Tthere are few things more satisfying in the warm summer months than grabbing a fruity and refreshing cocktail on a terrace, by the pool or at a faraway holiday destination. What’s not so satisfying? Putting your glowy summer skin at risk for the sake of that buzz.
Just one look in the mirror the day after a booze-filled outing will tell you that alcohol is no friend to your skin. And according to pros, you can blame the drying effects of alcohol on your dull, dry morning-after complexion. “Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it can cause dehydration by increasing urine output,” says Sam Schleiger, a functional dietitian and owner of Simply Nourished Functional Nutrition. “This can lead to dry, flaky skin and a dull complexion.” Schleiger also points out that alcohol can cause inflammation, collagen breakdown, and impaired vitamin absorption — all of which are health effects that can leave your skin looking less than ideal.
If you still crave the summer-inspired flavors in a margarita or mojito but don’t want to sacrifice the health of your skin, there are plenty of equally delicious mocktails that don’t contain alcohol that will dull the complexion. Wellness influencer and storyteller Olivia Noceda began her down-to-earth curious journey in early 2022 and has since been busy creating and posting artisanal mocktails on her Instagram account that look even more enticing than their spiked counterparts. And as a bonus, most of Noceda’s colorful concoctions contain healthy, skin-nourishing ingredients.
When Noceda is trying to make a particularly skin-friendly mocktail, she’ll often turn to a collagen supplement (she uses Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides), but she also recently added a surprising new ingredient. “Something that’s really new to me that I’ve found to be a great ingredient that’s also super beneficial for the skin is catnip tea,” says Noceda. “Catnip is in the mint family and it’s really anti-inflammatory and also acts as a natural antiseptic, which is great for the skin.” In addition to collagen and catnip, Noceda also sings the praises of ingredients like hibiscus, liquid fish oil, and butterfly pea flower tea that can be effortlessly added to mocktails and work to transform skin from the inside out.
But before you start throwing back the mocktails, Noceda is quick to warn imbibers that not all mocktail ingredients are completely harmless. In general, she recommends avoiding recipes high in added sugars, as sugar breaks down collagen and elastin in the skin. And for those with acne and/or sensitive skin, she suggests avoiding chlorophyll or seaweed, as both ingredients can potentially cause breakouts and irritation.
Now that you’ve seen all that’s possible with one simple mocktail, you might feel inspired to mix one (or two) yourself – to recreate a delicious mocktail recipe (or two), and we’ve got you covered. Ahead, we’ve rounded up the tastiest summer-inspired mocktail recipes that pack a punch with flavorful and skin-loving ingredients. Cheers!
1. Kumquat and thyme sour
This kumquat-and-thyme cocktail from Noceda is the alcohol-free version of a spicy summer drink. Thyme is just one of many herbs responsible for promoting circulation and increasing blood flow to the skin. (Plus, it tastes so good in a fruity cocktail). The thyme is combined with kumquat, a tart and tangy citrus fruit filled with powerful antioxidants and vitamin C.
1/4 cup kumquats, sliced and tangled
A few sprigs of thyme
1 ounce honey syrup (honey + hot water)
1 ounce lemon juice
2 ounces AFTER whisky, cold black tea or water
2 ounces orange or kumquat juice
1 egg white (substitute aquafaba for a vegan option)
1. Rim a chilled glass with sprigs of thyme mixed with salt and/or sugar.
2. Add kumquats, thyme and honey to a mixing glass. Blur by hand.
3. Add ice, lemon juice, NA whiskey (or cold black tea or water), and orange or kumquat juice to mixing glass. Shake vigorously.
4. Add egg white (or aquafaba) to a separate glass. Use a hand mixer to whip foamy.
5. Pour the drink over ice in the rimmed glass. Cover with foam.
2. Strawberry Basil Lemonade
“This mocktail is packed with skin-loving ingredients like strawberries and basil, which are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds,” says Bash Hovian, a mixologist and owner of bartending service BASH the bartender. “The lemon juice adds a refreshing burst of vitamin C, while the honey provides a natural sweetener without the inflammatory effects of refined sugar.”
1 cup of fresh strawberries
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp honey (optional)
Sparkling water or club soda
1. Combine strawberries, basil, lemon juice and honey (if using) in a blender. Mix to a smooth substance.
2. Pour the mixture into a glass and top up with sparkling water or soda water.
3. Stir well.
3. Watermelon Cooler
Meet your summer glow’s new best friend: the watermelon cooler. Developed by Schleiger, this recipe features a number of skin-friendly ingredients, including watermelon, mint, coconut water, and lime juice, to make a truly delicious summer mocktail. Watermelon is packed with vitamin C (which Schleiger says is important for collagen synthesis), while the coconut water is hydrating and the mint is anti-inflammatory. As an added bonus, the splash of fresh lime juice provides an extra boost of brightening vitamin C.
1 cup fresh watermelon pieces
1/2 cup coconut water
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar (optional)
Mint sprigs and watermelon wedges, for garnish
1. Combine the watermelon chunks, coconut water, fresh mint leaves, lime juice, and honey or agave nectar (if using) in a blender. Mix until smooth and foamy.
2. Add ice cubes and blend again until mixture is slushy and ice cold.
3. Pour the mixture into glasses and garnish with mint sprigs and watermelon wedges.
4. Honey orange paloma
If you’re looking for a worthy mocktail replacement for the summer favorite paloma cocktail, you’ve probably found it here. Created by the team behind Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice, the Honey Orange Paloma Mocktail introduces orange juice, egg whites and honey into this traditionally tart cocktail made with grapefruit juice. The sweet, citrusy flavors pair perfectly with patio sipping, and they’re also incredibly healthy for the skin — even down to the mocktail garnish. In addition to vitamin C, oranges are packed with folate, which can help prevent cell damage. Egg whites also contain beneficial proteins that can provide a temporary anti-aging boost to the skin as it minimizes and tightens fine lines and wrinkles. The most surprising skin-loving ingredient in this mocktail is the garnish. According to Brayden James of Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice, the bee pollen granules used as a garnish on this mocktail have strong anti-aging properties due to the high levels of nucleic acids in the pollen.
4 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice (James uses Natalie’s Orange Juice)
2 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (James uses Natalie’s Grapefruit Juice)
2 egg whites
2 tbsp honey
Bee pollen granules for garnish
1. Combine ice, grapefruit juice, orange juice, egg whites and honey in a shaker.
2. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
3. Strain into two glasses and garnish with bee pollen granules.
5. Blackberry thyme mimosa
This mimosa mocktail is a great option for a hangover-free brunch. In addition to being visually appealing, the recipe contains antioxidant-rich blackberries and thyme that can brighten even the dullest skin, according to nutritionist Amy Fox. Your afternoon glow never looked so good.
1 tbsp grenadine syrup
12 ounces sparkling water or ginger ale
Blackberries and thyme for garnish
1. Fill a champagne glass with cold sparkling water or ginger ale and slowly pour grenadine over it. Do not mix. Grenadine is slowly sinking to the bottom.
2. Top with blackberries and thyme for garnish.