Does Alcohol Cause Acne?

does alcohol cause acne
"And even if alcohol is something that you are able to enjoy in moderation, it is still worth considering how it affects your health - and your acne."

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email



How Alcohol Affects Acne


Alcohol is a big deal – and a very personal issue for me.  It has affected me deeply throughout my entire life.  I understand how alcohol can affect us physically, emotionally and mentally – and how it can sabotage our relationships and deeply disrupt our families.  I married two alcoholics and struggled in these relationships for almost 20 years.  Thankfully my husband and I have now been sober for almost 8 years, and it has been life changing. 

And even if alcohol is something that you are able to enjoy in moderation, it is still worth considering how it affects your health – and your acne. 

Our culture has been conditioned to accept drinking as a normal part of socializing – and often an essential part of connecting with others.  During the last year, alcohol consumption has increased 54% in the US, and online sales of alcohol have increased by 262%.  This is a really big deal.

The truth is that alcohol is also a very toxic substance that can upset our physiology and compromise our health, and it is important to learn what is really going on in your body when you consume alcohol.  Empowering yourself with this knowledge might make all the difference in your clear skin journey.



The answer is —it affects acne a lot.  Acne is a complex medical condition. It is a symptom and not a diagnosis – which means that acne is a sign that there is an imbalance in the body. If you are part of my 7-Week Clear Skin Program, you are familiar with the root causes of acne and what is going on in your body to create acne.  And alcohol exacerbates all those imbalances.



Alcohol deeply impacts our physiology, and especially those factors that can contribute to acne.

    •  Imbalanced blood sugar. Research shows people who stop drinking have a 16% reduction in blood sugar within a month. That is pretty significant because alcohol is sugar. 
    • Poor detoxification. Acne sufferers are notorious for not being optimal detoxifiers but when you drink alcohol, alcohol is automatically first in line to become detoxified by the body. It pushes any hormones into the back of the line so alcohol can detoxify first. Hormones get backed up and can aggravate hormonal acne.
    • Damaged gut lining. Alcohol can cause and worsen leaky gut, which is a condition that occurs when the cells lining the gut are damaged.  When this happens, particles enter the bloodstream that are not supposed to be there – and inflammation is usually the result.  
    • Disrupted microbiome.  Alcohol can damage the microbiome, which triggers the production of inflammatory cytokines and leads to inflammation throughout the body.
    • Depleted nutrient status.  Alcohol prevents the pancreas from releasing digestive enzymes that break down nutrients so they can be absorbed in the body. This is especially true for B vitamins and zinc.
    • Increased cortisol.  Alcohol increases cortisol levels in the body by disrupting the HPA axis.
    • Sleep disruption.  If you have a drink, you may find you fall asleep better, but the quality of sleep is actually compromised. Alcohol disrupts the quality of our REM sleep which is quite restorative, which can affect our health and our skin.
    • Dehydration. When our skin is dehydrated, our pores look larger and our wrinkles are more prominent.
    • Redness. Alcohol will dilate our blood vessels in our skin, which makes our skin look red and inflamed.


The bottom line is that alcohol exacerbates acne in multiple ways – and cutting alcohol out can drastically improve your health and your skin.  Alcohol counteracts all of the excellent diet, lifestyle and supplement choices that you are making daily – and if you are drinking daily there is a big chance that you are sabotaging your clear skin journey.   



Can I drink while trying to heal my acne?

While on your clear skin journey, I do not recommend the use of alcohol. Alcohol will likely cancel any efforts that you are making — diet, lifestyle, supplements, stress reduction.

How long is that period? 

It can be anywhere from a month to three months. If acne is really, really bad and inflamed, it might even take a little bit longer than that.

Can I drink alcohol once my acne has cleared?

Once your body is balanced, once your gut is in good shape, once your skin is nice and clear, then you can tolerate a bit of alcohol. And according to the CDC, women should drink no more than one drink per day if they are completely healthy. For acne patients, I suggest even less than that because alcohol compromises our detoxification systems so much!  Two to three drinks per week is what I recommend for my patients that have clear skin and a balanced body.

What is the best alcohol to drink? 

Remember: No alcohol is better.

  • Dry wine. Dry wines are good because most of the sugar has been converted to alcohol in the fermentation process.
  • Vodka and soda. Vodka is a clear alcohol. It does not contain any excess sugars. There are no juice or sweeteners that can further dysregulate blood sugar levels.


Drinking Tips

  • Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Always drink it with food. 
  • Rehydrate.  For every alcoholic drink you consume, be sure to have an extra glass of water to compensate for the dehydrating action of alcohol.
  • Always support your liver. If you are going to drink alcohol and you are prone to acne, take some liver support. In my 7 Week Clear Skin Program, I share the best types of liver support for those dealing with acne.



Drinking is a big part of our life. I understand how difficult it is to stop. But when you do stop, the benefits will be unbelievable –the health benefits, the emotional benefits, the mental benefits. I have been there. I lived both with and without alcohol and nobody could ever pay me enough money to have a drink again. That is how big the difference really is!


P.S.  My 7 Week Clear Skin Program is super comprehensive and it is going to teach you how to heal all the different root causes of acne so that you can have clear skin and better health than ever before. Check out my 7 Week Clear Skin Program.












Subscribe to the Clear Skin Newsletter

Rebalance your body and cultivate the most beautiful you.

More To Explore

Get In touch with
Dr. Stacey Shillington

drop us a line and keep in touch

best Acne Treatment

Pin It on Pinterest