We all love a yummy cocktail on a girls' night out. Mojitos, Bellinis, Caipirinhas, Strawberry Daiquiris, are just some of our favourite tipples. Ever since Sex and the City hit our screens 20 years ago with the drink of the nineties – the Cosmopolitan – the world has gone a little cocktail crazy. Yet while the drinks both look and taste amazing, some of our best-loved cocktails are not so fabulous for our complexions. And with Christmas not so far away, cocktail hour with friends will become more regular. But how do we know which concoctions are the worst offenders, health and beauty-wise?
"Alcohol is the fastest way to disrupt the skin," says Pure Optical's health specialist Tammy Richards. "Ultimately, alcohol is a toxin and holds practically no nutritional value. One of the main issues is dehydration. Alcohol effectively robs fluid from the skin causing it to look dull and speed up the ageing process. It also reduces your levels of Vitamin A which in turn, suppresses the production of collagen. This invites the skin to sag and fine lines to appear. Alcohol also plays havoc with the body’s blood pressure and causes redness of the skin, Rosacea and even broken veins." Eek, that's not good.
Here are Tammy's top 5 offending cocktails…
We're sorry, delicious Mojitos are on the list, sob! According to Tammy, the trouble with Mojitos are their high sugar content. "One Mojito contains an average of 2 tablespoons! We often drink more than one Mojito over the course of an evening which can lead to consuming up to 10 tablespoons of sugar throughout one evening. Excessive amounts of sugar causes inflammation as it travels to your gut and enters the bloodstream once processed. This causes the skin to become inflamed and redness to appear.
"If you are an acne sufferer, then drinking Mojitos is likely to trigger the condition. Due to a Mojitos high sugar content, the cocktail is regarded as ‘high’ on the glycaemic index. The glycaemic index refers to food that rapidly transforms into glucose once digested which in turn, raises the body’s insulin levels. It is the rise in insulin that results in the skin's inflammation and triggers Acne."
Anyone who's ever had a night drinking Margaritas will know their power – it's one strong cocktail. Tammy tells us: "Unfortunately, a Margarita is one of the worst cocktails to disrupt the skin. Not only is it full of sugar, but it also contains a hefty amount of salt. Any food or drink that contains a high amount of salt will lead to water retention when consumed. This leads to puffiness in the face which is often most noticeable around the eyes. "
Whatever your skin type, excessive salt can accentuate your concerns. As salt dehydrates the skin, it can cause dry skin to become much drier, flake and even itch. For those with oily skin types, their oil glands will work extra hard in order to make up for the moisture lost which leads to oilier skin than normal."
The Pornstar Martini
It's the UK's most popular cocktail, containing vodka, passion fruit juice, lime juice and prosecco – but it's bad news for the skin. "The likes of white wine and Prosecco are known to be the biggest triggers of Rosacea," says Tammy. "And therefore, the shot of prosecco found in a Pornstar Martini can really impact a Rosacea sufferers’ skin. Combined with its high sugar content due to its fruit juice, a Pornstar Martini can serve as the fastest route to flare-ups. The national Rosacea society found that nearly 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from Rosacea now limit their intake of alcohol."
Oh dear, this list is including all our favourites. We're not entirely surprised that a cocktail with both caffeine and alcohol is a no-no, but still, it hurts. Tammy explains: "Coffee is a key ingredient in an espresso martini and therefore, the drink is packed with caffeine. Caffeine can cause the body’s stress levels to soar which in turn, increases the production of insulin. This can trigger acne-prone skin and cause further inflammation. Caffeine also speeds up the ageing process as it dehydrates the skin, leaving it dry, dull and lacklustre. "
Long Island Iced Tea
It tastes wonderful, but wow can it give you a huge headache the day after. "A Long Island Iced Tea is packed with four different types of alcohol (vodka, tequila, rum and gin) and then finished with sugar-laden Coca-cola. This makes the cocktail incredibly high in calories and of course, sugar," says Tammy.
"A Long Island Iced Tea is also often served in a bigger glass than most cocktails, causing an even bigger impact on the skin. I strongly advise ordering a glass of water with each long island you have. This will rehydrate the skin as fast as possible and reduce the impact of the skin."
Before you say goodbye to your boozing days forever, there is one piece of good news. Clear drinks such as vodka, gin and tequila leave our systems faster than non-clear liquids, so the effect on the skin is limited. G&T all the way then…