Grabbing one too many half-price happy hour cocktails won’t just leave you with a raging headache, exhaustion, and insatiable thirst the next morning. Skin hangovers are real, too. When you’ve indulged a little too much on the booze, it can leave your face puffy, red, and drier than the Sahara desert. Luckily, aside from drinking less (we know, unpopular advice), there are a few steps you can take to help mitigate a skin hangover.
Wait, so what exactly does alcohol do to my skin?
There are a few things going on. Immediately after drinking, you may notice your skin has become flushed. As your body breaks down alcohol, the alcohol releases histamine, which dilates blood vessels and is responsible for your skin’s post-margarita redness. Some people have more trouble metabolizing alcohol than others, so if you get redder than your BFF after a vodka soda, that could be why.
One of the biggest knocks against alcohol is that it’s dehydrating. When you guzzle wine or beer, you’ll pee out water and electrolytes, and to counteract that, your body will try to retain water with all its might. This leads to puffiness and bloating. On your face, you’ll see this most prevalently around your eyes. That dehydration could leave your skin dry and dull, too.
Finally, there’s a long-term effect to think about. Alcohol is also loaded with sugar—and sugar causes inflammation, which can show up on your face as breakouts. Sugar can even break down collagen, a necessary building block for healthy, youthful-looking skin.
Is there anything I can do while drinking to prevent a skin hangover?
Remember that advice your mom always gave you to sip a glass of water between gin and tonics? She knew what she was talking about. Although alternating mixed drinks and H20 may not necessarily prevent a hangover, it will mitigate some of the booze’s dehydrating effects — which as you know can show up on your face in the form of dryness and puffiness.
What about when I get home?
We know: You probably want to head straight to bed as soon as you get home from drinking, happy hour or not. But to avoid waking up with a breakout along with a skin hangover (the literal worst), please please please remove your makeup. SLMD Skincare makes Step Zero: Cleansing Wipes that remove makeup, dirt, and debris, and you don’t even need to be near a sink to use one.
If you can, wash your face, then follow up with a calming moisturizer to soothe redness and rehydrate your skin. Hyaluronic acid is a great ingredient to look for in serum or moisturizer since it holds 1,000 times its weight in water — you can find it in the SLMD Skincare Hyaluronic Acid Serum.
Finally, down one more glass of H20 to continue fighting against the dehydrating effects of alcohol. The less dehydrated you are when your head hits the pillow, the less puffy you’ll look when you wake up.
Well, I just woke up and I definitely have a skin hangover. What’s my game plan?
It’s time to brighten and de-puff. If your skin looks as tired as you feel, use a brightening face scrub to remove all those dull, dead skin cells and bring some life back to your face. (Remember if you’ve got acne to stick to a chemical exfoliator, not a physical one) Once you’re done exfoliating, apply an SPF moisturizer (like the SLMD Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15) and dab on a caffeine eye cream. Caffeine is a popular eye cream ingredient thanks to its ability to constrict blood vessels, curbing the look of dark circles and under-eye bags temporarily. You can also fake it ‘til you make it. All you need now are eye drops and concealer — and no one has to be the wiser!