What Happens When Your Skin Has a Hangover?

BComing back from a hangover that comes from a night on the town (or, let’s be real — even a girl’s night) requires you to pull out all the stops: avoiding direct sunlight, guzzling electrolyte-enhanced water , and naturally napping. While you’re dealing with weird stomach issues or a gnawing headache, though, there’s another *big* organ (the largest, to be exact) that could use some TLC too: your skin.

“Having a hangover is like being chased by a bear — it triggers the same reaction in your body,” says Mona Gohara, MD, a Danbury, CT-based dermatologist. “That includes a cortisol spike and dehydration of all non-vital organs, such as the skin.”

While those yikes-inducing side effects are bad, there’s also this: Shereene Idriss, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist adds that alcohol leads to the constriction of blood vessels, resulting in “dull, ruddy-looking skin next to a bloating” and puffiness.” To make matters worse, chronic booze consumption can lead to a loss of skin elasticity, which basically means wrinkles and fine lines come into play or make their claim to your complexion firm.

And for some, namely those with rosacea, alcohol has a direct link to skin concerns. “Both red and white wine have been implicated as factors that can trigger rosacea flares,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, an NYC dermatologist. Before you cancel all the plans, but the good news: there is a way forward, and it starts this way.

Keep reading to learn how to pre- and rehabilitate your skin before and after a night of drinking.

how do you treat a hangover?
Photo: Stocksy/Leandro Crespic

How to prepare your skin before going outside.

Do you remember the prom night when you pampered your skin for o’clock before putting on your dress? Ask a dermatologist, and they’ll tell you to repeat that same ritual for every big night out.

For starters, pour yourself a nice big glass of H2O because when there’s a big event on the calendar you need to hydrate days in advance, which is a good idea right now – isn’t it? Don’t kick your feet up just yet, though: You don’t need any of those dead skin cells that have parked themselves on your complexion, so Dr. Idriss advises you to start by exfoliating with a glycolic acid. This is partly because you want your party skin to look that way glowingbut also because dead skin on your complexion can look extra dull the next morning.

Then, just three days before your night on the town, Shasa Hu, MD, a Miami-based dermatologist recommends sticking to a consistent schedule of hydrating and moisturizing masks. “Topically, I love Dr. Brandt Hydro Biotic Recovery Sleeping Mask for optimal prehabbing,” she explains. “This soothing overnight mask contains a unique combination of probiotics, ceramides and fatty acids to prepare your skin for all the inflammation and dryness you will experience later.”

Top off that post-mask goodness with an antioxidant-rich serum like vitamin C, suggests Dr. Zeichner. “Alcohol has also been shown to reduce antioxidant defenses in the skin,” he shares, so increasing your dose of topical antioxidants can help protect against free radical damage that might occur. After your skin care ahempregame is packed – you’re all set to wear your signature makeup look and meet your BFFs.

how do you treat a hangover?
Photo: Unsplash/Tim Wright

How to recover post-GNO.

Fast forward to the next day and you are officially in full recovery mode. According to Dr. Hu, it takes an average of about 24 hours for the body to fully recover. (In other words, #selfcaresunday is ON.) First, choose hydrators with extra electrolytes, such as coconut water. dr. Hu explains that drinking it will restore the inner balance you need to glow on the outside. Plus, she recommends taking a probiotic to give your gut a little extra love.

Now turn your attention to that puffy skin and those dark circles. dr. Gohara says the latter happens because you’re dehydrated and it makes those blood vessels under the skin more prominent, so you’ll want to look for ingredients like caffeine in the 100 percent pure coffee bean eye cream that boost blood flow and ultimately help minimize that effect.

Focus your (puffed) eyes on your complexion and apply a moisturizing serum with an ingredient such as hyaluronic acid. It’s a moisture magnet that can hold 1000 times its weight in water, meaning it will fight for every last drop in your skin to stay there and bring you back to your A-game. Finish by topping it all off with an occlusive moisturizer like the Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream to “form a protective seal over the skin’s surface to lock in moisture.” You can massage it in with a jade roller, which Dr. Gohara likes for their cooling properties (many people keep them in the fridge for an enhanced chilling effect) and because they help draw moisture out of the skin.

Hopefully tomorrow morning you will be greeted with your glowing skin as usual, and if you also have a text – “What are you doing tonight?” – at least you now know what to do.

Here’s how to treat other skin problems like sunburns and summer breakouts.

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