People are reporting all sorts of benefits to their body and appearance after a relatively short time of not drinking.

We already know that alcohol does some serious damage to some of the parts of us we can’t see (our brains, our livers, our hearts) and that that damage can be reversed when we stop drinking.

But how much did you realise that alcohol affects the parts of us we can see?

Some of the benefits people are reporting when they stop drinking are:
• Clearer skin (and less “puffy” appearance)
• Brighter eyes
• Better teeth (less staining)
• Shinier, healthier hair
• Weight loss

This isn’t surprising when we consider that alcohol dehydrates us. Most people don’t drink anywhere near enough water to keep themselves properly hydrated. "Your body depends on water intake, but most people don't drink enough," says Stavros A. Kavouras, PhD, a hydration and fluid balance researcher, associate professor, and coordinator of the Exercise Science Program at the University of Arkansas.

So, if you’re drinking alcohol, you’re usually compounding a problem that’s already there. And, dehydration can have very visible and noticeable effects on your skin, hair and teeth. It’s no wonder that when people stop drinking and they’re hydrating themselves more, that they notice beneficial effects to their appearance.

Clearer Skin
Dr Justine Hextall, dermatologist at The Harley Medical Group, says “When skin is dehydrated it lacks elasticity, fine lines and under eye circles often appear more pronounced and skin tends to look flat. Whereas hydrated skin just glows, looking plumper, calmer and reflects light better hence the term glowing skin."

Brighter eyes
Although it can sometimes feel like having a few drinks helps us to get to sleep, alcohol leads to poorer quality sleep and can result in us waking up in the early hours of the morning, unable to drop off again. Even if we do sleep through the night, the quality of that sleep is poor. Our eyes suffer from lack of good quality sleep and can appear puffy, red and small. On top of that, dehydration also dries out the eyes, making them irritated. When we’re sober, sleeping better and hydrating ourselves better, the function and appearance of our eyes improves.

Better teeth
People who drink heavily tend to have higher plaque levels on their teeth and are three times as likely to experience permanent tooth loss. Saliva keeps teeth moist and helps to remove plaque and bacteria from the tooth’s surface – when you’re drinking, your mouth gets dehydrated and dry and the can’t do its job properly. Alcohol also eats away at tooth enamel, leaving teeth more porous and likely to stain from the chromogens (colour) in alcoholic drinks. This is why your teeth become discoloured with sustained heavy drinking. Your teeth are far healthier when you’re not drinking.

Shinier, healthier hair
In the same way that drinking alcohol desiccates your skin, it dehydrates your hair. The problem is that dry hair is weak, brittle and more prone to split ends. Excessive alcohol use can also trigger a zinc deficiency in the body, which has been shown to cause hair loss. Many people who drink heavily don’t eat a balanced, nutritionally-rich diet. When your diet is nutrient-deficient or your body can’t absorb the right nutrients because of alcohol consumption, this can lead to hair loss. Many people report how much shinier and healthier their hair seems a few weeks or months after they’ve stopped drinking.

Weight loss
Of course, when we’re drinking, we’re consuming extra empty calories. And, on top, we’re likely to be eating lots of unhealthy food when we’re drunk and giving into cravings for sugars and carbs when we’re hungover because we just want to feel better and might not be able to stomach anything too healthy. We just don’t have the same control over our dietary decisions when we’re drinking that we do when we’re sober. When we’re sober, we can more easily make healthier choices and this often results in weight loss.

Many people also discover a new zest for keeping fit and doing regular physical activity as this is a great replacement habit. Because you’re not waking up with hangovers anymore, you can stick to the commitments you make, like going to the gym, going to a class, going for a run… whatever it is, you’re more likely to stick to it when you’re waking up fresh and revitalised.

A few people report some temporary weight gain when they first stop drinking. This is usually because they’re rewarding or treating themselves with sugary treats in place of alcohol. This is fine and completely normal. After a while, when people are confidently sober, they tend to start eating more healthily and the weight comes off again. Short-term or long-term, it’s much easier to manage your weight when you’re sober.

What have you noticed changes about your appearance when you stop drinking?

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