– In the short term, drinking alcohol can cause dry skin, flushing, dark circles, and decreased elasticity. Prolonged alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder can lead to or aggravate a variety of skin conditions. Eliminating alcohol from a person’s diet and lifestyle should help the skin to clear up.
Is alcohol in skincare bad for skin?
The One Common Skincare Ingredient That’s a Total Red Flag Liz deSousa for BYRDIE / Design by Bailey Mariner Skin that feels dry and depleted after toner, moisturizer, or a face wash is confusing—like you’ve just fallen for false advertising. The goal with skincare is never to feel worse over time, so what gives? The culprit may be alcohol, but not just any alcohol—volatile alcohols that actually damage the skin’s barrier.
Maryam Zamani is a London-based oculoplastic surgeon and leading facial aesthetics doctor, as well as the founder of MZ Skin. is a celebrity esthetician based between Austin, Texas and Los Angeles, California. Goesel Anson, MD, FACS, is a Las Vegas-based plastic surgeon and co-creator of FixMD.
To learn more about alcohol in skincare, we chatted with a few dermatologists to sort it all out. Keep reading to find out what they had to say. Before we out the bad alcohols, let’s understand how to differentiate the bad from the good. “Fatty alcohol, which is derived from coconut or palm oil, is sometimes used to thicken a formulation and can be nourishing for the skin,” says, MD.
Ethanol is a well-known topical penetration enhancer, which means it can be used to increase the transdermal delivery of certain ingredients into the skin.” These come by way of names like cetyl (product thickener), stearyl (an emollient to trap moisture in skin), cetearyl alcohol (an emulsifier), and propylene glycol (a humectant to attract water into the skin).
Celebrity esthetician adds that vitamins A1 (retinol) and E are actually alcohols, too, and are beneficial to the skin’s overall surface. Some alcohols are safe, but many aren’t. Rouleau says that evaporative solvent alcohols like SD alcohol 40, denatured alcohol, ethanol, and isopropyl alcohol (also known as simple alcohols) all have a dehydrating effect to the skin and are often used in toners and gel moisturizers.
So why do brands use simple alcohol in their skincare products? Rouleau says they give a tight, cooling, and “refreshing sensation” that oily-skinned gals might find reassuring, despite the fact that they’re stripping away the skin’s natural oils and may be damaging the skin barrier. Zamani adds that they also act as a vehicle to help dissolve ingredients that aren’t water-soluble, as well as drive ingredients deeper into the skin.
The large-scale impact largely outweighs any short-term benefit (or perceived benefit), though. “In the long run, they can enlarge pores and increase greasiness, so avoid products containing any type of alcohol if you have an oily skin type or acne-prone skin,” she explains.
- Ethanol in toners can also be quite drying for sensitive skin types, so watch out for that, too.
- The higher the alcohol is on the ingredients list, the higher the concentration and the stronger it will be on the skin.” Additionally, the National Rosacea Society points out that these astringent alcohols, along with methanol and, can lead to increased dryness and irritation in people with already-inflamed skin.
Sometimes bad alcohols aren’t so terrible. “They are acceptable when used in spot treatments since the goal is to dry up the infection, and alcohol can do that,” says Rouleau. “Sometimes they will also be used to decrease any surface oil before an esthetician applies a professional chemical peel to ensure the peel gets into the skin the deepest.” What if you just want to avoid the word “alcohol” in your skincare altogether? Goesel Anson, MD, FACS, co-creator of FixMD, says this would be doing yourself a disservice: “If you excluded every ingredient that ends in OH, you would be missing out on those that have more beneficial properties, like fatty alcohols.” Fatty alcohols aren’t scary and are actually beneficial in skincare to help draw in and hold moisture, but simple alcohols are drying and damaging for most skin types, especially those with dry, sensitive skin, or rosacea.
- That said, if you want to avoid adverse reactions, be sure to double-check the ingredients label before adding a new product to your skincare routine.
- And, if you’re unsure about an ingredient on the list, click over to the to quickly uncover whether or not it’s safe for your skin type.
- Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.
Read our to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy. : The One Common Skincare Ingredient That’s a Total Red Flag
Can alcohol cause skin problems?
How Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Skin Medically Reviewed by on April 17, 2022 might make you drowsy and help you fall asleep faster, but you may not stay that way. It breaks up your normal sleep rhythms and can make you restless throughout the night. That often leads to dark circles under your eyes. Cold compresses should help, but the best answer is a good night’s sleep. Try to get at least 7 hours a night. A night of drinking might make you feel swollen all over. Alcohol your body, which could make your eyes puffy. Be sure to drink plenty of water during the day to stay hydrated. Alcohol also can irritate your stomach lining. That may lead to a swollen, bloated belly. The solution: Drink less booze, more water, and try an over-the-counter bloating remedy. If your face flushes when you drink, you may have some degree of rosacea. This common skin condition causes your face – especially your cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead – to turn red. Drinking alcohol can sometimes trigger a rosacea flare. Some studies show alcohol might raise your odds of getting if you don’t already have it. An enzyme issue can turn your cheeks rosy after you drink. ALDH2 is the enzyme that breaks down alcohol’s toxic compound. When it isn’t working right, the toxins stay in your cells, which leads to warmth and flushing. It’s a genetic issue that’s more likely to affect people from Asian backgrounds. These red, itchy skin bumps might show up when you drink. They can affect just one body part or pop up all over. Sometimes they’re a symptom of alcohol intolerance, meaning your body can’t break down alcohol well. They may also result from an allergic reaction to an ingredient in alcohol. could last a few minutes or a few days. Treat them with cool compresses and over-the-counter antihistamines. Heavy drinking can make you more likely to get, a bacterial skin infection that usually affects your lower legs. It makes the skin there red, swollen, painful, and warm to the touch. The bacteria get into your body through a cut or wound in your skin. The infection is often serious. You’ll need to treat it with antibiotics. For some people, sunlight causes extreme burning, blisters, and pain. This problem is often passed down in families, but alcohol use can also trigger it. Your skin may wound easily, itch, and turn red when you’re in the sun. To ease your symptoms, stop drinking and avoid direct sunlight. Regular heavy drinking can trigger – a condition where skin cells build up and make dry, itchy patches. It could also make an outbreak worse, especially in men. Alcohol doesn’t mix well with psoriasis treatments, either. It may make it harder for some to do their job, and it could be dangerous when mixed with others. You might notice on your scalp or itchy patches of greasy skin on other body parts. Doctors call this skin disease seborrheic dermatitis, and it’s often a sign of immune system problems or a yeast in the body. For some people, drinking alcohol can trigger a flare-up. Over-the-counter shampoos are a good first treatment option, but you may need a prescription remedy. Drinking alcohol is linked to cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, and, Research shows alcohol use also may be tied to the most common types of skin cancer. Your body works to repair DNA damage caused by the sun, but alcohol can interfere with that process.
- It’s rare, but the palms of your hands – and maybe the soles of your feet – might turn red for no reason.
- They won’t hurt or itch.
- It can be genetic, but it could also result from medication,, or heavy alcohol use.
- There’s no cure for the redness.
- To ease symptoms, cut back on your drinking or treat the underlying disease.
Your nose might get red and stuffy or runny when you have a beer or a glass of wine. This allergy-like reaction usually happens within an hour of drinking. It’s common in people who also have asthma, sinus disease, or problems with aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
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National Sleep Foundation: “How Alcohol Affects the Quality—And Quantity—Of Sleep,” “What Happens When You Sleep?” “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?”
- Mayo Clinic: “Dark circles under eyes,” “Belching, gas and bloating: Tips for reducing them,” “Alcohol Intolerance,” “Cellulitis,” “Porphyria,” “Psoriasis,” “Seborrheic dermatitis.”
- The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology : “Periorbital Hyperpigmentation: A Comprehensive Review.”
- JAMA Internal Medicine : “Mechanism of Dehydration Following Alcohol Ingestion.”
- HealthyWomen: “How to Get Rid of Puffy Eyes.”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Gastritis,” “Is there a link between alcohol and skin cancer?
- Cleveland Clinic: “Facial Flushing: Should You Worry If Your Face Turns Red When You Drink?”
- National Rosacea Society: “All About Rosacea,” “Factors That May Trigger Rosacea Flare-Ups.”
- Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology : “Alcohol intake and risk of rosacea in US women.”
American Academy of Dermatology: “Does Drinking Cause Rosacea?” “Cellulitis: How to Prevent it From Returning.” : How Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Skin
Does alcohol in skincare cause aging?
Conclusion About Alcohol in Skincare Products – The research is clear: alcohol harms your skin’s protective surface, depletes vital substances needed for healthy skin, and makes oiliness worse. To put it simply, it contributes to ageing your skin. Given the hundreds of skin-friendly alternatives that are available, it’s a no-brainer to abstain from products that are front-loaded with the skin-damaging forms of alcohol: such as isopropyl alcohol in skincare or ethanol in skincare.
Hand sanitisers are the sole exception to this rule. Such products require at least 60% alcohol (ethanol) in order to most effectively kill illness-causing viruses and germs. Soap and water are preferred for hand hygiene throughout the day, but in the absence of convenient access to this method, using a hand sanitiser is the next best thing.
The exposure to alcohol isn’t ideal, but unlike alcohol in facial skincare, alcohol-based hand sanitisers serve a necessary health-protecting purpose. References for this information:
Journal of Hospital Infection, August 2019, pages 419-424 Journal of Investigative Dermatology, October 2018, pages 2,234-2,243 International Journal of Cosmetic Science, April 2017, pages 188-196 Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, November 2014, pages 109-117 Drug Design, Development and Therapy, November 2015, pages 6,225-6,233 The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in Practice, March 2013, pages 195-196 Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1,410-1,419 Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821-832 Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, ePublication International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement pages 1-43
Is alcohol bad for your acne?
Is there a connection? – Acne is caused by bacteria, inflammation, and clogged pores. Certain lifestyle habits can make you more vulnerable to developing acne, especially if you have acne-prone skin. Drinking alcohol doesn’t cause acne. It also doesn’t directly worsen the condition.
Why does alcohol make skin worse?
Does alcohol increase the likelihood of skin conditions? – When you consume excessive amounts of alcohol, toxins can build up in the deeper layers of the skin causing inflammation to occur and this can manifest in your skin as bloating, puffiness, acne, redness, flushing, premature ageing and even an increase in wrinkles !
Is 100% alcohol good for skin?
The Debate: Is Alcohol in Skin Care Good or Bad? – There are pros and cons to using alcohol in skin care. Alcohol can penetrate oil buildup and dissolve dirt and grease on the face, says Gretchen Frieling, MD, a board-certified dermatopathologist in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
But Dr. Frieling says you have to consider your skin type and goal. For instance, if you have extremely oily skin, an alcohol-based toner may help reduce pore-clogging sebum. But if you have dry skin, sensitive skin, eczema, or allergies, that same alcohol-based toner will dry out your skin, she says.
Is Alcohol Bad in Skincare? with KindofStephen | Lab Muffin Beauty Science
Some people have raised concerns that because alcohol enhances the penetration of other ingredients, skin may be more likely to absorb potentially toxic or harmful contaminants in a product, per research, Despite the controversy, the presence of alcohol is generally not something to fear, as long as you’re purchasing a product that uses it in small amounts (more on this later).
- Alcohol is found in so many skin products, and most people use it without problem,” says Dr. Fine.
- For normal skin types, alcohol is unlikely to cause a problem with your skin.
- Yet if your skin is sensitive for any reason, scan the ingredients label.
- If your skin barrier is not intact due to irritation or a rash, then alcohol has the potential to be irritating.
It’s going to burn, though that can be said for almost any product when skin is compromised,” she says. RELATED: 10 Things Your Skin Is Trying to Tell You — and How to Respond
Can I use 91% alcohol on my face?
– Rubbing alcohol is a type of disinfectant that people sometimes use to treat minor skin wounds. In theory, rubbing alcohol may help to kill acne-causing bacteria. However, no studies are investigating the efficacy of rubbing alcohol as a treatment for acne.
Is 99% alcohol safe for skin?
What are the benefits of using 99% isopropyl alcohol? – Besides its effectiveness as a – which is one of the key benefits for many, 99% IPA evaporates quickly and cleanly, leaving behind no significant or notable residues. While its rapid evaporation does reduce its shelf life, it also makes it one of the most effective agents against sticky residues, grease, and grime.
It is commonly used across a large number of industries, and due to modern manufacturing systems that now produce superior grades of IPA in high yields, has fueled innovation in water-sensitive applications. The only downside of 99% isopropyl alcohol is that, understandably, it needs to be used and stored properly.
In this concentration, it is highly flammable, may cause dizziness if used in high quantities in an ill-ventilated area, and can be an irritant to skin and eyes. Of course, it should also never be ingested.99% isopropyl alcohol can be used in a range of applications but is the most effective and popular within manufacturing.
Does alcohol in skincare clog pores?
OTHER ALCOHOLS USED INCLUDE: –
Behenyl, caprylyl/caprylate, decyl, isostearyl, lauryl and myristyl (notice the common denominator yl).
If you have super-sensitive skin, certain fatty alcohols and combinations can cause reactions such as redness, inflammation, irritation and clogged pores, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. Certain combinations of alcohols due to their fatty acid chain length can have high comedogenic (block the pores) ratings and interfere with the natural transpiration process.
So, if you get any pimples or blackheads this alcohol could be the culprit. If your skin is sensitive-oily, I’d recommend Mukti Organics and if it’s sensitive normal-dry then the, Both these products don’t contain alcohols. If you want an astringent toner to assist with balancing your skins oil production, then our is your go-to.
I always recommend to avoid moisturising in areas that are generating their own oil activity. For example, if you have and an t-zone, then you don’t really need to moisturise this area if you were using a product like the, Just concentrate on the outer third and the drier areas of your face.
Are alcohol toners bad for skin?
Are Alcohol-Based Toners Bad For Your Skin? By Ching Dee for Belo Medical Group on February 16, 2021 Share: For years, we’ve been told that a good skincare routine should be alcohol-free. But as more studies are conducted and more products are developed, a brighter light is now being shed on alcohol as a not-always-bad—and sometimes, necessary—part of our daily skincare regimen.
First off, alcohols are usually added in skincare products (especially on toners) because, according to, it “acts as a vehicle to help dissolve ingredients that aren’t water-soluble, as well as drive ingredients deeper into the skin”. These are usually simple alcohols like denatured alcohol, ethanol, and isopropyl alcohol, which are mainly characterized by their low molecular weight.
It’s the thing that gives our skin that cool and tight feeling after swiping on the toner. It leaves our skin practically oil-free to the touch, but it’s actually these kinds of effects that we should avoid. According to Dr. Maryam Zamani, “In the long run, they can enlarge pores and increase greasiness, so avoid products containing any type of alcohol if you have an oily skin type or acne-prone skin Ethanol in toners can also be quite drying for sensitive skin types, so watch out for that, too.
The higher the alcohol is on the ingredients list, the higher the concentration and the stronger it will be on the skin.” Most of the time, it’s best to leave these ingredients out of your skincare routine. Although some experts say simple alcohols do wonders as a spot treatment because it dries out pimples effectively and quickly.
Toners, when used properly with the correct ingredients based on your skin’s needs, are an important part of your regimen by providing additional cleansing, infusing nutrients to the skin, and maintaining the skin’s ideal pH level. But according to, a lifestyle website dedicated to African-American readers, alcohol-based toners can be counterproductive especially for “melanin-rich” people, like us Filipinos.
Marla Rene, founder and owner of Marla Reńe Skincare, explains that “these days there are so many wonderfully formulated facial sprays that are loaded with botanicals, moisture-drawing type of ingredients that don’t really need the alcohol So forget alcohol-based toners.” Aside from simple alcohols, there are also types of alcohols that can be beneficial to your skin and often referred to as “fatty alcohols” because they’re usually derived from natural oils like coconut and palm.
Even vitamin A (or retinol) and vitamin E, which are technically alcohols with high molecular weight, are two of the best ingredients you should look for when choosing any product for your skin. Fatty alcohols help seal in the moisture within your skin with their waxy properties.
According to Condé Nast-run health and beauty website, fatty alcohols “can also act like a moisturizer: They help to protect the skin, draw in a little bit of moisture, and enhance the natural lipid barrier.” But since it’s basically derived from oil, it could make your face even oilier, which could clog pores and then lead to acne.
So make sure to use these products with fatty alcohols sparingly. In choosing your skincare products, make sure to pay attention to the ingredients and choose the product that suits your skin type. Pro-tip: Ingredients are listed from the largest amount to the least, so if alcohols are first on the list, you should definitely double-check if it’s the right stuff for you.
If you have sensitive skin, look for a toner with skin-calming botanicals; for oily or acne-prone skin, look for a toner with salicylic acid or witch hazel; for dry skin, look for a toner infused with amino acids; if you have visibly large pores, look for a toner with alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) like glycolic acid; and if you have more mature skin, look for “hydrating ingredients include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, rose water, Sodium PCA, Lecithin”.
Want to find the right toner for you? For more expert-recommended skincare products, check out the, Share: : Are Alcohol-Based Toners Bad For Your Skin?