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Cheers to Clear Skin: The Surprising Link Between Alcohol and Acne

The Link Between Alcohol and Acne

Acne is a common and frustrating skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is caused by a combination of factors, including excess sebum production, bacterial growth, and inflammation.

While many factors can contribute to the development or worsening of acne, numerous studies have shown that alcohol consumption can play a role. This article explores the link between alcohol and acne to help you make informed decisions about your skin’s health.

Effects of Alcohol on Bodily Systems

To understand how alcohol can contribute to acne development, it’s essential to recognize how alcohol affects our bodily systems. Alcohol enters the bloodstream and impacts organs like the liver, skin, and brain, which can all have an effect on skin health.

Liver Processes

The liver processes alcohol, which can lead to increased levels of inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation can trigger or exacerbate acne breakouts.

Hormonal Balance

Alcohol can also impact hormonal balance, which can have an indirect effect on acne. Hormonal imbalances can prompt sebum production, leading to oily skin and acne development.


Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of dehydration. Dehydration can lead to poor functioning of the skin’s barrier, resulting in acne-prone skin.


Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to systemic inflammation, which can promote acne and worsen existing breakouts.

Types of Alcohol and Their Effects

Different types of alcohol can have different effects on the skin and impact your acne development.


Beer contains beer hops which have phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens mimic oestrogen, a female hormone, and can disrupt hormonal balance, leading to the risk of acne development.

Red Wine

Red wine contains resveratrol, a chemical known for its anti-inflammatory properties. But, in high quantities, red wine can lead to flushing that may trigger acne breakouts.

White Wine

White wine can cause dehydration due to its alcoholic content. It can also impact hormonal balance, leading to an increased risk of acne development.

Clear Liquor

Clear liquor, such as vodka, gin, and white rum, have less potential to irritate the skin than dark liquors. Clear liquors also tend to have fewer congeners, which contribute to post-drinking inflammation and dehydration that can lead to acne development.

Dark Liquor

Brown liquors like whiskey, rum, and brandy contain more congeners that contribute to the inflammation and dehydration that can lead to acne. Drinking dark liquor in large amounts can also lead to skin flushing and irritation.

Does Alcohol Cause Acne? The relationship between alcohol and acne is complex.

While some studies suggest that alcohol can cause acne, others indicate that it only triggers or exacerbates existing acne.

Direct Impact of Alcohol on Acne

Alcohol can directly impact the skin’s structure and function. When alcohol is applied directly to the skin, it can interfere with sebum production leading to acne development.

Indirect Impact of Alcohol on Acne

While there is no direct link between alcohol and acne development, alcohol can indirectly cause or worsen existing acne. Alcohol can stimulate the release of free radicals that can damage skin cells and increase the risk of acne development.

Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration and hormonal imbalances that increase the risk of acne development.


In conclusion, various factors can contribute to the development or worsening of acne, including alcohol consumption. While there is no conclusive link between alcohol and acne development, excessive alcohol intake can lead to hormonal imbalances, dehydration, and systemic inflammation, increasing the risk of acne breakouts.

If you’re struggling with acne, considering moderating your alcohol consumption and focusing on a healthy lifestyle. This way, you’ll reduce the risk of developing acne and help your skin maintain a clear, glowy complexion.

What Drinks Cause Acne? Acne can be caused or worsened by various factors, including certain types of alcohol.

The type of alcoholic beverage, its contents, and even the amount consumed can impact an individual’s skin health. Understanding the connection between alcohol and acne can help you make decisions about which drinks to avoid and which to consume in moderation.

Congeners in Different Types of Alcohol

Congeners are organic chemicals produced during the fermentation process of alcohol that contribute to the taste, color, and aroma of alcoholic beverages. Different types of alcohol contain varying amounts and types of congeners, which can play a role in acne development.


Furfural is a congener commonly found in liquor produced from grains, like whiskey. This congener can increase inflammation, leading to skin irritation and acne.


Tannins are found in wine, particularly red wine, and can also trigger and aggravate acne.

Tannins lead to dehydration, which reduces the skin’s ability to heal and repair.

Inflammation and dehydration caused by congeners trigger several negative skin effects, including acne, rosacea, and eczema. Therefore, it is beneficial to keep an eye on your congener intake and choose the right drinks to avoid these conditions.

Impact of Congeners on Hangovers

Dehydration caused by alcohol can lead to hangovers, which can further exacerbate acne development. Hangovers cause inflammation throughout the body which can lead to broken capillaries and skin irritation.


When you drink alcohol, you may not feel as thirsty, but your body naturally loses water, leading to dehydration. To prevent dehydration and its related effects on the skin, drink water every time you drink alcohol.


The inflammation associated with hangovers can lead to acne breakouts, especially when alcohol’s dehydrating effects reduce your skin’s ability to repair and rejuvenate.

Preventing Acne When Drinking Alcohol

While avoiding alcohol altogether may be the best course of action, here are simple ways you can reduce the risks of developing acne when drinking alcohol.

Avoiding Sugary Mixed Drinks

Sugar consumed through alcohol is often added to cocktails or sweetened spirits. Sugars are high on glycemic index and can cause excess oil production in the skin, leading to an increase in acne risk.

To avoid this, choose drinks that are low in sugar, such as spirits with seltzer water.

Hydrating with Water and Other Drinks

To maintain hydration levels and avoid dehydration-induced inflammation, drinking water before, during, and after alcohol consumption is essential. Coconut water contains electrolytes, like potassium and magnesium, that can reduce redness and inflammation after drinking.

Gatorade can also be used to replace lost electrolytes and keep the body hydrated.

Avoiding Trigger Foods

Greasy foods, high glycemic index foods, chocolate, sugary foods, and dairy products can trigger acne in some individuals. Choose low glycemic index foods and natural, healthy drinks to manage your acne when drinking.

Not Touching Your Face

Acne-causing bacteria, oils, and dirt can be transferred from your hands to your face. Avoid touching your face, especially when drinking.

Washing Your Face Before Bed

After drinking alcohol, it’s essential to wash your face thoroughly before going to bed. Cleansing and moisturizing the skin can lead to repairing and regenerating it overnight, which will help prevent the occurrence of acne.

Managing Stress Levels

Alcohol consumption is conducive to stress and anxiety, which can trigger acne. Managing stress and keeping a balance in hormones can help avoid acne and other skin conditions.


While alcohol and acne may be related, adopting healthy drinking habits and taking good care of your skin can help mitigate the negative effects of alcohol consumption on the skin. Understanding the link between alcohol and acne can help you make healthy choices concerning your drinking habits, skincare, and other healthy lifestyle habits.

In conclusion, the link between alcohol and acne is complex and requires a balanced approach to manage the risks. The type of alcohol, its contents, and hydration levels can impact the skin’s health and lead to acne development.

By adopting healthy drinking habits, maintaining a proper skincare routine, and focusing on a healthy lifestyle, you can take control of your acne and manage its occurrence. In summary, here are some frequently asked questions to help you make informed choices for your skin’s health:


– Does alcohol directly cause acne?

No, there is no conclusive link between alcohol and acne development, but it can exacerbate existing acne. – What types of alcohol should I avoid to prevent acne?

High congener drinks such as red wine and whiskey should be consumed in moderation to minimize the risk of acne. – Can sugary drinks affect my acne development?

Yes, high sugar drinks lead to increased oil production in the skin, which can cause acne development. – Should I hydrate before, during, and after drinking to prevent acne?

Yes, hydrating before, during, and after drinking is essential to prevent dehydration, which can impact the skin’s health. – Can touching my face lead to acne development?

Yes, touching your face can transfer bacteria, oils, and dirt, leading to acne development. – Should I skip my skincare routine after drinking alcohol?

No, it is essential to cleanse and moisturize your skin after drinking alcohol to prevent oil buildup and acne development. – Does stress lead to acne development?

Yes, stress can lead to hormonal imbalances and increased oil production, both of which can exacerbate acne development.

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