We live in times when our looks are constantly subjected to harsh judgments. We need to have slim bodies, vibrant skin and gorgeous hair and nails and keep youthful look as long as we can. More often, our success depends on our appearance and not always on our professional credentials. There is nothing wrong with striving to be beautiful and being attractive. I am all for it! When we like ourselves and our bodies, we are more confident and happier. Unfortunately, the lifestyle we lead nowadays doesn’t help us in preserving our beauty.

We work long hours, commute long hours, are stressed beyond measure, have to keep up with technological advancements and our social lives revolve around eating and drinking. Often times, we blame our skin problems on food, sun, stress, lack of sleep, oxygen and rest and it is all true but we forget about an important factor that makes us look older and contributes to our fading beauty. Alcohol… This controversial beverage has been blamed for all the damage it does by some and revered for its health benefits by others.

Yes, there are actually studies that indicate that alcohol has some health benefits – when you drink in moderation. According to the US Government Dietary Guidelines, a moderate level of drinking is up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. A drink is either 5 fluid ounces of wine, 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled liquor. But many times all that stress and a desire to relax causes us to drink more than we realize and that can have detrimental effect on our beauty routine and our appearance!

So let us take a closer look how alcohol affects our skin:

• Alcohol dehydrates our body, including the skin – our largest organ. Dehydration manifests itself in the form of dry skin. Dry skin can look scaly and flaky and definitely not attractive. In addition, dry skin can lead to aging markers like crow’s feet and other fine lines.

• Alcohol causes damage to the skin. Too much drinking deprives the skin of Vitamin A, making it look lifeless. Vitamin A serves as an important antioxidant that replaces old skin with new skin cells, helping skin have that natural glow. Vitamin A is also extremely important in the production of collagen. Lower amounts of collagen cause our skin to lose elasticity. Our facial skin is already very delicate and we are constantly exposed to pollution, smog, smoke and the sun. By drinking in excess, we actually speed up the aging process because we are already losing collagen and elasticity as we age.

• Alcohol causes bloat. Because alcohol is dehydrating, the body retains what water it has. This shows up as a bloated “beer” belly. In addition to that, alcohol can cause facial bloat due to absorbed water that is stored in our faces as our body is deprived of the necessary fluids. This makes our cheeks look puffy and gives the appearance of heavy bags under eyes. Too much alcohol combined with a general lack of sleep can exacerbate these symptoms.

• Alcohol’s detrimental effect on the liver ultimately manifests itself on the face giving it a “sickly” appearance. The liver’s main function is to remove toxins from the body, and if it is focused on breaking down alcohol, those toxins will stay in our system instead of being removed. Those toxins show themselves as blemishes, blotches and a colorless complexion. And then there’s the cellulite; many believe the toxins in alcohol contribute to its build up.

• The redness in the skin which occurs from drinking alcohol can turn into broken capillaries and visible veins. The capillary dilation from alcohol intake can eventually dilate the capillaries so much that they burst, creating visible red and purple veins, especially around the nose and on the cheeks.

• Last but not least, alcohol not only doesn’t have any nutritional value but it depletes the body of the essential nutrients it needs. The more we drink the more nutrient depletion occurs. Many nutrients act as sources of oxygen for the body, particularly for the skin, and the deficiency of oxygen in the skin weakens it against harmful free radicals in the environment.

Apart from the above mentioned effects on our looks, alcohol can lead to liver disease, brain damage, heart disease and even contribute to breast cancer. Most of us know that alcoholism is a disease and heavy drinking can cause a lot of damage to our heath in the long term. However, it’s the amount and frequency of your drinking that really matters. So before you reach out for that 3rd beer try to remember that everything is for the people but the key is moderation. Try to keep a healthy balance, enjoy yourself, and take good care of yourself.

Margo Gladys is a certified health and wellness coach, whose specialty is helping women attain beauty and confidence from within. She offers one-on-one consultations, as well as personally designed holistic programs for weight loss and management, skin enhancement and overall health improvement. Sessions are conducted in person, via Skype or over the phone.