The Best — & Worst — Types Of Alcohol For Your Skin, Ranked

A dangerously addictive vice at its worst and one of life's great celebratory pleasures at its best, alcohol is tricky to get right. While it's no beauty elixir, one glass of red wine a day is okay, even healthy, some might say. But when you start your morning with a round of mimosas at brunch, down a bourbon nightcap come midnight, and account for a few too many beers in between, the repercussions are not so fun. Not only does it mess with your liver health and your clarity of mind, hitting the bottle too hard can seriously fuck up your skin — if you're not careful.

As celebrity aesthetician Angela Caglia tells us, alcohol dehydrates your skin and robs it of its vital nutrients, so excessive alcohol consumption (think: drinking like you're still in college), can contribute to skin's premature aging in the long term, and bloating, puffiness, enlarged pores, dullness, and rosacea the day after.

So if you're wondering how people go out and drink, then walk into work the next day looking like they got a full eight-hours and did a face mask the night before, the answer is this: They're cognizant of their skin and the way it reacts to certain types of alcohol when they're walking up to the bartender. Caglia recommends living (or drinking) by the general rule of thumb that the clearer the alcohol, the better it'll be for your skin. Red wine, dark whiskey, a piña colada — these are the things a killer hangover and a puffy face are made of. Straight-up, no frills shots? Surprisingly not so bad.

Ahead, we're breaking down what the most popular alcohols (beer, white wine, red wine, vodka, and tequila) do to your skin. Think of it as a guide to keep your happy hour from fucking you up. Your skin, that is.

Photo Courtesy Of Louisa Cannell
Beer

Whether it's a Bud Light you're drinking out of a paper bag or some fancy craft label from a crunchy California brewery that costs $15 a bottle, guzzling any type of beer is not going to be great for your skin — but it's not the worst you can do.

Mostly, the issue is with bloating as opposed to rosacea or acne flare-ups. "Beer contains both sugar and some salt, so it contributes to face and tummy bloating," Caglia explains. Skin puffiness is not ideal, but throwing back a beer or two (or even three) shouldn't create a huge problem. Interestingly, it turns out beer actually has some beauty benefits, as it's been found that the hops and yeast have soothing benefits for the skin. One spa in Ohio has even started offering hops facials and barley massages made with craft brewskis. But before you justify your next keg stand, know that the benefits only come from soaking your skin in beer — chugging it will only get you puffiness... and maybe a few high fives.
Photo Courtesy Of Louisa Cannell
White Wine

Unfortunately for your Thursday whine-and-wine sesh, a few glasses of white (or any type of sugary Champagne for that matter) could be pretty harmful to your skin. Nutrition expert Paula Simpson tells us that wine contains sulfites that protect it from spoiling (which is why it gets better with age), but those sulfites can trigger skin redness and irritation. If you have very sensitive skin, it's likely to leave you with a full flush of rosacea, making it painfully obvious that you've been drinking. So sadly, if you're having more than a few drinks and rosy cheeks aren't your jam, you might want to opt for a clear-alcohol cocktail or beer instead.

But if you can't give up your white, try to keep it to one glass. Care/of Nutritionist Jillian Tuchman, MS, RD, recommends drinking a glass of water with every glass of Sauvignon blanc to soften the blow to your skin and reduce the risk of finding splotchy red patches all over your face when you look in the bathroom mirror.
Photo Courtesy Of Louisa Cannell
Red Wine

We know antioxidants are good and red wine has antioxidants, so therefore, we can justify our heavy pours, right? Not entirely. Caglia tells us that although red wine has the powerful antioxidant resveratrol, which is good for your skin and anti-aging, it can also accelerate the rate of rosacea, if you're prone to the condition. That's because although it has less sugar than white wine, it still contains the sulfites that cause skin irritation.

But as NYC dermatologist Neal Schultz, MD, reminds us, everyone has different redness thresholds, and some people will be more sensitive to flare-ups. "In people with rosacea, alcohol can trigger acne breakouts (acne rosacea) with facial red pimples and pus pimples in addition to the redness," he explains.

Bottom line: If you're having one or two drinks and you don't struggle with rosacea, you can feel okay about going with red wine. But if you're filling your glass with Bordeaux for hours on end, your skin might start to freak out.
Vodka

Now we're getting into the stronger stuff — the makings of shots and lowered inhibitions. But despite being high in alcohol by volume, vodka in its purest form probably isn't going to mess up your skin too badly. If you're drinking a lot, vodka's a good choice, says Caglia. "With no extra sugar and salt, it gets in and out of your system fast," she explains. And your best bet, much to the dismay of your tastebuds, is to take it straight. Most juices and mixed drinks contain a ton of sugar, which translates to hangover face.
Tequila

Your best bet if you're looking to keep your skin glowing while treating yourself to a bunch of drinks? Tequila. You've probably heard that, like red wine, tequila actually has some health benefits. As Caglia tells us, it can help lower blood sugar and has been said to help with digestion. And skin-wise, it's not linked to any reactive rosacea flare-ups, bloating, or inflammation. But before you start mixing a margarita, know that once you start adding salting the rim and adding sugary syrups, the fringe health benefits and skin calmness go out the window.

Also important: Remember to keep it clear with your tequila. As Tuchman explains, the dark stuff contains congeners from fermentation that clear liquor doesn't. Those congeners can worsen your hangover and the facial signs of a hangover (dull and droopy skin).
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