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How Drinking Affects Your Appearance

What Booze Is Doing to Your Looks

We're excited to present this article from Allure!

As much as we delight in sharing positive beauty news about alcohol on Daily Beauty Reporter—Red wine protects your teeth from cavities! Boozers tend to exercise more!—it's obvious that excessive drinking takes a toll on your appearance.

After my interview with Brooke Shields in Allure's April issue, I was inspired by something that she said: "When I drink too much alcohol, go on a few hours of sleep, don't eat well, and don't sweat, I look five to ten years older."

See, lately, I have found myself skipping the gym, sleeping terribly, and pouring a second (or third) glass too often—and I'm wearing it. To kick off an overall lifestyle cleanse, I decided to take a 30-day break from alcohol. Helping me stay away from my Maker's Mark, are these negative effects of overindulging. See the rest when you keep reading.

It makes eyes puffy. "Alcohol dilates the blood vessels and causes redistribution of fluid," says dermatologist Erin Gilbert of Gramercy Park Dermatology in New York City. "Your whole body is affected, but you tend to especially see the swelling in the thin skin of your eyelids and the skin under your eyes."

It gives you wrinkles. "Chronic drinkers look older than their peers because they've been chronically dehydrated," says Gilbert. "When you're dehydrated, you're not regenerating collagen as well, and lines in the skin tend to become deeper faster."

It dulls the skin. Dehydration is a big factor in this too, but another reason is that "after a night of drinking, you often don't stick to your normal skin-care routine," says Gilbert. "Not only are you not cleansing your skin properly, you probably haven't had water or consumed healthy fruits, or gotten enough sleep—all things that make us look healthy on a regular basis."

It worsens rosacea. As a vasodilator, alcohol "absolutely exacerbates rosacea and flushing," says Gilbert, adding that there's also a strong link between psoriasis and drinking that's still being studied.

It interrupts beauty sleep. Yes, falling asleep might be easier after a half-carafe of Tempranillo, but alcohol makes you "much more likely to wake up multiple times during the night," says Phyllis C. Zee, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern University in Chicago. A recent study performed by the University of Michigan found that drinking was more detrimental to women's sleep than men's, with women waking up more frequently during the night and getting fewer hours of sleep.

It sabotages diets. Stephen Gullo, a health psychologist and diet expert in New York City told Allure that more than two cocktails tends to stimulate your appetite, making you apt to pick at hors d'oeurves all night. To boot, the following morning, you're likely to grab a greasier-than-usual breakfast. "Alcohol is a highly acid-forming substance, so after a night of heavy drinking, your pH balance is out of whack," says health coach Jennifer Kass of Kass Health in New York City. "You crave the salty, fatty foods because your body is trying to create balance again—what you should be eating is super-alkalizing foods like leafy greens, but bacon and eggs will probably sound more appealing than a bowl of kale."

Of course, not everyone is game for (or even needs) an alcohol time-out, so if you plan on getting sloshed anyway, check out our tips on preventing and hiding the signs of a hangover.

More stories from Allure:
Do you feel beauty pressure?
How to get the hair cut (and color) you want

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