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Will Smoking and Drinking Affect my Skin?

In a word, yes. Turns out there’s no such thing as a free party.
January 28, 2022
Man snapping a cigarette in half

Before you fire up another cigarette or knock back one more shot, remember that these short-term pleasures are doing long-term harm to your body. Most people know the general health hazards of smoking and drinking, but do you realize the impact on your skin?

Your face is one of the first things people notice. If your goal is to maintain a youthful look, or at least not age prematurely, take a minute to learn how drinking and smoking can damage your appearance.

For starters, drinking and smoking dehydrate the body, both inside and out. And you know nothing good ever comes from dry skin. 

Nicotine is a diuretic (which is why you may feel the need to pee more often when smoking). So is alcohol, which is also a desiccant, meaning that it has a powerful drying effect. Nicotine and alcohol deplete water and salts from your body. It’s chemistry. If you smoke and drink, it cannot be avoided.

Cigarette smoke will further dry your skin just from external contact, making it more wrinkled and gray over time. It’s the dehydration. Water loss causes skin to contract, forming wrinkles.

Even the math presents a very convincing argument against smoking. Research shows for every decade you smoke, your skin ages 14 years. Contact with second-hand smoke will also cause problems for your skin and overall health.

According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, studies have proven the connection between tobacco or alcohol use and premature skin aging. Besides the effects of dry skin, consuming two or more drinks a day can also lead to inflammation of the skin tissues. The result is redness and a bright ruddy complexion, which may not go away. Drinking in moderation can help, though abstinence is best. Alcohol over a period of years will steadily destroy collagen, which is what gives our skin its smooth elasticity. Cutting back or quitting drinking altogether will allow your skin to repair itself up to a point, but once the damage is done, dermal fillers may be your best hope for restoring a youthful appearance. If it comes to that, your dermatologist can recommend a course of treatment.

So. No more partying?

It may not be necessary to lurch from one extreme to another, such as total abstinence. Moderation is the key.

If you do choose to drink, an easy rule to remember is, “if the liquor’s clear, there’s less to fear.” In practical terms, this means your body will generally process and remove the alcohol in vodka, tequila, light rum and gin faster than other liquors, such as bourbon, Scotch and dark rum. So you’re minimizing the impact.

Remember, as we get older, our bodies take longer to process the effects of alcohol. Think about it. Recovering from that all-nighter in college sure was easier than rebounding the next day from even 3 drinks once you’re in your mid-30s. The same applies to the impact of smoking and drinking on the skin. By the time you’re in your 40s, it takes 10 times as long for alcohol to leave your body as it did when you were 21.

The other trick to minimizing alcohol’s effects is to stay hydrated during a night of drinking. Alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water. And be sure to drink a glass of water before going to sleep. One extra midnight trip to the bathroom is a small price to pay for taking better care of your body.

Smoking is its own hazard


Those who smoke may love the pleasurable sensation of a nicotine jolt, especially when their bodies come to depend upon the drug, but there’s no avoiding the fact that smoking causes cancer – and not just within the lungs. Carcinoma of the skin, which is the leading cancer in the United States, can be caused by tobacco smoke just as it can be triggered by prolonged exposure to UV rays. Quitting smoking will add years to your life and eliminate unnecessary damage to your skin.

As for the positive impact of quitting, it won’t take long to see results. Your complexion will brighten within about a month after you stop smoking. Within six months to a year, the visible effects of smoking will virtually disappear. With willpower there is hope.

Vitamins can help

Normal cell. Cell attacked by free radicals. Cell with oxidative stress.

Take Vitamin C to restore your skin faster. Tobacco depletes Vitamin C in the body. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps the body defend against what are known as free radicals – molecules that are produced from sun exposure, X-rays and, yes, tobacco smoke. Free radicals might play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases, according to The Mayo Clinic.

To reduce the effects of alcohol after a hard night of partying, take a Vitamin B complex or B-12 vitamin pill. Wash it down with a tall glass of water. It won’t eliminate a hangover, but may significantly reduce the symptoms. The body uses Vitamin B to metabolize alcohol, so the more you drink, the greater the loss of this essential nutrient.

When our bodies lack adequate vitamins and minerals for growth and good health, we feel lousy. Even if alcohol didn’t cause skin damage, it’s still hard to look your best when you feel ghastly after a night of drinking. For good results, take a Vitamin B pill during the party and first thing the next morning.

For even better results, quit smoking and curb your alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day. More than your skin is at stake.

Let Walk-in Dermatology Take Care of You and Your Skin

If you have concerns about any skin condition and need dependable answers fast, you don’t have to wonder, worry or wait. Walk-in Dermatology is here to keep you healthy. Our team of dermatologists and experienced healthcare staff will address your concerns and provide the necessary care for all your skin conditions. We can set up a Video Visit and even prescribe medications remotely, or you can schedule an appointment with us online. The choice is yours. But don’t wait until the problem gets worse. Contact us today at (516) 621-1982.