An alcohol red face happens because of a dilation of the blood vessels in the face after consuming alcohol. Often referred to as alcohol flush reaction, this is one of more recognisable signs of an alcohol intolerance and can happen for a variety of reasons that we will discuss in this article.
The human body is a marvelously complex system. But did you know that our body also communicates with us?
Indeed, our bodies have the ability to inform us of when an organ is not functioning properly or when something compromises its flawless performance.
When your face turns red after you drink alcohol, what does your body want to tell you? Is this a sign that something is wrong?
What is a red face from alcohol telling you?
Intense redness and/or red flushes on the cheeks (and sometimes on the neck and shoulders) indicates that the body cannot process the ingested alcohol in an efficient manner. This flush response (more commonly known as Asian flush) affects more than 50% of East Asians, but you can also have Asian flush if you are not Asian.
Because one of the most common, and most noticeable, symptoms is a red face, many mistakenly confuse it for a skin condition or skin problem. However, a red face from alcohol is far deeper than just at skin-level issue and results from a malfunction in the metabolism of alcohol.
While often handed down through families from generation to generation, the alcohol red face can happen to those with various skin tones, nationalities and ages.
Not Everyone Understands How Flushing Holds You Back. We Do.
Rachel from Perth, Australia had this to say about Sunset Alcohol Flush Support: "I used to get drunk after ONE drink and my entire body would turn extremely red. It was embarrassing especially at work functions. I was skeptical of Sunset but was willing to give it a go. It TOTALLY worked. I had four drinks last night and I wasn't red at all. I've just ordered my second bottle and can't imagine being without it."GET SUNSET TODAY WITH OUR 'FLUSH-FREE' GUARANTEE
There are some products that prevent this extreme blushing, our favorite being Sunset. Not only do they stop the reaction and control of the redness, but they are also infused with very potent antioxidants, Vitamin C, and other active ingredients that help in solving the underlying cause of the reaction.
But before we get into details about Sunset, let’s take a look at the main reason why this red flushing reaction occurs in the first place.
Reasons why you get a red face from alcohol
It’s been known for quite some time that consuming alcohol induces blood pressure, but that’s not the biggest reason why you start to look like Santa after only one glass of wine. The actual reason why your face turns red is because of its inability to properly metabolize the very same alcohol you’re drinking.
Other alcohol flushing symptoms:
A lot of these might sound like hangover symptoms many experience a day after drinking alcohol. However, for some, these symptoms may accompany the alcohol red face immediately after drinking alcohol. In extreme cases, they can be felt after just a few sips.
So why does my face go red when I drink?
When we drink, our body uses the liver to break down and metabolise the alcohol. While it’s doing that, the alcohol gets converted into acetaldehyde, a toxin, which is further broken down into acetic acid. This is eventually broken down into carbon dioxide and water.
Sounds like a simple process. But what happens in the case of people who get a red face from alcohol?
In these cases, the process gets paused right after the alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde. This causes accumulation of this poisonous and potentially very dangerous toxin, which needs a long time to get out of the body’s system. As it builds up, it causes many unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms before the body is able to get rid of it.
The propery metabolism of alcohol gets paused because of a defect in to main enzymes. The first enzyme is responsible for turning alcohol into acetaldehyde, whereas the second one turns the acetaldehyde into CO2 and water.
In the case of people who get a red face from alcohol, both of these enzymes don’t function properly; the first one working too fast, while the second one not working at all. Therefore, the alcohol quickly turns into the dangerous compound acetaldehyde, while this harmful toxin does not get converted into the harmless CO2 and water.
Instead, acetaldehyde accumulates in the body, causing the red face and all other symptoms mentioned above.
So not only does this reaction cause uncomfortable and embarrassing symptoms, it also comes with a health risk of accumulating too much toxic acetaldehyde in the body.
Like we mentioned before, your body is sending you a clear signal that something is wrong by triggering the red facial flushing.
How to Stop the Alcohol Red Face
Even though there is still no known cure for the underlying genetic cause of these symptoms, there are a couple of ways you can manage them and even prevent the alcohol red face from happening.
Limit alcohol intake
The first one is obvious, limit your alcohol intake and consume light-colored, chilled drinks like white wine or champagne. This way, the risk of you blushing will be much lower and you'll consume the cold drinks much slower. However, this technique will not get rid of the problem altogether. It may be less intense, but it’s not a solution.
Off-label antihistamine use (not a good idea)
Some people choose to reduce their red face from alcohol by using antihistamines usually intended to calm stomach acids. However, they are many reasons why this is not a good idea.
You shouldn’t drink too much alcohol while using an antihistamine, as these blockers increase the rate of your blood alcohol content, meaning that you’ll get drunk faster than you normally do.
Even though you may experience reduced redness, your blood alcohol level will be much higher than usual. In addition, antihistamines do not reduce the level of toxic acetaldehyde in your system, so that will continue to build up while you drink and pose a risk to your health.
You can read more here about the risks of using Pepcid AC, Zantac and other antacids for Asian flush.
The third and most successful way in which you can stop a red face from alcohol, is by using supplements that regulate and reverse the flushing. Our Sunset pills to be exact! They are an all-natural option and are extremely effective when it comes to alcohol flush prevention.
Sunset works in two ways that complement each other. Firstly, it helps the enzyme responsible for turning the alcohol into acetaldehyde by assisting it to work more efficiently. And secondly, if there are any leftovers, the histamine blockade will not allow for the red flushes to happen, thus preventing this not so pleasant reaction. You can take this kind of supplement before drinking, or after the flushes occur – as it will have the same effect.
We've received a lot of emails from long-term customers thanking us for creating Sunset and putting an end to their alcohol red face problem. Many of them were also curious as to how it actually works. This is why we thought it might be useful to explain the scientific basis of Sunset Alcohol Flush Support and how it stops a red face from alcohol.
All of the ingredients we pack into the Sunset capsules each provide an important standalone function to help your body fight the flush provoking toxins from alcohol. In addition to this, many of the ingredients also amplify the effectiveness of others and in turn raise the efficacy of the formula as a whole.
The key to this effectiveness, and what sets Sunset apart from other alcohol flushing supplements, is the precise balancing of complimentary compounds to provide 3 important levels of alcohol flushing defense.
The first level of Sunset’s flush fighting arsenal works to aid the body’s natural defenses against the metabolic toxins that cause your alcohol red face.
The second level provides a robust anti-histamine defense to ensure the small amount of toxins that slip through don’t cause the blood vessels in your face to react and turn red.
Finally, and most importantly, the compounds necessary for the first two layers of defense to work need to be protected against being depleted by the alcohol you consume. This requires a third and final layer of defense to counteract alcohol-induced depletion of the body’s flush-fighting compounds and ensure optimal performance of the formula as a whole.
1. Supplements that support the ALDH2 liver enzyme and help with alcohol red face
As we explained in our detailed article about Asian flush, the reason you get a red face after a few drinks is because your body is having a toxic reaction to a metabolic by-product of alcohol called acetaldehyde. This is normally broken down in the liver, but a genetic deficiency in the liver enzyme ALDH2 can cause this toxin to pass through the liver and provoke a variety of symptoms like your embarrassing red face.
With this in mind, our first goal was to find a way to assist this deficient liver enzyme to ensure these toxins don’t make it past your liver.
After countless rounds of trialing and testing we found that the human body had everything it needed to fight off these flush causing toxins, all we had to do was give it a bit of a kick start.
NAC supplementation can help a deficient ALDH2 enzyme and alleviate alcohol induced facial redness.
When it comes to breaking down acetaldehyde, most people just rely on their liver’s ALDH2 enzymes to do all the work. But if you suffer from alcohol flush reaction, your ALDH2 enzymes are lacking and you’re going to need some additional support.
Luckily, the human body naturally produces a substance that supports the ALDH2 enzyme called glutathione, one of the most powerful anti-oxidants known to man. Unfortunately, it turns out that it is very difficult to supplement your body with glutathione directly.
As concluded in a study examining the effectiveness of taking glutathione orally:
“Because of hydrolysis of glutathione by intestinal and hepatic gamma-glutamyltransferase, dietary glutathione is not a major determinant of circulating glutathione, and it is not possible to increase circulating glutathione to a clinically beneficial extent by the oral administration of a single dose of 3 g of glutathione.”
The study basically found that you could not take glutathione supplements and expect you body’s glutathione levels to increase - you have to do it some other way.
Another way to increase your body’s glutathione levels is by helping it to produce it by itself. The body actually produces glutathione naturally and simply requires the right quantities of certain compounds to do so.
One such compound is NAC, which is an amino acid required for the natural synthesis of glutathione directly in our cells - which is where glutathione is most needed and produced by the body itself.
It should also be noted that NAC is usually the limiting factor in the production of glutathione because of its shortages in many people’s diets. It is present in many fruits, vegetables, meats and eggs, but it gets destroyed by cooking and rarely makes it through the digestive tract.
Therefore, NAC supplementation is a great way to increase your body’s natural glutathione levels before consuming alcohol. This will provide much needed support to your ALDH2 enzyme and help reduce the severity of an alcohol red face.
Another great benefit of NAC is that it has been shown to bind directly to acetaldehyde - the main culprit behind alcohol flushing. In another study, scientists demonstrated the ability of NAC supplementation to significantly reduce blood acetaldehyde associated with alcohol.
“ N-acetyl cysteine, an analogue of the dietary amino acid cysteine, binds acetaldehyde, thus preventing its damaging effect… “
This indicates that NAC can support the ALDH2 liver enzyme, first by increasing glutathione synthesis in the body, and second by binding to the acetaldehyde created by alcohol metabolism and reducing the load of flush causing toxins in the liver.
Thiamine also controls the accumulation of toxins that cause a red face from alcohol and aids the function of NAC.
Thiamine is contained in many foods at low concentrations, with yeast and pork containing the highest concentrations. It is also contained in the outer layers of unrefined grains and cereals, but often removed during industrial processing.
Thiamine has been consistently linked by many studies to the proper metabolism of alcohol and its deficiency can cause additional stress on the liver’s ALDH2 enzyme.
Our testing indicated consistent positive results from ensuring that subjects were not deficient in thiamine before consuming alcohol. Hence, supplementation of thiamine is seen as aiding the ALDH2 enzyme by eliminating the stress caused by its deficiency, whilst at the same time accounting for the variability in different people's thiamine levels prior to alcohol consumption.
In addition to accounting for pre-drink deficiencies, recent studies have also suggested that thiamine works in synergy with NAC in preventing acetaldehyde toxicity. Therefore, by turbo charging the function of NAC, thiamine supplementation can provide much needed support to the ALDH2 enzyme and in turn help to reduce the severity of a red face from alcohol.
2. Natural anti-histamines that reduce facial redness better than Pepcid AC and Zantac.
There are many supplements on the market claiming to stop a red face from alcohol, yet and most of these products are comprised of only the first layer of defense discussed above.
In our testing we found this to be insufficient to completely stop an alcohol red face. This is because, depending on how much alcohol you consume, there will always be some toxins that slip through the liver and into your blood stream.
When this happens the body releases histamines that cause your body to react in various ways, i.e. facial and upper body redness, difficulty breathing, headache, nausea, dizziness, etc.
Many people use over the counter pharmaceutical anti-histamines such as Pepcid AC and Zantac to control this reaction but are unaware of the dangerous side effects these medications can cause when taken with alcohol.
Many sources indicate reports of unpleasant side effects from taking Pepcid AC and Zantac such as headaches, dizziness, constipation and diarrhoea. They also note more severe side effects such as heart rhythm problems, jaundice and liver enzyme abnormalities. Furthermore, when taken with alcohol, these pharmaceutical anti-histamines have been shown to cause serious stomach issues.
This is why it is much safer and more effective to use natural antihistamines to clean up the toxins that slip through the first layer of defense.
Quercetin is natures answer to Pepcid
Many studies have demonstrated the potent anti-histamine and anti-oxidant properties of quercetin.
Found in varying quantities in fruits, vegetables, leaves and grains, quercetin can be obtained as a concentrated flavanol for supplementation. Furthermore, unlike pharmaceutical antihistamines like Pepcid AC and Zantac, there is little evidence to suggest any danger in taking quercetin before consuming alcohol.
This makes quercetin our preferred natural anti-histamine for protecting the body against the inevitable release of histamines that happens when toxins slip through the first layer of defense. The more histamine protection you have the less likely it will be that you experience an alcohol red face.
Bromelain is quercetin’s turbo charger
Bromelain is a protein extract taken from the stems of pineapples and commonly used as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Researchers at the Institute for Male Urology, in Los Angeles, conducted a study looking at the therapeutic effect of quercetin for patients with prostatitis. Relevant to us was their finding that bromelain helped increase the absorbtion of quercetin and improved results by over 300%.
By increasing the absorption of quercetin, bromelain acts as a turbo charger for its antihistamine properties and helps ensure a robust second level of defence against a red face from alcohol.
Sunset contains this potent anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory combination of Quercetin and Bromelaine, balanced precisely to work in tight synergy to prevent histamines in your body from causing an alcohol red face reaction.
3. Stopping the alcohol-induced depletion of vital ingredients
The catch 22 is that many of the compounds necessary to stop a red face from alcohol are actually depleted by alcohol itself. This means that most of the alcohol flushing products you buy will be rendered useless as soon as you consume alcohol - sounds a bit silly right?
Silly but true…
Glutathione levels in the body are depleted heavily by the consumption of alcohol. As indicated by one 2008 study:
“Glutathione plays an important role in the detoxification of alcohol and acute alcohol administration leads to glutathione depletion in the liver and other tissues.”
Furthermore, your body’s ability to absorb thiamine, another essential component of proper alcohol metabolism, may also be restricted by alcohol consumption. As outlined in a study:
“Alcohol reduces the rate of intestinal absorption and the net transmural flux of thiamin. Furthermore, alcohol inhibits only the active and not the passive component of thiamin transport by impeding the cellular exit of thiamin across the basolateral or serosal membrane.”
What this means in a nutshell is that your body’s ability to use glutathione and thiamine is significantly restricted when you consume alcohol. This means that there needs to be a third layer of defense that protects flush fighting compounds from being depleted by the alcohol itself.
This is where L-theanine comes in…
Don’t panic, just have a cup of tea.
L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid found only in green tea. Researched extensively in Japan, studies have shown l-theanine to be a powerful antidote for the negative effects of alcohol.
The School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Shizuoka in Japan extensively studied the interaction of l-theanine with alcohol and found it to significantly lower blood levels of alcohol, whilst also accelerating the breakdown of acetaldehyde.
In their research they stated:
On the 1st hour after ethanol administration, the ethanol concentrations in blood of the theanine combined groups decreased compared with the ethanol-alone group. The alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase activities in the liver increased by combined theanine.
In the same study, researchers also noted increased glutathione levels in subjects administered with l-theanine prior to consuming alcohol. This implies that l-theanine also works to help counteract the alcohol-induced loss of glutathione and other vital compounds necessary for the proper metabolism of alcohol.
What this means in a nutshell is that l-theanine makes sure all of the ingredients in the formula have a chance to work properly. It does this by altering the chemistry of the alcohol you consume so that it doesn’t deplete the function of important flush fighting compounds in your body.
Therefore, taking an alcohol flushing supplement without this vital third layer of defense would just burn a hole in your pocket and do very little for your alcohol red face.
Get all three layers of alcohol red face defense in one convenient capsule.
You can get all of the ingredients necessary for the first, second and third layer of defense naturally. All you will need to do is eat 4 or 5 pineapple stems, an exceptionally large bowl of fruits and vegetables, a handful of pure yeast, 3 to 4 beef steaks and a few cups of green tea before you have one drink of alcohol.
That sounds like a lot of work just to have one drink...
A more efficient alternative would be to isolate the necessary compounds in these foods and pack them all into a small capsule that can be taken before you drink alcohol. Not only that, but the quantities of each ingredient can be balanced precisely to ensure an optimal level of synergy between all of the components of the formula.
This is why we created Sunset: The only supplement that uses all three levels of defense to comprehensively stop a red face from alcohol.
The alcohol red face can be very inconvenient, stressful and embarrassing. It’s incredibly easy to ruin your night in a flash.
Flushing red in the face makes it difficult for a person to dance, socialize and simply feel good and enjoy their night, not to mention the health risks that can occur when acetaldehyde accumulates in your body.
Think of it like this, the more someone endures their facial redness from alcohol, the more exposed to serious illnesses that person is.
You can either limit your alcohol intake and avoid red wine and hard alcohol, or use supplements like Sunset to help out those enzymes that are not working properly. Either way, you’ll feel much better and keep your health in check while paying attention to the signs your body is sending you.