7 Alcoholic Drinks, Ranked From Best to Worst for Your Skin

Dr. Janet Zand

August 14, 2020



You probably know that alcohol isn’t great for your skin.

But what if you just want to enjoy a drink now and then? Could some types of drinks be better for your skin than others?

Well, yes! The type of drink does make a big difference.

Here are the best and the worst alcoholic drinks for your skin...

1. Tequila

This usually surprises people, but tequila is not the worst drink for your skin. That’s because tequila has less sugar than most other alcohols, so it's less likely to trigger inflammation and breakouts.

One caveat: Skip the salt. Too much salt can make your face puffy and bloated-looking, and it can cause bags under your eyes. Salt can also dehydrate your skin.

And of course, if you slam tequila shots all night, all bets are off. Your skin (and your head) will suffer for it.

2. Beer

Beer contains some salt, and we’ve just talked about how excess sodium affects your skin.

But beer also has some redeeming qualities. For one thing, it contains antioxidants! Yes, beer actually contains antioxidants, which have anti-aging benefits.

Beer also contains less alcohol than liquor, and people tend to drink it slower. So beer doesn’t dehydrate your skin as much as the more potent forms of alcohol.

So all in all, beer isn’t too bad for your skin.

3. Vodka and Tonic (or Gin and Tonic)

Vodka and gin are relatively low in salt and sugar, so they’re pretty good options for your skin.

However, make sure your tonic (or soda) is sugar-free. Otherwise you’re adding in sugar that can cause systemic inflammation. And systemic inflammation leads to skin cell damage and other signs of premature aging.

4. Red Wine

Red wine is a tough call, so I’ll tell you about the pros, the cons, and what I do personally.

First, the pros. Red wine contains resveratrol, found in the skin of the wine grapes. And resveratrol has been linked to many exciting health benefits, including protecting brain function as we age, lowering blood pressure, and even combating certain types of cancer cells!

And resveratrol is an antioxidant, so it has skin benefits, too. In fact, researchers compared naturally occurring resveratrol with one of the most potent antioxidants we know of: idebenone. And they found that resveratrol was 17 times more powerful than idebenone!

Other studies have shown that resveratrol can prevent photo-aging, a type of aging that occurs when your skin is repeatedly exposed to the sun.

(That said, you still need to wear sunblock and a hat! Think of resveratrol as extra insurance against photo-aging.)

So those are a lot of benefits of red wine. But now, we have to talk about the drawbacks...

Red wine is a vasodilator. That means it makes your blood vessels open up, which leads to redness and flushing. Red wine is also a histamine releaser, which also promotes redness and flushing.

So if you're prone to redness or you have rosacea, red wine may not be the best drink for you.

There's also a small group of people whose bodies react to the clarifying agents used to make wine. These agents may include sulfites, histamines, and allergens. People with these intolerances should consult with their doctors about how to avoid or treat their symptoms.

Okay, now that you know about the pros and the cons, here’s what I do personally...

From time to time, I will have a glass of red wine. But before I do, I take 1000 mg of N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) -- a powerful antioxidant that comes from an amino acid.  I also take 1000 mg of buffered vitamin C and drink a glass of water.

Then, while I’m enjoying my glass of red wine, I drink water intermittently.

The next morning I take the same amount of NAC and vitamin C, and I drink more water.

Now, I’m a bit sensitive to alcohol. But when I do this little routine it makes a big difference for me. I never feel dehydrated or appear puffy the next day.

However, if you’re NOT sensitive to alcohol, you can probably just drink water before, during, and after having a glass of wine, and you’ll be just fine.

5. White Wine

I gave red wine a pass, but I can’t do the same for white wine.

Why? Well, white wine is higher in sugar, which leads to systemic inflammation. And we’ve already talked about how systemic inflammation causes cell damage and premature aging.

Also, white wine has few redeeming qualities, few health benefits, and no skin benefits.

So white wine is not a great choice for your skin.

6. Mojito

We just talked about sugar and premature aging, right?

Well, you can probably guess what I’m about to say about mojitos, because mojitos (along with most mixed, fruity drinks) are loaded with sugar. They’re terrible for your skin.

Skip the mojito and try one of the low-sugar options from this list.

7. Margarita

This is one of the worst drinks for your skin. (I’m sorry!)

A margarita combines high levels of skin-damaging sugar AND salt. The result: a hangover, a puffy face, bags under your eyes, and premature aging. Yikes.

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up margaritas forever!

There are a lot of margarita recipes on the Internet that use natural, zero-sugar sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit. Just google “sugar-free margarita” or “keto margarita” and find a recipe you like.

And remember, go easy on the salt!

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