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Why Your Face Turns Red When You Drink

The human body is the most incredible machine on Earth. Essentially everything we're able to do is because of our bodies, in some way or another.

But did you know that our body also communicates with us?

Indeed, our bodies have the ability to inform us when an organ is not functioning properly or when something compromises its flawless performance. If you have a hormonal imbalance, for example, one way in which your body might let you know is by “gifting” your face with acne, or if you don’t drink enough water throughout the day, you can get a headache. Or you might start sweating while you eat some really spicy food.

So by turning your face red after you drink alcohol, what does your body want to tell you? Is this a sign that something is wrong? What does red skin mean?

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 condition, known as an alcohol flush reaction (or more commonly known as Asian flush) affects more than 50% of East Asians, but it doesn’t exclude Europeans, Africans or Americans either. With symptoms like intense redness and hot flushes, there is still no known cure for Asian flush reaction.

Because one of the most common, and most noticeable, symptoms is a red face, some may think Asian flush is a skin condition or skin problem. It's even possible for the red flushing to appear on the neck, chest and arms as well. However, Asian flush is far deeper than just at skin-level and results from an issue metabolising alcohol.

While often handed down through families from generation to generation, Asian flush can happen to those with various skin tones, nationalities and ages.

Not Everyone Understands How Flushing Holds You Back. We Do.

Sunset Testimonial - Rachel TRachel 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."


However, there are some products that prevent this extreme blushing, the most effective one being our Sunset pills. Not only do our pills 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 this 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.

Woman before and after drinking with Asian Glow

Reasons for Alcohol Flush Reaction

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. This makes the flush something between a medical condition and an allergy, always resulting in skin reddening which is the most distinguishable symptom of alcohol flushing.

Other alcohol flushing symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Swelling cheeks
  • Red eyes
  • Dizziness

A lot of these symptoms sound like those of a hangover, symptoms you might experience a day after drinking alcohol. However, someone with Asian Flush can begin to feel these hangover-like symptoms 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 metabolize the alcohol. While it’s doing that, the alcohol gets converted into acetaldehyde, a cancerogenic 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 to Asian flush sufferers?

Well, 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 you can imagine, acetaldehyde results in lots of unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms while it builds up in the system.

Unfortunately, it’s actually all the alcohol metabolization’s main two enzymes’ fault. The first enzyme is responsible for turning alcohol into acetaldehyde, whereas the second one turns the acetaldehyde into CO2 and water. With those who have this condition, both of these enzymes don’t function properly; the first one working too fast, while the second one not working at all. So, 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 flushing and all other symptoms associated with alcohol flush reaction.

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.

Man with alcohol flush drinking two pints of Guinness

How to Prevent Alcohol Flush Reaction

Even though there is still no known cure for this reaction, there are a couple of ways you can manage it and even prevent it.

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.

The second way to reduce alcohol flushing is by using antihistamines. These histamine blockers should be taken 20-30 minutes before you start drinking, preventing the occurrence of any flashes. However, there’s one negative side to this technique. You shouldn’t drink too much alcohol while using an antihistamine since these blockers increase the rate of your blood alcohol content, meaning that you’ll get drunk faster than you normally do.

So even though you may experience reduced redness with help from the antihistamines, 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.

The third and most successful way in which you can actually prevent this uncomfortable alcohol flush reaction, is by using special pills 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.

But what’s actually inside Sunset? We use only the very best ingredients to help combat alcohol flushing:

Quercetin is a strong antihistamine and anti-inflammatory that neutralizes facial and upper body flush zones while it also boosts natural defences by elevating the function of enzymes needed for Glutathione synthesis in the body. Glutathione is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants the body can handle and with Quercetin in your system, your body can produce more of it to fight alcohol flushing successfully.

Bromelain is a protein digesting enzyme that significantly increases the body's uptake of Quercetin. This powerful combination reduces facial redness more efficiently than antihistamines such as Pepcid AC or Zantac and also helps your body's natural enzymatic processes break down the flush provoking toxins found in alcohol.

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that breaks down into Glutathione, one of the most powerful anti-oxidants the human body can handle. Glutathione helps your body's deficient enzymes break down the toxic alcohol metabolites that causes your face to flush red while also making alcohol consumption more comfortable by preventing associated symptoms such as headaches and nausea.

L-Theanine is a non-protein amino acid found only in green tea and has been shown to accelerate the breakdown of alcohol metabolites. Working in harmony with NAC, L-Theanine also counteracts alcohol-induced glutathione depletion and allows your body to produce enough natural anti-oxidants to keep you flush-free all night.

Thiamine has been consistently shown to control the accumulation of flush-provoking toxins in the body. Great, right? However, it quickly depletes when you drink alcohol and doesn't get a chance to work to its full potential. This is why increasing your body's Thiamine levels prior to having alcohol is not only vital for avoiding alcohol flush reaction but also for the proper functioning of NAC to compensate for the enzyme deficiency causing your reaction.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential cofactor in the enzymatic reactions that prevent alcohol flushing. It is vital for the proper breakdown of NAC into Glutathione and also improves the effectiveness of Thiamine in controlling the accumulation of the toxic alcohol metabolites that cause flushing. Creating the right balance of Vitamin C is crucial for Sunset’s other ingredients to work.

B Vitamins
Sunset contains important B vitamins such as Riboflavin, Niacin, Pridoxine, Cobalamin and Biotin - all essential for the proper metabolism of alcohol and efficient breakdown of NAC into glutathione. Increasing these B vitamin levels prior to drinking alcohol helps stop the build up of flush-provoking toxins and ensures the other ingredients in Sunset are working at their peak levels.

Piperine is a potent alkaloid found in black pepper that stops your body from excreting the compounds in Sunset before they have time to prevent an alcohol red face reaction from happening. By keeping the bio-chemical balance of Sunset intact for longer, the addition of Piperine increases the efficiency of the formula and ensures a more sustained flush-free drinking experience with fewer pills.

Comparison between flushed and non-flushing face

In Conclusion

The alcohol flush reaction can be very inconvenient, stressful and embarrassing. It’s incredibly easy to ruin your night in a flash.

Alcohol flushing makes it difficult for a person to dance, socialize and simply feel good and enjoy the 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 this so-called Asian glow, the more exposed to serious illnesses that person is, cancer being on top of the list since acetaldehyde is, in fact, carcinogenic.

So, you can either limit your alcohol intake and avoid red wine and hard alcohol, or use pills like Sunset to help out those enzymes that don’t seem to work 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.