how to cure a hangover skin

Hangover skin is a thing – here’s how to deal with it

17th September 2020 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber

Whether it’s one too many glasses of wine during lockdown, or over-indulging during holidays and Christmas, there is such a thing as “hangover skin.”

It’s not necessarily caused by having a hangover, per se, but it describes those times you get breakouts, dullness, puffiness and dark circles after having too many treats, processed sugars, salt and alcohol.

You can read more about how your diet, and what you put in your body can manifest itself in your skin and hair in our Skin food: The best foods for clear, healthy skin – and why they work guide.

In summary though, if you’re not putting nutrients in, you won’t see the effects of nutrients on the outside. Healthy diets result in healthy skin and shiny hair. Drinking more water results in a more hydrated complexion.

We should note that we are no angels – we love chocolate and wine and we’re most certainly not trying to preach to you about cutting out all the fun things. That would be hypocritical. Instead, we’re simply explaining what these little indulgences do to your skin and how to handle it.

If anything, it might save you some money splurging on expensive moisturisers and serums by just drinking more water.

Hangover skin: What is it?

There is a growing body of research that shows a direct link between poor skin health and a diet rich in sugar, salt and alcohol.


“Research suggests that a diet high in processed or refined carbohydrates can lead to premature ageing,” Dr Raj Arora told mamabella. Dr. Arora is a GP and aesthetics doctor. She also works as an NHS GP with an interest in skin disease.

“Foods with a high sugar content have shown to activate inflammation in the skin, and sugar binds to collagen (essential protein in the skin) causing a glycation process to occur.

As a result the skin loses its natural elasticity and can become stiff. This can lead to premature ageing and inflammatory processes resulting in rosacea and acne.”


“Too much salt in the diet can also have a negative impact on the skin,” Dr Arora continued.

This is because diets high in salt can result in dehydration and skin hydration is key to maintaining a healthy skin barrier.

This permeable skin barrier keeps the skin moist and also blocks out toxins and free radicals.

Some studies have also shown a possible connection between the activation of inflammatory cells and the consumption of salt. This indicates that too much salt in the diet may lead to skin inflammation; resulting in exacerbation of conditions such as eczema, rosacea and even acne.

“It is therefore important to keep skin hydrated and to reduce consumption of dehydrating substances such as salt, alcohol or caffeine,” said Dr Arora.


Alcohol is another dehydrating substance. It acts as a diuretic and therefore makes us pass more urine resulting in dehydration.

Alcohol also triggers an inflammatory response in the skin and this can result in redness and flushing of the skin.

Again this can aggravate conditions such as rosacea but in general dehydration and inflammation are recipes for premature ageing.

FURTHER READING: What causes wrinkles – and how to prevent them

How to deal with hangover skin

Of course, not overindulging is the best way to prevent hangover skin but where’s the fun in that!? You can cut back if you think it’s a problem for your skin, or any other part of your like.

In lieu of doing this, FOREO skincare educator Chris Luckham suggests sticking to your regular skincare regime as best as possible, even during times of indulgence, parties (remember those) or when you’re staying away from home.

“This will be your saving grace during this period,” Chris said. “Give yourself a deep cleanse (never go to bed without removing your makeup), exfoliate twice a week and don’t forget to mask. A little facial massage will do wonders for the skin too!”


If you want a simple way to remember the skincare order:

CLEANSER cleans the skin

TONER removes traces of cleanser

TREATMENTS and SERUMS sort out the lower layers of your skin

EYE CREAM sorts out your eyes

MOISTURISER sorts out the upper layers of your skin and creates a barrier

SPF protects you from the sun

You can read more about how to layer skincare in our skincare order guide. 

There are also so-called ‘boosters’ you can add into your regular routine if you’re looking to get extra hydration and reduce redness or puffiness.

Take your usual masking routine a step further by looking for masks with ingredients to hydrate, soothe and calm the skin.

In particular, look out for ​hyaluronic acid, collagen (to improve elasticity), ​niacinamide (to target uneven skin tone, fine lines and dullness) as well as natural ingredients such as ​shea butter, olive and ​jojoba oil, to nourish and plump the skin. Caffeine is also believed to reduce swelling.

Using a ‘power-masking’ treatment device like FOREO’S ​UFO 2 will help as well. FOREO is one of our absolute favourite skincare brands.

We’re currently in the process of testing its FOREO UFO 2 masking device, its Bear Mini facial toner, and its Luna 3 cleanser and the UFO 2 makes masking as easy as applying moisturiser.

Instead of waiting 10-20 minutes – and sometimes more – for masks to sink into the skin, the UFO 2 use thermo therapy to soften and prep the skin, before opening up your pores. You then move it in circles around your face and neck to massage the mask serum into your skin for around two minutes.

Depending on the mask serum you’re using, the UFO 2 will combine this thermo therapy with LED light therapy to build collagen and banish dark circles.

READ NEXT: The science of serums: What is serum and what does serum do?

Some of the mask treatments use pulsations to massage the face, and relax tension, while others use a cryo function to shrink poor and reduce puffiness while lifting and firming the skin.

Our favourite mask is the new Cannabis Seed Oil. It contains cannabis sativa oil, chamomile and magnesium to help relax and calm the skin.

You can read more about the benefits of using cannabis in skincare in our What is CBD?  guide.

“You want to try cooling the skin as a cooling effect can firm the skin by constricting blood vessels so the skin will look less red or angry,” continued Chris. If you don’t have a FOREO device, this can be done simply by finishing your cleansing routine with cold water.

Lastly, you should apply an extra dose of serum to sink deeply into the skin and a rich moisturiser to lock the hydration in.

The dehydrating effects of salt and alcohol, according to Dr. Arora, can lead to puffiness, so a facial massage in the morning can help rid the skin of any unwanted fluid as well as boost circulation, and improve the texture of the skin.

If you don’t have a UFO 2, use your fingers to apply slight pressure and sweep in upwards motions towards the ears to help aid lymphatic drainage as well as to remove toxins.

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