Her Story: My Experiences With The Asian Glow/Flush

In response to another Her Campus Pitt article about the Asian glow /flush, I wanted to share my personal experience, knowledge, and friend’s stories as an Asian American with Asian glow.

When I took my sips of beer college freshman year, I learned I had Asian glow. 10 minutes later, my cheeks started to feel warm and someone in the room pointed out that my face was turning pink. Half a can of beer later, my face was now red and I felt my heart rate increase. In general, it only takes 3-5 sips of beer for me to get pink, but 1 drink or 1.5oz shot of vodka or heavy alcohol to get me red. This redness first appears on my face and neck, then upper body such as my chest and shoulders. If I continue to drink more, I will get blotchy on my stomach, arms, and sometimes legs.

Besides the physical appearance, my body heat increases so much I feel like a radiator. This can be a problem when I wear too many layers at a party because I will overheat very easily. Whenever I drink, I keep a glass of water at hand and open or stand near a window during gatherings to cool my body down. Additionally, my pulse quickens and I can feel the blood rushing to my head which is ironic since alcohol is a depressant and is supposed to slow down the body’s systems.

 

To summarize, here are some good and bad points about my experience with Asian glow:

 

Positives:

• My face and body gets warmer, so I don’t need to worry about the cold air while walking outside in the winter

• No need to put on blush, my face will automatically blush or “flush”

• Tip: Concealer and foundation before drinking helps cover up the severity of the redness, but sometimes it might make your skin even more blotchy if the coverup isn’t evenly applied

• Tip: You can hide the redness in your photos but editing photos, using filters, or even making your photos black and white

• People don’t pressure me to drink as much! This is super helpful when I’m at a party or playing drinking games

 

Negatives • In the summer, I become dehydrated very quickly and overheat, so I need to chug more water than usual, this also makes me sober up faster sadly

• People think I’m crazy wasted after 1 drink…. I’m just red. This doesn’t mean I’m drunk

• I’m red all over!? Even my eyes look pink?? It’s unsettling to see myself have such a reaction to alcohol, it’s unhealthy for my body

• People comment and make fun of my redness

Unlike my friends, I am lucky to not have a strong negative reaction such as itchiness, terrible headaches, and severe nausea. I gathered some comments from Asian friends on their personal experience and what they think about others with Asian glow:

 

•  “It looks painful being red! It looks like it hurts!” (it doesn’t, we’re not in bruise worthy pain)

•  “Alcohol is a depressant so it’s supposed to slow down your heart rate. But Asian glow reverses that so instead my heart rate is through the roof -which complicates things even more because I also have a heart condition which causes my heart to beat at like 110+ bpm! Also, once my glow goes away my body gets really cold from the weird sudden shift.”

•  “I don’t have the enzymes needed to break down alcohol, so drinking just makes me feel nauseous and uneasy most of the time :( Pepcid AC did work for photo events if I took it 30-45 min before, but would also halve my alcohol tolerance. Also just learned it gives me stomach cancer??”

•  “At my school, during the last day of classes we have a sponsored day filled with partying, concerts, and events so people will day drink, even during class. So I went to lecture after drinking and ended up having to convince my professor I had skin condition /rash since he approached me after class. I lied to avoid the accusation that I was drinking in class despite the very fact I was, I didn’t want him to think less of me.”

 

Despite these things, my redness does not inhibit my ability to have a good time. If people do comment about my Asian glow, I always either brush it off or embrace it sometimes. Sounds ironic, but I’ll talk about how red I am to break the ice of the group if I’m with new people sometimes. If I’m with other Asians that also have Asian glow, I commonly joke about how we can be “red buddies” together. It’s better to stand in solidarity than be embarrassed alone.  

I have not tried any Asian glow remedies and find it unnecessary to spend time and money to look up these things. I personally am not that insecure about my Asian glow because it is inevitable, and other Asians get this as well so it’s a common reaction. I believe that I have a more nonchalant mindset because I have understanding, non-judgmental friends, so I am lucky to not have had such rude or embarrassing interactions. I don’t worry about my appearance enough that I want to skip drinking just to look nice, I go out to have fun! Plus, people are probably too drunk to care if I’m red or perhaps the revenue is too dark to even notice.

 

It is important to remember that drinking too much is dangerous especially if you have the Asian glow. In fact, it is unhealthy because your body is literally having an allergic reaction to alcohol. Taking antihistamines such as Pepcid and Zantac, to prevent Asian glow can lead to increase consumption of alcohol thus higher risk of stomach or esophageal cancer. There was also a recent study which suggested that those with Asian glow were more susceptible to DNA damage after consuming just 1 drink. Great, another thing to worry about…but good to keep in mind when thinking about my health.

 

In conclusion, I hope as an Asian American I have provided more insight on the stereotypes and personal reactions to Asian glow. Support your fellow “red buddies” or Asian friends by checking up on their health and sticking up for them if someone makes fun of their glow.  

 

Links: 1, 2, 3,

Photos: 1, 2, 3