Why giving up alcohol was the best thing I ever did for my skin…

I admit, I have never had problematic skin. It is pretty robust, can handle most ingredients, and thanks to my naturally olive skin it always has a bit of a natural glow. However, as I hit my mid-thirties, I noticed it was looking lacklustre and the cracks - aka fine lines and wrinkles - were starting to deepen. I also noticed that no matter how much sleep I managed to get, although with two young children it wasn’t a great deal, my eye bags were darkening.

This is a common issue for those with olive skin due to the increase melanin in the skin – making them appear more prominent. I tried switching up my products, sleeping on a silk pillow, drinking more water and adding a colour corrector under my concealer.

Could it be the drink?

By coincidence at the same time as I started to struggle with the face looking back at me in the mirror, I decided to give up alcohol. It started as a bit of a conscious decision mid-way through the first lockdown, at the time it was common to think a glass or two of wine on a Tuesday was not only justified it was needed, when I realised socially drinking had been replaced with sitting at home alone, drinking out of boredom. Something I didn’t feel that comfortable with.

Those first few weeks of lockdown I also found I was experiencing anxiety in the mornings – a hangover coupled with a pandemic was not a very good mix and I realised this was amplified after a couple of drinks the night before.

I appreciate it was pretty easy for me to ditch the drink. I had at one time been quite a heavy drinker and party girl, but those days had long gone and prior to lockdown I had gone many weeks without alcohol with very little effort or thought.

The changes started to appear

It didn’t happen overnight, but within a few weeks I definitely noticed the eye bags reducing. I also noticed my skin looked plumper and had its ‘glow’ back. The morning anxiety has also disappeared and I had a lot more energy.

My make-up was lasting longer too – as my skin was no longer dehydrated – and it didn’t feel parched by the evening.

After a few months I realised I also wasn’t experiencing hormonal spots, my periods had often caused a short burst of spots on my chin and nose but since I had given up alcohol, I was hardly noticing my period on my face.

What the experts say

I started to investigate, could the lifestyle change be the reason my skin was looking and feeling better? According to professor Nick Lowe from the British Skin Foundation it could well be.

“The excess sugars you’re consuming – especially with beer and wine – damages the DNA and collagen in the skin which can lead to more rapid ageing,” says Nick.

Nick goes on to explain why I had seen a reduction in hormonal spots too. “Alcohol can make people stressed and anxious and this stress produces the androgen hormones that stimulate acne.”

It can also cause redness and inflammation according to Nick, this can be temporary and occur only at the time of drinking. However, long term excess alcohol can cause your capillaries under the skin to burst and leave your skin with redness or rosacea.

Less drink = better skin

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not tee total. If I’m going out for dinner or it is a special occasion I will drink alcohol, but now I do it consciously. I think about each drink and weigh up the pros and cons. This is a big step from someone who would run to the bar as last orders were called to ensure I got one for the road. Or would drink a glass of champers at a work event without even factoring it into my day.

I rarely drink at home and avoid buying alcohol to ensure there is no temptation when I am bored. It has also taught me to find other tools when I am stressed, such as reading a book, meditation, or just binging on some mindless reality TV series.

My anxiety and my skin have definitely seen an improvement and I can’t see myself ever going back to drinking the same way as I have done previously.

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