2 units per day, and of course, water, water, water. One between every drink and two before bed on a boozy night if you can manage it.
Imogen also offers this excellent advice for the morning after, “have a cold, refreshing shower to help wake you up, and reduce puffiness and swelling.”
This will get the blood flowing around the body and help wash away some of the toxins that have accumulated in your system.