Who doesn’t like to indulge in bottomless mimosas at Sunday brunch, or have a nice glass (or two or three) of Pinot Noir with dinner? I know I do. But knowing what I know about the effects of alcohol on the skin, I keep my teetotaling to a minimum. And especially since I’m older, I need to do my best for my skin, which includes what I eat and drink.

Here’s what happens to your skin when you drink.

  1. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it rids your body of water. (This is also why, when you drink, you’re in the bathroom multiple times in an hour.) This is bad news for skin. Dehydration leads to dry, dull skin that has enlarged pores and seemingly deeper lines and wrinkles.
  2. Alcohol decreases your body’s Vitamin A levels. Vitamin A is a vital antioxidant that helps fight free-radical damage as well as bolster skin cell turnover to give your skin a bright glow.
  3. It can lead to redness. You know why some people get flushed when they drink? It’s because alcohol dilates your skin’s blood vessels, leading to redness, puffiness, and sometimes even facial spider veins.
  4. A lot of drinks are made with loads of salt and sugar. Excess salt leads to puffiness and under eye bags, and excess sugar contributes to a process called glycation, which forms advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These weaken collagen and elastin (the proteins responsible for keeping skin tight and firm) leading to wrinkles, dullness and sagging skin. Plus, they reduce your skin’s ability to fight free-radical damage. And if that isn’t bad enough, sugar triggers a hormone signals the skin to over-produce oil, disrupting the natural moisture balance.

This doesn’t mean that you should live an ascetic life of no alcohol at all, but it does mean you should limit your alcohol and choose wine over sugary mixed drinks, so say cheers to good skin!