Hannah Frye


December 22, 2022

Hannah Frye

mbg Assistant Beauty Editor

By Hannah Frye

mbg Assistant Beauty Editor

Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.

Hangover Skin 101: How To Help Your Skin Bounce Back The Day After Drinking

Image by Leandro Crespi / Stocksy

December 22, 2022

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As New Year’s Eve rolls around, so does the impending hangover the day after. While there are definitely better ways to spend the first day of the new year than hungover on the couch, sometimes it’s simply inevitable.

Plus, having a fun, champagne-filled celebration with friends and family just might make the queasy feeling worth it. (After all, well-being is about balance!) However, your skin may beg to differ. To help you avoid dull, puffy, sallow skin the day after drinking, we asked a pro esthetician for the 101. Trust us, you’ll want to save this page for future reference.


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How drinking affects your skin. 

In order to properly revive your skin, you should first know exactly how drinking affects your complexion. “Alcohol dehydrates the body, creates inflammation, lowers immunity, and interferes with nutrient absorption, all of which directly affect the health of your skin,” organic esthetician Katie Sobelman tells mbg.

So, first and foremost, your goal should be to rehydrate the skin from the inside out and decrease inflammation. But that’s not all: “If you happen to fall asleep with your makeup on, that increases your risk for breakouts and further disrupts skin health,” Sobelman says.

If you can, do your very best to cleanse your skin before falling asleep. While this isn’t always possible, it’s worth the friendly nudge. To set yourself up for success, consider laying out your skin care products before going out or placing a note on your pillow to remind yourself—you’ll be glad you did.

What to do the day after drinking.

Consider the below a skin care rescue:


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Step 1: Make a hydration plan. 

Apart from prepping your cleansers and tonics to avoid sleeping in your makeup, you should also prep your body for alcohol intake. Do this by drinking loads of water, and consider adding electrolytes to your beverage the day before drinking, leading up to your big night out, and the morning after.

Skip the sports drinks loaded with sugar and opt for something more natural, like these Hydration Mixes from Cure—they have zero added sugars and contain oral rehydration salts, which, according to the World Health Organization, offer comparable hydration results to an IV drip.

Not only will proper hydration help your complexion the next day, but your body will be just as grateful for the additional H2O.


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Step 2: De-puff your face. 

As you probably already know, your skin can naturally grow puffy in the morning, and especially the day after drinking. The answer: facial icing. See, cooler temperatures dial down inflammation, which is often the culprit in swollen skin; it also constricts your blood vessels, which may ease the appearance of dark circles.

But taking a raw ice cube to your skin isn’t the best idea, as it can result in increased sensitivity and make your skin angrier (it can even lead to broken capillaries for some). Instead, use an ice roller, ice globes, or dunk your face in a bowl of ice water for around 30 seconds.

This step will feel so refreshing and may even help minimize your hangover headache. However, if chilly tools aren’t your thing, a gua sha routine can also help de-puff the face and trigger lymphatic drainage–here’s the how-to.

Step 3: Use an enzyme cleanser or mask. 

Once you’ve hydrated in the morning, it’s time to start your skin care routine. Sobelman recommends beginning the process with an enzyme cleanser or face mask to gently slough off dead skin cells.

“This will allow hydrating products to penetrate better without causing additional irritation since enzymes don’t dive into the deeper layers of the skin,” she explains. That said, fruit enzymes may provide a better form of exfoliation for the day after drinking compared to chemical exfoliants, like AHAs and BHAs, or physical scrubs.

One A+ pick: the Image Skincare VITAL C hydrating enzyme mask. With a cocktail of stable vitamin C, natural fruit enzymes, and hyaluronic acid, this mask is just what you need to start your routine with a fresh canvas.


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Step 4: Go in with a hydrating + antioxidant serum. 

Hungover skin desperately needs topical hydration, so opt for a hyaluronic acid serum. This is the key to replenishing moisture in the skin and getting your complexion back to a bouncy, dewy state.

For even better results, apply your HA serum to damp skin post-cleanse. Because hyaluronic acid is a humectant, it will pull water into the skin, simultaneously offering a plumping effect.

Next, call upon antioxidant serums, like those with vitamin C. Antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals that cause oxidative stress and lead to more inflammation—here’s a list of our favorites if you’re ready to shop.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can precede this step with a hydrating essence. Sobelman recommends the Luzern The Essence toner as it’s packed with HA, antioxidants, ceramides, and probiotics to feed your skin’s microbiome.

Step 5: A rich moisturizer + SPF. 

After you apply your hydrating serum, go in with a rich moisturizer. Look for ingredients like shea butter or mango butter for a smoothing effect, ceramides, and botanical oils like squalane, grapeseed, jojoba, sunflower, and rosehip.

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, finding a moisturizer that deeply hydrates without clogging pores isn’t always easy, so here’s our curated list of the best 13 options for oily skin, if you’re in the market.

Always top off your routine with SPF, even if you don’t plan on basking in the sun on the first day of the new year. Sitting by a window, taking a morning stroll to get breakfast, or even driving in the car will put your skin at risk of UV damage.


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What to skip.

On the flip side, stow these items until your skin bounces back:

  • Harsh exfoliants and retinol: As mentioned above, your skin is more sensitive the day after drinking due to dehydration. Skip any harsh exfoliating treatments and retinol on this day, and focus on recovery. To gently exfoliate, opt for enzyme cleansers or masks instead. 
  • Clay masks: When you picture recovery skin care in your mind, you might think of clay masks. While this might seem like a nice ritual, it’s not fit for hangover skin. “Clay draws out impurities, but it also pulls out the oil necessary to keep skin moisturized,” Sobelman says. If you must use a clay mask, use a pre-formulated product rich with oils, or mix in jojoba oil to your raw clay powder to minimize dryness.
  • Astringent toners: Astringent toners with ingredients like witch hazel and tea tree oil may be great for managing oil on the daily, but skip this step after going out. These products are designed to suck up excess oil, which you shouldn’t need when you’re hungover, as your skin is likely already more dry than usual. 

Best products for hangover skin

The takeaway.

There’s nothing wrong with ringing in the New Year with some celebratory drinks, but if your skin feels less than stellar the day after, keep these tips in mind. Prep for your big night out by boosting hydration via electrolyte powder. The next morning, hydrate again, ice your skin, use an enzyme mask or cleanser, apply a hyaluronic acid serum and vitamin C, and top everything off with moisturizer and SPF. Now that you have your skin care covered, check out our full guide to hangover prevention tips.