It’s no secret that a night out on the town isn’t exactly the best for your body. What starts off as a margarita leads to a fun few hours of bar hopping that easily turns into a full day of headaches, dry mouth, and nausea the next morning. We’ve all been there. But the hangover doesn’t stop there. That post-partying pain and suffering extends to your hair, scalp, and nails as well. To find out just how drinking alcohol affects your magnificent mane, we sat down with Dr. Jessica Wu, a Los Angeles dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face.
Alcohol Dehydrates Your Scalp and Hair
“Alcohol is a diuretic” explains Dr. Wu, “specifically, alcohol interferes with a hormone called “antidiuretic hormone” or ADH that helps your body retain fluids.” All of those sugary mixed drinks add up. Without proper hydration either before, after, or during a night of drinking, a couple of cocktails can lead to full-system dehydration. “This leads to dry, flaky skin as well as brittle hair that can be more prone to split ends and breaking.” says Dr. Wu. To combat this, she recommends drinking one glass of water for every glass of alcohol you consume. Not only will this help keep those thirsty tresses at bay, but it will also help improve any other hangover symptoms you might experience.
Excessive Drinking Leads to Problems with Hair Growth
According to Dr. Wu, the long term effects of drinking are more serious than a simple hangover. “Drinking (especially heavy drinking) can seriously disrupt hair growth,” she says. Without certain vitamins and proteins, it can be difficult to maintain your mane. “So if you’re getting more calories from your drinks than from your meals, over time your hair will get weaker, become less manageable, and may even fall out.” Dr. Wu adds. Yikes.
Post-Party Care is Key
“If you’ve been drinking in a smoky bar, I’d suggest washing your hair as soon as you can” suggests Dr. Wu, “cigarette smoke contains toxins that can break down the keratin in your hair.” She recommends using a cleansing conditioner instead of a regular shampoo to clean your hair without making it more brittle.
Focus on Nutrition
“I also recommend eating protein” Dr. Wu says, “specifically, the amino acids that make up keratin are found in eggs, poultry, pork, oats, and broccoli.” If you’re vegetarian or vegan, try including lentils, kidney beans, and chickpeas in your diet. “These are high in zinc, which is essential for strong hair” she adds. Those who drink regularly might want to consider a daily hair supplement containing biotin and silica to promote hair growth. “Collagen supplements and powders can also help with hair growth” says Dr. Wu, “just be sure to check the label so you know whether it comes from beef or fish (in case you are vegetarian).”