Is alcohol bad for the skin?

There is a lot of talk regarding is alcohol bad for the skin? To be honest I come at it from the point of view of my liver which is a slight sideways approach to looking for skin care but when I discovered I had liver disease it made me check everything and anything.

However, I soon got interested in how much alcohol in skin care?

Probably a wise move. As I was just a social wine drinker but suddenly realized that even that could have killed me.

And no I am not saying alcohol is the big bad wolf here but I also know awareness is good so I became obsessed by researching it.

Now here is the thing once you start looking at alcohol it is more complicated than when you first think about from medical to our food to of course alcohol drinks.

wheat is in everything

It’s a bit like giving up wheat when you start looking for it you find out that it is in everything and I mean everything. Go around a shopping food mall or supermarket and start looking at the ingredients and see if wheat is listed.

When I did it kind of shocked me and going wheat free at the time ended up being harder than I first imagined

It’s the same with alcohol! But as ever it’s a bit more complicated than that so let’s start with the easy bit.

The news about alcohol and skin is not great! Let’s find out.

Alcoholic drinks aren’t good for the skin!

Guess what have you ever heard of “wine eyes”?

Actually it’s what some dermatologists or beauty therapists call it when their clients drink a lot. And it seems it’s not just the alcohol, it’s also the sugar and the impact that has on our systems!

Wine Alcohol and The Skin

It causes a massive effect on how we look and I have to say since giving up wine well at least the alcohol side of things I have noticed that my ski is in a better place overall.

What is the main reason? We are mainly made up of water, in fact 60% and if you take certain organs like the brain and heart you get up to over the 80 per cent range.

It is why I often talk about the importance of drinking water here

We all know that alcohol isn’t great and overindulgence can cause liver issues and all sorts of medical issues but it’s also a great night out which is proven to help our mental health albeit short term.

Long term it can severely increase our anxiety levels.

A hangover means one thing. We have over indulged and we are really dehydrated and our chemical reactions in our body is all over the place.

It is one of the reasons we should eat before drinking, not afterwards! Its a buffer for all that alcohol hitting our system.

Hangovers are not good for your skins

The hair of the dog is a bit of a myth. Always know your limit with alcohol and the drinkaware website can help

Most leading skincare and dermatology however all agree that excessive drinking of alcohol can have a massive impact on our skins both its dryness and youthfulness.

It can lead to

  • Long term inflammation,
  • Stubborn redness that won’t go away
  • Broken capillaries which are part of our blood transport network appearing in our skin
  • And of course those wine eyes and by that I think they mean those bags under the eyes!

The main reason our skin look less than healthy after a skinful is of course alcohol totally dehydrates the body. So it tightens up the skin and leaves us looking like an old-fashioned tea towel not worth wearing!

It can also lead to puffiness and not just around the eyes either because basically the body is retaining fluid, a common side of dehydration bizarrely.



Puffy Eyes


The other issue I get asked about is this. Are alcoholic free drinks sugar and calorie free?

Now some alcohol free gin or spirits with a low calorie mixer is a great alternative but even some of the beers and wine do have sugar content albeit at a lower amount.

My review of alcohol free gin that I think is the best on the market is here.

So if you are piling up the sugar our insulin levels increase which cause our system to promote what they call inflammation of the skin. We can probably feel it as well as see it.

Now if you are drinking alcohol as well we almost double the issue if you see what I mean. Sugar and alcohol is not a great mix when it comes to skin care!

This is also not good for a range of conditions including acne and psoriasis.

I review my top choices of alcoholic free beers here.

Alcohol and Skin Care is confusing

Now I just don’t touch alcohol and skincare even as a man. I was asked why I used moisturizer, and I was like which century you are living in. Skin care is important.

From soap to sun cream, it is amazing how much alcohol is in these products and I am sure there is a good reason for it. However, I have recently gone looking for more natural based products without any compromise and I have to say I look and feel better for it!

men and skin care

When you really start checking the ingredients on things a whole new world opens up.

The ingredients we are avoiding seem to be in everything but choice is increasing and yes you can even get alcohol free hand sanitizer now and that ‘s a great step forward.

I do realize alcohol plays a role in sterilization but that doesn’t mean we should never question it at all!

Misleading info on alcohol

There is so much alcohol in products out there its no wonder we get confused. Although I was pleased that a dentist got in contact with me to say I was right that we need do not need alcohol in mouthwash to have good dental hygiene.

I actually did a little happy dance. Coughs!

But alcohol in skin care, it’s minefield and I have now checked with so many dermatologists and skin care experts that I think I have the low down.

However, they all agree on one thing which is based on research.

If alcohol is a main ingredient in skin care products’ then it’s not really good news. See I knew I was right!

But first we need to clarify what kind of alcohol we want to avoid.

Many experts and I take their point, say that there is some debate about good and bad alcohol in skin care and I guess we need to take even more advice or just avoid it altogether using the best natural products.

Well at least that’s what I do !

The bad alcohol is often referred to as the so called drying alcohol and I had heard it be called that before.

So if you pick some up some skin or face cream ( and yes this includes men ) you look out for we’re referring to as a “drying type” of alcohol that you’ll most often see listed on an ingredients label as:

SD alcohol

Now here comes the scary bit. So called SD alcohol is actually called “specially denatured” alcohol. Now you will have heard of ethanol and it is the same stuff that is in your alcohol drink.

But they add a denaturant to make it taste horrible. Of course alcohol is highly taxed in many countries so you get the idea pretty quickly.

Its not drinkable!!

deodorant spray and alcohol

Another one I see this on certain deodorants is what is known as “denatured alcohol”, or sometimes “isopropyl alcohol”.

I have no idea how anyone thinks we are going to know what any of this means !

So let me help.

These types of alcohol are used in cream because they allow the cream to dry really quickly which is convenient and may help the cream feel be a little less greasy but that is where the advantages end really.

It’s a short term marketing fix!


skin care and alcohol

There is no doubt that if you see those labels or do what I do and ask ( you should see the servers face its picture ) it is going to be detrimental to your skin and outweigh any of the short term benefits.

They irritate the skin and make any skin condition that you may have worse. I know from personal experience as my partner has one of these conditions so we have to be careful on both counts.

If you are not careful you could be bathing in alcohol!

Bath Foams and Alcohol

It creates dryness, the effect on the ecosystem of the skin from alcohol isn’t good and it just puts it under a strain that it does not need.

This is especially true if you have a skin condition.

The conclusion seems to be that it is just the weakens the skin. Hardly helpful in keeping our youthful looks at any age!

My choice for natural skincare is below. I have now brought three tubs of it and it’s small so use carefully but my skin feels great. You will also want to think about sun protection however if you test this out.

My affiliate link is below and you pay the same. It’s an ethical company who really care about the ingredients they put in their products.

I really respect them and it’s a fair price given the quality.



Now for the debate about good alcohol in skincare!

Although I am still a bit dubious but if you dig deeper, skin experts seem to say other alcohols are passable with care.

I guess it’s like good fat and bad fats right?

We have all heard of the med diet and olive oil?

So these are known as so-called fatty alcohols and can be non-irritating for the skin but of course given its alcohol you still have to make a call. But let’s explore more.

So as I always do with alcohol including drinks let’s go back to the ingredients on the label. You might have come across these before and again I have seen them often on alcohol free deodorant.

Look out for :

  • Cetyl
  • Stearyl
  • Cetearyl alcohol

Now according to many experts, these are OK for out skin and help the cream remain stable. So they are often classed as skin friendly although I am still wary of using them on a regular basis.

However, I do totally accept there are different forms of alcohol.

When you dig deeper though it seems this type of alcohol is there to help the absorption of other ingredients such as vitamin D and C as well as retinol.

Vitamin C and D and Alcohol

For skincare products’ retinol has been used over the years and really shouted about by skin care makers and I guess with good reason.

It’s technically an overarching word for what is called a vitamin A substance but it’s also just known as a retinoid. ,

They work by increasing the collagen production as well as ensuring the turnover of your skin making sure it regenerates at the preferred high optimal amount.

It can also be used in the treatment of skin problems but I can never work out if this is a natural way of doing things or not.

Wrinkles and Alcohol

Certainly my totally alcohol free and natural product choice does not have these things in.

I suppose it all down to how far we want to go to reduce the signs of wrinkles.

Whichever way you look at it alcohol ain’t great for the skin

Any dermatologist worth his or her weight in gold say alcohol is not great for skins care. There is a trade off of course and if alcohol is not an issue then guess that are some great creams out there that claim to work wonders.

The downside though is not a great story so yep compromise is key if you are happy to have alcohol in these products. Remember though:

Alcohol :

  • Harms your the surface of your skin
  • Can irritate other skins conditions
  • Can dehydrate the skin

So for me it’s up there with aging rather than anti aging but I can see the value in the protective benefits as far as the product itself and it helps with those other ingredients which do help our skins health.

I always come back to the point that in our drinks, face creams, bath gels and mouth washes whichever way we look at it alcohol is a poison so maybe that’s my liver talking but I believe it’s a valid point.

There are not many products’ out there that are totally natural but they are growing in number and I for one will be back for them whether it’s my previous recommendation or a new one on the scene.

Alcohol and Cleaning

Now there are plenty of people who say what about hand gels that kill bacteria.

Yes of course I get it but I also know that there are other products’ out there that can do a job for us.

But putting on face cream is not the same as sanitizing a hospital ward now is it!

You can read my review of alcohol free wipes for sanitizing here

I am still looking for an ideal suntan lotion that will help me although it’s very thick but Holland Barret’ own brand in the UK is certainly an option and the staff took plenty of time out to sort that for me so thank you!

I would love to know what kind cream you use without alcohol? What do you think about the question : is alcohol bad for the skin? Just leave your thoughts below and I always get back to every message that is left on the blog to do with anything alcohol free, health or sun cream! Happy hunting!



4 thoughts on “Is alcohol bad for the skin?”

  1. Thanks a lot for this review on alcohol. Until reading this review, I really did not know the dangers of alcohol to the skin, I only thought that alcohol can make someone crazy when they get it in excess. The one that amazed me the most were that alcohol can cause stubborn redness that won’t go away as well as broken capillaries which are part of our blood transport network appearing in our skin. That’s just enough to avoid alcohol altogether.


    • Hey Jude, thanks so much for commenting on is alcohol bad for your skin. I guess the issue is both an internal one so what we drink and also an external one as in skin care and even sun block. I am really pleased you found it interesting. Much appreciated, Phil

  2. Hello

    It’s funny I came across this site as I stopped drinking New Years day 2020.

    Since stopping I feel a lot better and don’t have the urge to ever drink again (not saying I won’t).

    I struggled getting good sleep when drinking and the left side of my head always use to hurt for some unknown reason. I like your content and it is very informative. Keep up the great work!

    • Hey Julian, that is great that you came to the site before. To be honest I noticed a big audience spike on the blog on New Year’s Day so I am not surprised. You are very welcome here and I am pleased the content including is alcohol bad for the skin was of interest to you. 

      I think even a reduction in alcohol can help and it does not have to be for life, awareness about alcohol is key. Its lovely to have your feedback on the site. Its comments like this that keep me going. 

      I wish you all the very best, Phil


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