You may have heard the term “beer goggles,” the phenomenon where a person’s consumption of alcohol makes physically unattractive bystanders suddenly appear beautiful. Unfortunately, it says little about the person doing the drinking. We’ll say it fast to be kind, but alcohol has the opposite effect on the drinker. It is gorging-on-junk-food fattening. It can make your skin sallow, cold and pasty. It causes bloodshot eyes and smelly breath. And if you drink enough to visit alcohol treatment centers, it can cause bad body odor and skin spotting as well. Here’s a breakdown of what you’re doing to your body’s appearance each time you put another one back.
Alcohol and Your Skin
Contrary to common sense, drinking alcohol actually dehydrates your body. It impacts any mucous membrane, from the liver to the pancreas. That includes your skin, the body’s largest organ. It takes all of the fluid out of the skin, leading people to look much older than a peer of the same age who doesn’t drink. Dehydration also results in more wrinkles by drying out the skin. This happens every single time you take a drink. In the short term, it leads to skin appearing less plump and refreshed the morning after an alcohol-infused celebration. Doing so too often deprives your skin of important nutrients and vitamins.
Alcohol also inflames the tissue. Continuous inflammation creates a histamine reaction. Initially, it may even seem flattering to have rosy cheeks, but after six months or a year, that slight flush becomes far more prominent and leaves you with a facial redness that you can’t escape.
As anyone who has been in alcohol rehab centers can attest to, frequent drinking alters blood flow to the skin, resulting in large pores, skin discoloration, sagging, dullness, fine lines and a lack of resilience. It also messes with your pH levels, making your skin appear drier, uneven, and more prone to acne breakouts.
Alcohol and Your Sleep
Sleep is food for your body and skin; not getting enough of it deprives your body of nourishment. Alcohol may initially cause drowsiness, but within hours of the first drink, it initiates the release of norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a hormone that causes alertness, making sleep a distant memory. Yet as you sleep, your body works to shed dead brain and blood cells, making room for new synapses to take place so that new cells can replace the old ones. In other words, a lack of sleep means you hang on to the dead cells that are no longer useful or attractive. When you have enough sleep, your brain eliminates 60 percent more toxins, thereby giving your skin an alluring glow.
Alcohol and Your Weight
You undoubtedly already know that alcohol increases calories and slows down metabolism, but the impact it has on your weight is sobering. Since your body can’t store alcohol, it metabolizes the liquid immediately. Instead of metabolizing other fats and sugars, your body focuses on taking care of the alcohol consumed. As already mentioned, it also leads to dehydration. When your body is depleted of water, your kidneys kick into overdrive. When that happens, your body essentially goes into panic mode and stores every ounce of water ingested, which causes your tissues to swell and the dreaded facial bloat to occur.
Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, which is nearly the same as pure fat. As a point of reference, here is the breakdown of what you are consuming when you drink:
- A pina colada is similar in calories to a doughnut
- A pint of lager is much like eating a slice of pizza
- A frozen margarita is equivalent to eating a cheeseburger
- A spirit and coke equals a blueberry muffin
- A 50 ml shot of liqueur is equal to two sausages
Alcohol and Your Eyes
Just as alcohol induces broken capillaries in your skin, it enlarges the small blood vessels on the surface of your eyes. The result is bloodshot eyes. While an afternoon of red eyes seems harmless enough, blindness is another ballgame altogether. And if alcohol is a regular part of your diet, blindness may just be in your future. Alcohol prevents your eyes from getting the nutrients required to maintain proper health. This can lead to a condition called alcoholic optic neuritis, which hinders eyesight and can lead to blindness in the long run.
Alcohol and Your Nails
Healthy nails rely on an abundance of water and sufficient nutrition, two things that are depleted with alcohol consumption. Unattractive nails also point to liver damage and an iron deficiency, two concerns that are prevalent in people addicted to alcohol.
So what happens if you imbibe anyway? If you’re concerned about appearances, are there drinks to avoid?
Dark Shots (Tequila, Rum, Whiskey)
On the positive side, dark alcohol doesn’t have additives. On the flip side, it contains congeners which not only worsen your hangover but may lead to skin aging.
Clear Shots (Vodka, Tequila, Gin)
Like with dark alcohol, there aren’t any additives in clear shots. It also doesn’t have any added sugar, salt, or other harmful ingredients, making this the best option based on appearances.
Mojitos, Daiquiris, and Other Sweet Drinks
Loaded with sugar, these spike your insulin and lead to inflammation.
Though it contains a high sodium content, it likely won’t do much damage unless consumed in excess.
If alcohol is starting to impact your appearance, it may be time to contact an alcohol treatment center. Imbibing in more than two drinks on a regular basis is cause for concern.