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February 27, 2009

Is Drinking Damaging Your Skin?

MC's resident dermatologist and psychiatrist

red cocktail

Photo Credit: T. Schierlitz/Getty Images

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Personal consult with Dr. Amy Wechsler, MC's resident dermatologist and psychiatrist.

Q: Are moderate drinking and secondhand smoke damaging to skin?
Put it this way: I've seen a number of 20-somethings who've partied hard in smoky clubs and now look 10 years older than their chronological ages. For starters, avoid cigarette smoke at all costs. The smoke itself breaks down collagen, damages DNA, and constricts the blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the skin's surface by up to 30 percent, resulting in a duller-looking complexion. Waitresses, bartenders, and casino workers typically show premature signs of aging because of the constant exposure. The closest thing we have to a preventive measure is applying an antioxidant-rich cream as a layer of protection. As for drinking alcohol, anyone who has suffered a hangover knows a major side effect is dehydration, which naturally causes skin to look more wrinkled. You can offset this to a certain extent by drinking a glass of water for every glass of alcohol. And why not opt for red wine as your beverage of choice so you get a nice dose of antioxidants?

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