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The Amazing Beauty Benefits of Forgoing Alcohol For 1 Month

Plus, tips on how to do a Dry January 

By Hilary Sheinbaum

In December 2016, I made a silly bet. I challenged my best guy friend to a Dry January — no wine, beer, spirits or cocktails for 31 days straight.

As a 20-somethings living in New York City, this sounded insane to many of our friends who we’d often hang out with over a drink (they had a lot of questions). But in the end, *spoiler alert*, I succeeded in my set goal (my friend lost — oops!), and I won much more than I had bargained for, including some surprising takeaways, like a glowly, clear, complexion. (And a book called The Dry Challenge, but I digress.)

If I’m being honest, I didn’t know what to expect from giving up alcohol for a few weeks (maybe some financial savings and zero hangovers?) — but my beauty regimen was the last thing on my mind. 

Within the first 10 days of abstaining from alcohol — mind you, in the dead of winter (ahem, no tan) — my skin wasn’t parched, dry or flaky as it had been during past Januarys. Instead, it was hydrated, healthy, and smooth (see ya later adult acne and blemishes)! No offense to the contents of my makeup bag (love you, mean it), but I was wearing less and less makeup as the month went on, gaining confidence that doing a Dry January was beneficial in more than one way.

It’s also important to note that my beauty sleep was greatly improving as well. I went from anxiously dozing through a rough 4 to 5 hours a night pre-Dry Challenge (yikes!), to sleeping 7 to 8 hours straight, without interruption, during my N.A. month. (Note: alcohol can cause you to fall asleep quickly but it also contributes to awakenings, therefore interrupting precious slumber.)

I, for one, appreciate both of these changes, but if looking your best and getting a good night’s rest isn’t convincing enough: there are a ton of other reasons to do a Dry January, other than skin and sleep! Beyond financial savings and zero hangovers (as mentioned), a big part of staying sober is having more time to do the things you love. Instead of spending hours at a bar (and the time it takes transporting back and forth safely) or losing hours on your couch with a wine bottle (and really feeling it the next day), you can instead focus your time and concentration elsewhere — maybe picking up a new (or old) hobby or tackling that never-ending to-do list that you keep putting off.  There’s so much to gain when you lose the booze.

Although a dry month might sound easier said (or written) than done, here are a few hot tips that I learned along the way. I’m coming up on my 5th Dry January (+ a number of sober months in between) and these tried-and-true suggestions have helped me and some of my friends who have succeeded too.

    1. Recruit a friend to do a dry month with you. Although my friend didn’t make it all the way through our Dry Month bet, he was consistently sober until half-way through. And, it’s important to note that during that time we both cheered each other on, vented about any unease and kept each other accountable. (We did have a bet after all.)
    2. Hide your booze. I went into my first Dry January without any preparation, soooo… on the first of the month, there was still alcohol in my apartment. That said, it’s far easier to put away your wine bottles and beer cans so you aren’t constantly reminded about imbibing. 
    3. Make a plan. If you typically meet the girls or guys for a drink after work, suggest other activities you can do that occupy that same time frame and aren’t alcohol-centric. Some favorites that come to mind include workout classes, puzzles and bowling. You can still be social, without a drink. But, if you do want to sip something… 
    4. Drink something non-alcoholic. Replace your booze with a N.A. version. Love wine? Here’s something to celebrate: Starla has three varieties: red, sparkling rosé and white. (And they’re all delicious.)

… With that, raise your glass. Cheers to your Dry January!

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Hilary is the author of The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month and a regular contributor to national, regional and online publications, including The New York Times, USA TODAY, Marie Claire, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, amNew York,, and