Updated: Apr 1
Ahh alcohol! We love it but our skin? Not so much. Here are the many reasons alcohol and acne don't jive.
First, alcohol can be very disrupting to your hormones as it raises estrogen. If you don't know already, stress also raises estrogen which is part of the reason why so many women are suffering with estrogen dominance now a days. Sadly, estrogen dominance can cause hormonal acne in a lot of people especially when there isn't enough progesterone to balance the estrogen out. Trust me ladies- we don't need more estrogen!
This brings me to my next area of concern: the liver. I think it is pretty well known that frequent alcohol consumption is damaging to the liver since alcohol gets metabolized by the liver. We are exposed to so many toxins daily in which our liver has to filter so it's important to reduce its workload as much as possible. Remember, that our skin is a direct reflection of our detoxification organs and your liver is the main one. If you are experiencing acne- the first place I recommend is supporting your liver and then looking into gut health & potentially any lymph stagnation. Unfortunately, a sluggish liver can lead to hormone imbalances because its role is to regulate the balance of sex hormones and package up excess hormones like estrogen so your gut can remove them & prevent them from re-circulating. A sluggish liver can also cause blood sugar dysregulation as its our bodies glucose reservoir making sure blood sugar levels are steady and constant. These are all common culprits of acne.
Now your liver is not the only concern when it comes to blood sugar dysregulation. Alcohol consumption actually directly increases blood sugar and we all know what happens after that. A DROP in blood sugar. This puts you on that nasty blood sugar rollercoaster I always talk about which causes mood swings, energy dips, weight gain, hormone imbalances and inflammation. And of course, whenever there is inflammation, there is acne. It's even worse when people start consuming sugary cocktails cause your blood sugar gets hit twice as hard. Let's be honest, it's not good quality sugar being paired with a protein or fat. Why do you think everyone craves fatty/greasy fast food after a night of binge drinking? Your body is literally craving some sort of stability to balance out your blood sugar.
The Impact of Alcohol on Your Gut
Your gut also takes a hit as frequent alcohol consumption directly impairs the intestinal barrier and gut microbiota causing an increased amount of inflammatory cytokines and endotoxins directly impacting the liver and causing acne. Alcohol has been linked to conditions like leaky gut because it opens the tight junctions of your intestinal barrier making it more permeable. This means your physical defence mechanism against pathogens is non existent and now large food particles can cross the gut lining and enter your blood stream stimulating an immune response. This is how food sensitivities and autoimmune disorders develop. This can also lead to bacterial overgrowth and dysbiosis of the gut microbiome. Your skin microbiome is a direct reflection of your gut microbiome. If you are acne prone and don't take care of your gut- your skin will continue to suffer. We all tolerate alcohol in different ways due to our microbiome. There is certain bacteria in our gut that can actually help metabolize alcohol but some of us have less of that bacteria meaning we can't detoxify alcohol well. This is why I always preach about eating a diverse range of foods to ensure you are getting a variety of prebiotic's to feed different bacteria. I've also seen excessive alcohol consumption inhibit the production of enzymes that you need to breakdown and digest your food. This is the number one cause for bloating, gas and loose stools.
I also want to bring to your attention that alcohol is very dehydrating as it is a diuretic which means it will dehydrate your skin too. This can dysregulate sebum production as it drys out your skin barrier and leaves it inflamed. Generally speaking, adequate water consumption does help remove toxins from the body and flush out anything your skin doesn't want to deal with. Hydration is very important for acne sufferers but it's hard to adequately hydrate your cells if you are consistently drinking a diuretic. Especially because you don't want to go overboard with water to the point where you flush away all your mineral stores.
What Nutrients Does Alcohol Deplete?
And lastly, we can't forget about the nutrients alcohol depletes. It is well known to heavily deplete B vitamins because they're directly involved in alcohol metabolism. However, it also depletes other key skin loving nutrients like potassium, zinc, selenium, vitamin C and magnesium. I touch on why some of these are so important for skin health on my website under the acne page.
Now I totally understand that many of us are not willing to ditch alcohol completely (me included). So in order to minimize post drinking acne flare ups, it's important to adequately replenish these nutrients. I always make sure to take Energi+ by LifeBlud in my shop the next morning which is a properly formulated bioactive B Complex. Next up would be the MitoLife Oyster Extract for zinc and selenium as well as their Resilien-C - all in my shop with discount codes. This should adequately replenish most of the nutrients lost so your skin doesn't suffer but I also would recommend drinking a litre of water before bed that has a good amount of magnesium bicarbonate added to it (Balance by Lifeblud in my shop). This will not only adequately hydrate you so you wake up hangover free but will also help replenish magnesium stores and support your liver. Another tool to give your liver an extra hand before you hit the bed would be to take a scoop of CellCore's carboxy binder in some water as this will bind to toxins and mop them up so they can easily be excreted. Patient access code is in my shop.
This blog is not meant to demonize alcohol. I think it can totally be part of a healthy lifestyle when used occasionally in social settings. The problem is when people start to use and abuse alcohol as a way to cope with their emotions and trauma. If you notice yourself relying on alcohol for happiness, it is worth talking to a professional and considering quitting.
What Are The Least Damaging Types of Alcohol
After taking all of these factors into consideration, I have developed a list of least damaging to most damaging types of alcohol so you can enjoy wisely:
5. Other unsweetened spirits
6. Dry Organic Cider
7. Dry Organic Champagne
8. Dry Organic White Wine
10. Coloured, sweetened spirits
11. Red Wine even if organic
12. Beer and Lager
If you are on an acne healing journey- rather than taking the fun out of your social life entirely, try enjoying a couple drinks here and there from the top of the list and utilizing some of the strategies I mentioned above to minimize damage.
Happy Holidays xx