Yikes: This Is What Alcohol Does to Your Hair

Updated 06/01/19

 Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld

We already knew that a night of cocktailing isn't exactly the best thing for our skin—the sugary and dehydrating properties of alcohol leave us prone to dryness and puffiness, among other things. But here's another not-so-fun fact: Drinking can actually mess with your hair, too. It makes sense, but… ugh.

"Alcohol can negatively affect our hair in multiple ways," Dr. Robert Dorin, hair specialist and medical director of True & Dorin Medical Group in New York City, told us. "Our hair requires constant nourishment, and healthy hair relies on how hydrated our bodies are. Consuming excessive alcohol can leave hair dry and brittle." This is probably pretty in-line with everything you've ever known about alcohol: it dehydrates you. It's why water is the only real way to prevent a hangover (although sometimes, depending on how much you're drinking, it can't be helped.) Not only should you be using masks to restore your dry hair, you should be using hair oils and other moisturizing products to keep it from drying out.

Once it's already dried, there's only so much you can do.

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And, because our nights out don't exist in a vaccuum (as much as we wish they would sometimes,) temporary dryness isn't the only problem drinking can present for your locks. There are longterm effects, too. Our strands rely on zinc and folic acid to maintain their strength and thickness, and alcohol can negatively affect these nutrient levels, which, according to Dorin, leaves us prone to more loss and breakage. The reason you feel depleted of nutrients the day after drinking is because you are, and your hair suffers for it.

This is where all those hair-enhancing pills and vitamins you see advertised all over Instagram and Youtube come in handy—they restore the essential nutrients hair needs. If you're someone who doesn't drink and eats healthy, you don't need them, which is why people occasionally say they don't work. They do, they just don't add anything for people whose nutrients aren't at least slightly depleted. Unfortunately, however, not all of us can be perfectly healthy all the time—supplement companies get a significant chunk of their business from people whose diets and lifestyles aren't always balanced.

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Of course, the obvious best solution is to drink in moderation, but there are a few other things that can help in conjunction with this. "It is also important to eat a balanced diet consisting of proper nutrients, vitamins, and protein, and to also drink plenty of water," says Dr. Dorin. Although no one was questioning it, it turns out everyone was right about that one glass of water per drink ratio. "Hydration is key to healthy, shiny, hair." You should also take your supplements regularly, and chase a night out with a hydrating hair mask for good measure.

It's an act of self-care that will make your hangover a little more bearable.

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