According to a recent study that will pain those who like their pool vacay with a side of Margaritas, drinking alcohol makes it more likely that your skin will burn at a faster rate. The German study, published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, exposed a group of male participants to the exact same level of sun, and found that even with sunscreen, their skin burned more quickly if they had been drinking alcohol.
Researchers believe that the reason behind these results is related to pigments called carotenoids in the skin. Typically, these yellow, orange, and red pigments help block the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays, but when you drink alcohol, the level of carotenoids decreases. As these antioxidants decrease, the skin becomes more sensitive to UV damage and therefore will burn faster. Previous studies have concluded that the regular consumption of alcohol causes lower concentrations of beta carotene in the skin, leading to similar results.
To take the study’s significance one step further, it might also explain why regular alcohol consumers have a higher probability of developing certain kinds of skin cancer.
While a German scientific study probably isn’t going to keep you from cracking open a beer the next time you hit the beach this summer, maybe you should keep it in mind before you crack your sixth or seventh.