Now for the second article in my Sober Challenge series. Do check out the previous post on why you should be sober curious if you missed it:
This post is about the unexpected impact alcohol has on our physical appearance. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful. Affirmations and acceptance are great, and they certainly make an impact, but it doesn’t change what you see in the mirror. Maybe 2023 is the year you’ve decided you want to look your best, perhaps even to reinvent yourself. But you don’t know where to start. Beauty treatments, new makeup, clothes? All expensive and time consuming. What if I told you there was a way to be better looking straight away and you’d actually be saving money? I was shocked to find out just how much drinking alcohol can impact your physical appearance.
I am currently doing a 100 days sober challenge, and I’ll link all the articles in the series at the end of the post for you if you’re curious about all the benefits and the journey. I don’t intend to cut out alcohol permanently, but I do plan to moderate as this challenge is steadily showing me all the benefits of living without it. Past the half way point, one clear benefit has been in the mirror.
The inspiration for this article came when learning of the incredible physical changes that Catherine Gray went through on her sober journey. For anyone trying to cut alcohol out completely or simply sober curious and wanting to cut down, this book is truly brilliant:
So, let’s get into it. How might alcohol be affecting the way you look?
You may find upon cutting out booze your eyes appear bigger and whiter. Alcohol causes the blood vessels in your eyes to dilate, thus the familiar bloodshot eyes after a night of drinking. Not a good look.
Those blood vessels can also become leaky making the skin around your eyes puffy and therefore make your eyes appear smaller.
Goes without saying that the disrupted sleep alcohol causes would also affect the appearance of your peepers.
Your Scarlet Cheeks and Chest
Alcohol flush is something many of us suffer from. Alcohol causes blood vessels to swell, giving an uneven, flushed appearance to the skin on our face and chest.
For some there can be an allergic reaction. A sure sign of alcohol intolerance is having redness and blotchiness of the skin, even a rash. Suffice to say we all look better and healthier without it.
Acne and Complexion
So most of us know that our liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol which is toxic to us. It also happens to be the one most important for maintaining our skin.
New York nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez:
“I always joke with my patients, “If you want to get older, go ahead and drink!”
When the liver has too many toxins to handle, they’re often pushed out through the skin. This is why heavy drinking shows there. Beer and cocktails additionally tend to have a lot of candida (a fungus that leads to outbreaks).
Other ways alcohol causes spots and outbreaks include:
- Pore shrinkage leading to pore blockage.
- Bacteria having a party on your skin, because your immune system is weakened and has bigger things to worry about than your glowing complexion.
I was surprised to find that drinking can cause hair loss. Why? Because it depletes the amount of zinc and iron in your body, two minerals crucial for hair health and also affects your ability to absorb protein. (What hair is made of).
The dehydrating effect of alcohol not only causes your skin to lose moisture, but also leaves your hair dry and brittle. Result? Bad looking hair that is more likely to snap.
Hair and nails are more or less made of the same thing (Keratin). So it makes sense that your nail health and growth is also affected. Those brittle nails are also more liable to break, just like the hair.
Now this was the most surprising side effect of drinking to me. That it can actually affect your ability to tan. Apparently, Vitamin B is key to tanning and surprise surprise, Vitamin B is yet another thing alcohol leeches away from our bodies.
Now regardless of the aesthetics of a tan, tanning is our body’s protective response to the sun. Drinking does in fact increase your risk of burning with the amount of UV light required to burn being less. Skin cancer isn’t a good look on anyone.
Face and Body
In terms of having a killer body and a streamlined face, I think there’s two obvious ways in which alcohol impedes that.
Weight Gain and More Difficult Weight Loss
The amount of empty calories you consume with alcohol is catastrophic and often unnoticed. Pint and a half of beer? You might as well have had a sandwich. A large glass of wine? You might as well have had those two packets of crisps.
Then you have the fact that we often line our stomachs for drinking, eat food in accompaniment to drinking and are triggered to binge and eat to combat the after effects of drinking.
It all adds up.
Not only that, but if the exercise you do burns off the calories from the alcohol in your system, naturally your fat stores are going to remain untouched.
Work Out Recovery and Building Muscle
Alcohol actually reduces muscle protein synthesis, so forget any gains in the gym. It decreases your body’s metabolism so as mentioned above, delays your ability to burn fat. It also slows down the repair of exercise induced muscle damage. Working out and making progress can be hard enough without making it 10 times harder on yourself for the sake of a bevvy.
This one goes without saying. As we saw in my previous post on reasons to be sober curious , alcohol majorly disrupts your sleep. It’s impossible to look your best without your beauty sleep. A lot of the lovely repair work your body does is while you sleep.
I can personally say that right now leading up to 60 days into my 100-day sober challenge at the time of writing, there have been massive changes to my physical appearance. In combination with diet and exercise shifts, I now have cheekbones that could cut glass and am at my ideal weight. My skin is clearer, my hair is thicker. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more physically attractive. If all the other reasons don’t sway you to take a break from booze, perhaps the above will!
I hope you found this article helpful, any hearts appreciated if you did. I would love to hear your thoughts and what other topics you’d like to see me research or write about, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.
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