Going sober for October? Why your skin will thank you

Wrinkles, dry skin, red patches and skin conditions: Suddenly that glass of wine doesn't seem so tempting

As people up and down the UK pledge to give up alcohol for a month to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support, we looked into just one of the many health benefits of giving up booze.

So if you're struggling to keep to your promise and after work drinks are looking ever-more tempting, perhaps knowing how your skin will benefit will strengthen your resolve to stay alcohol-free.Drinking too much alcohol will show on your face with dull, tired skin and irritation [REX]

"Alcohol is a diuretic, leading to dehydration, and encourages flushing," says Dr Sam Bunting. "This means the short-term effects of an alcohol binge are dry, dull-looking skin with a tendency to redness in the cheeks and nose.

"Redness is caused by acetaldehyde, formed when alcohol breaks down - and it's especially common in the Asian population because they have a common deficiency in the enzyme that breaks acetaldehyde down, meaning it accumulates, triggering more flushing."

Dry, flaky skin, with red patches and uneven skin tone makes us look a that glass of wine a little differently. But the long-term effects are even more off-putting.

"Excess alcohol speeds up ageing through the generation of free radicals, which lead to collagen breakdown and wrinkle formation," continues Dr Bunting.

"But it can also have a detrimental effect in the long-term on certain common inflammatory disorders. For example, both rosacea and psoriasis are exacerbated by drinking too much."

So a weekend binge will mess up our skin temporarily, and regularly doing it will speed up aging and give us wrinkles. But many people who enjoy a moderate amount of alcohol regularly, say a glass or two of wine with dinner in the evening, aren't immune either, so it's important to make sure it really is moderate.

"Moderate quantities (within the recommended weekly amount) of red wine may be beneficial to the skin due to the presence of antioxidants, which could help block the harmful effects of the suns rays. But the word moderate is key," Dr Bunting stresses.

"I would never suggest someone drinks alcohol for its benefits - but if one were to choose an alcoholic beverage that might have some positive attributes, then a glass of red wine with food would be it."

For many of us, giving up drinking is an unlikely long-term plan, but giving your body and your skin a rest from it can make you realise it's not only possible, but that you feel better too - and your skin has its best chance to get that healthy glow we're all after.

For when you are back on the sauce, Dr Bunting has this advice:

"The key thing is to match a glass of alcohol with a glass of water and to limit quantity. A lot of the time we gulp down that first glass of wine because we're thirsty -  drinking water counteracts that desire. Try sticking to drinking alcohol with food to slow down absorption, which again should negate some of its side-effects."

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