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How alcohol affects your looks

As well as the beer belly and drinker’s nose, alcohol can affect your looks in other ways.

Dry wrinkled skin

Alcohol causes your body and skin to lose fluid (dehydrate).

Dry skin wrinkles more quickly and can look dull and grey.

Alcohol’s diuretic (water-loss) effect also causes you to lose vitamins and nutrients. For example, vitamin A. This is important for skin health.

Skin problems

Alcohol can cause the skin condition rosacea to flare up.

Symptoms of rosacea include:

  • redness
  • dilated blood vessels
  • small red bumps
  • pus-filled spots on the face

It can also cause broken blood vessels and redness on your face. 90% of patients with rosacea who cut back on alcohol say it helps to reduce flare-ups.


Alcohol can cause water retention in your face. This makes your face look bloated and puffy.

Bloodshot eyes

Alcohol can irritate the blood vessels on the surface of your eyes, making them bloodshot.

Dry, thinning hair

Alcohol dries your hair as well as your skin, making it more likely to break and split.


People who have been drinking can smell bad. The liver breaks down most of the alcohol you drink so that it can be removed from the body. But some alcohol leaves the body through your breath, sweat and urine.

Page last reviewed: 23 September 2022
Next review due: 23 September 2025