How Living Sober Will Make You Beautiful Again

By Hayleigh Hatcher 05/15/16

All of the make-up in the world wasn’t capable of covering up my low self-esteem and lies.

The Beauty Benefits of Sobriety

As a beauty industry veteran, looking good is important to me. And as an active alcoholic, keeping up my appearance was a major part of the charade. I thought I did a fabulous job covering my hangovers and drug-induced sleepless nights with expensive black dresses and Chanel lip gloss. I adopted this philosophy: the worse the night, the more polished the appearance the next day. I would wake up and say to myself, ”Get up, suck it up, put on your lipstick, and rock ‘n’ roll...last night is in the past, last night never happened.”

Alcohol and drugs have horrendous results on one's appearance, but sober living almost instantly reverses some of the effects.

This worked well for me, for a while. Masking my addictive behaviors in perfectly blown-out hair and savvy make-up applications helped me to feel more like a part of society. It was the pretty little bow that tied my denial together. Hairdressing in some of New York City’s most elite salons, the competition was stiff. Everyone wants to be a star—not just on the salon floor, but also at the bar. This industry is riddled with substance abuse. However, as long as you make it to work managing to look good, the drinking and drugging is not only overlooked, its glorified.

At some point, in the drinking career of a real alcoholic, you can no longer hide from reality. Alcohol and drugs have horrendous results on one’s appearance, but sober living almost instantly reverses some of the effects. When I reached 50 days sober, a gentlemen in my home group approached me and said, “For vanity alone, you should never drink again.” I can’t forget that because it really showed me how obvious my negative choices were to others; it was also another incentive to stay clean. Sober living is a miraculous way to stay beautiful. A life sans alcohol and drugs is beneficial in nice skin, clear eyes, healthy physique, as well as anti-aging. Living without the consequences of substance abuse also boosts self-esteem, giving the priceless inner beauty that’s essential to outer beauty.

Our skin is the largest organ in our body. It’s also the fastest-growing. It coats and protects us and all of the organs inside of us, so skincare is quite important. We have all seen the "faces of meth," but just because we suffer from addiction doesn’t mean we’ve experienced that particular horror. So how exactly does substance abuse affect your skin? Alcohol dehydrates the body in general, and excessive drinking deprives the skin of vital vitamins such as vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant which is essential to skin health because it normalizes and repairs all skin functions. The dehydration caused by drinking leaves your skin less plump and fresh-looking, and also brings on bloating and swelling. Spirits high in sugar leave the skin looking sallow. In my experience, sugar is a number one offender in poor skin. Sugar deprives my skin of its natural glow and causes breakouts. I have a reasonable daily regime that allows me to put my best face forward. Appropriate cleansers, moisturizers, and topical creams, along with regular visits to the dermatologist, keep me fresh faced. When I was using alcohol and drugs regularly, I could barely take care of myself, let alone my skin. Today, my glowing skin is an asset.

Living sober is a sure-fire way to keep a youthful appearance and counteract the aging process. The late nights and lack of sleep endured during active addiction leave you looking haggard. It’s easily noticed when someone looks tired, and over time, we can even start to look sick. Sleep is one of the most essential components of living. During sleep, the body renews, recharges, and heals. Sleepless nights are detrimental to the aging process. Another way alcohol can age us is by causing wrinkles. This includes premature wrinkles caused by loss of collagen and elasticity. The loss of vitamin A deters cell renewal, also contributing to the aging process. This can affect your hair too. The same way drinking desiccates your skin, it dehydrates your hair. Dry hair is brittle and more prone to breakage. Excessive use also causes a zinc deficiency, which can result in hair loss. You can often tell right away when someone abuses substances—they appear older than they are. 

Have you ever noticed how unsightly bloodshot or cloudy eyes can be? This was a regular occurrence for me in my using days, and it looks atrocious. The reason substance abusers' eyes often appear irritated is due to the enlargement of blood vessels on the eyes' surface, the sclera. Cruising around with eye irritations literally gives you crazy eyes! People say you can tell a lot about someone by their eyes, and it’s absolutely true. It may seem small, but bright and shiny eyes are a large contribution to a beautiful face and trusting persona. When you live clean and sober, it’s easy to forgot the small horrors of the drunk days, but crystal clear eyes on a regular basis is a miracle.

One of the most critical components in my will to stay sober is the terror of alcoholic weight gain! When I put down the bottle, I dropped ten pounds almost instantly. The empty calories in alcohol are astonishing. A pint of lager is like eating a slice of pizza, while a frozen margarita is like eating a cheeseburger. Sure, go ahead and have a glass of red wine, which is equal to having a slice of cake. For the normal or moderate drinker, this may not be an issue, but the way I abused alcohol, it was a problem. Long nights of endless beer consumption added thousands of calories to my diet, and the hangovers often led to extreme laziness and more consumption. Alcohol is ingested then metabolized, fat oxidation stops, the metabolism is slowed, and weight is gained. Besides that, drinking increases the appetite and decreases the mindfulness leading to poor food choices. As a young woman trying to succeed in life and love, there is a certain pressure to maintaining a healthy body weight. Living sober allows one to make wise decisions that benefit the body. It’s much more simple and serene.

Taking care of myself on a daily basis is a major key to success, and it starts with my sobriety. All of the make-up in the world wasn’t capable of covering up my low self-esteem and lies. When we put down the drink, a weight is lifted and our inner beauty instantly grows. When we are no longer poisoning our bodies and minds, we become free to take care of ourselves. Detoxifying from alcohol and drugs is the best kept beauty tip of them all. Rested and well-hydrated bodies keep our skin youthful, fresh, and glowing. Bright eyes and shiny hair are a part of this, too.

With an energized body and mind, we are given the opportunity to treat ourselves well through diet and exercise. We are available to see doctors, hairdressers and take yoga classes—and we will most likely have the funds to do so! The beauty benefits of sober living are endless and pretty instant—and isn’t that the meaning in life, to find beauty in ourselves, the world, and others?

Hayleigh Hatcher is a NYC based hairstylist and lifestyle expert, for more information please visit her website.

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