Fact Or Fiction: Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Acne?

alcohol and acne

It’s summer time, and it’s highly likely that we are all indulging in extra glasses of our favorite alcoholic beverages. Besides making us sluggish the next morning, could alcohol be the reason behind the extra pimples that have popped up this summer? Could there really be a link between alcohol and acne?

In addition, sunscreen, salt water, and prolonged exposure to the sun are all possible reasons why our skin may become out of whack this summer, but can alcohol be making it worse? If so, is there one type of alcoholic drink that will cause the least amount of damage?

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According to The Huffington Post, Dr. Debra Jaliman, says “‘All alcohol dehydrates the skin.’ This means your skin will appear less plump and fresh the next morning.” It’s no secret that the day after drinking our skin doesn’t look its best; but, is it true that extra drinks can cause acne? The Huffington Post explains that “what makes the skin effects of one alcoholic drink different from the next is what else is in the drink,” meaning, not all alcoholic drinks will produce the same effects to our skin. Drinks that contain high sugar or salt contents—like margaritas—are worse for skin when compared to clear liquors—like vodka; however, mixing vodka with a sugary soda (instead of club) will yield the same results.

While there is no research that firmly links alcohol with acne, some researchers do believe that alcohol can have a negative effect on skin. On a skincare website, Exposed Skin Care, it is explained that “Alcohol will change your hormone levels, and one direct cause of acne is an imbalance in testosterone or estrogen levels,” which can lead to acne. For those of us who are “social drinkers,” meaning we only tend to drink in moderation in social settings, it is unlikely that alcohol will cause enough change in our hormone levels to create a skin issue.

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An article written by Nicholas Emanuele, M.D., and Mary Ann Emanuele, M.D, published in Alcohol Health & Research World, explains the effects that alcohol has on the hormonal system. A 1993 study researched the effects that alcohol has on the reproductive cycle of woman who were heavy, moderate, or occasional drinkers. The study found that the woman who were heavy drinkers “had significant problems, including delayed ovulation and failure to ovulate […meanwhile…] Menstrual problems did not appear to occur in the women who were occasional […] or moderate drinkers consuming fewer than two drinks per day,” Alcohol Health & Research World states. While further research needs to be done to fully understand the link between hormones and drinking, it is likely that if you are an otherwise healthy person who consumes a few drinks in social settings, alcohol will not affect your hormones enough to severely change your skin.

Verdict: False. In moderate consumption, alcohol alone does not cause acne. Exposed Skin Care points out that “people often drink to help deal with stress [and] stress is also likely to affect your hormones so the combination of two could lead to problems.” Remember, our bodies will each react differently to alcohol, and so will our skin. To get your skin looking its best this summer, limit yourself to only one or two drinks once in a while, and speak with your dermatologist about the best ways to keep skin healthy.

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Do you find that alcohol affects your acne?


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