The Frightening Effects Of Sugar On Your Skin
Halloween’s always a great excuse to scoff candy, but processed sugar can have dire effects on your skin…
Stuffing mealtimes with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and good fats goes a long way to maintaining glowing, healthy skin. But treating your body like a temple is easier said than done when all the naughty stuff tastes so darn good.
Well, do you know what? A little of the bad stuff is not going to do that much damage in the long run. It’s all about everything in moderation, right? Ha, moderation! That’s all well and good throughout most of the year, but there are certain times when temptation is just too hard to resist. And Halloween is one of them.
From candy corn and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to ghoulishly decorated cupcakes and super sweet cocktails, there is literally no getting away from sugar at this time of year. Even when October 31 has passed, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, then the holidays and, well, you might as well right off the entire rest of the year because your willpower stands zero chance against all of that sweet stuff.
But here’s the thing, while a little sugar is fine, overloading your body with tons of processed sugar is hell on your skin and can lead to inflammation, premature aging, even pimples and blackheads. Not down with that? Then here’s everything you need to know about the disastrous effects excess sugar has on your poor complexion. And hopefully a little intel will make you think twice about living by the ‘one for them, one for me’ rule next time those trick or treaters come knocking on your door…
Why Sugar Is Bad News For Your Skin
Studies show that overloading your body with sugar accelerates the accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) through a process called glycation. Glycation is a reaction that occurs when excessive amounts of sugar become too much for your natural insulin levels to handle. It then attacks your skin cells, latching onto fats and important proteins like collagen and elastin, breaking them down and causing them to stiffen, weaken and performing poorly. The result? Harmful compounds called AGEs that kill your radiant, youthful complexion by causing dryness, exacerbating fine lines, deepening wrinkles and making your skin look kind of ‘meh.’
But that’s not all. Sugar is also an inflammatory, so not only does it play a huge part in the speed in which your skin ages, but it can also be a major trigger for acne, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis flare-ups. Especially if you like to overindulge on the reg.
How To Cut Down On Your Sugar Intake
Did you know, the average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of sugar every day – and who knows how much that spikes over Halloween and the holiday season? So, try to remember, Halloween candy should ideally be for the kids, not you! You probably wouldn’t give the likes of Skittles, M&Ms and Hershey’s Kisses a second look throughout the rest of the year, so just because they’re in the house now, this doesn’t mean you should scoff the lot.
A great tip is not to buy your trick or treat stash until the last minute – preferably the day of Halloween – then temptation won’t get in the way. And if you have leftovers you don’t know what to do with? Give them to a neighbor or take them to work so they’re well out of temptation’s reach.
When it comes to your regular, day-to-day eating habits, avoid adding extra sugar to your food and drinks, and limit packaged, processed foods that contain hidden sugars like corn syrup, fructose, molasses and invert sugar. Make small changes like replacing cookies and ice cream with fresh fruit and unsweetened yogurt, and swap sugary cereals for unsweetened oatmeal or granola. Simple tweaks like these won’t be too painful to stick to, but can make the world of difference to the look and feel of your skin.
5 Ways To Counteract The Negative Effects Of Sugar On Your Skin
Great skincare is also essential if you want to stop sugar from doing a real number on your complexion. Here are our top five ways to beat ‘sugar face.’
1. Load Up On Antioxidants
Pesky AGEs are a real killer on your body’s antioxidant system, deactivating your natural enzymes which work hard to fight against free radicals and all the damage they cause to your skin. To combat premature aging and limit oxidative stress, up your topical antioxidants. Vitamins A, C and E are fabulous antioxidants for your skin, as are niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. Not sure which to choose? Then you can’t go wrong with our fan-favorite, Vitamin C Serum For Face.
2. Up Your Intake Of Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is another antioxidant that helps protect your skin from free radical damage. It’s also an anti-inflammatory and, according to Diabetes Action, has been shown to help reduce levels of sugar and lipids in the blood by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. ALA is found in spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, beets, carrots and red meat, but you can also find it in dietary supplements.
3. Get Plenty Of Zzzs
Your body does most of its damage limitation overnight while you’re catching valuable zzzs, so don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep for reducing the aging effects of glycation. Studies show that the sleep hormone, melatonin can reduce damage caused by glycation by up to 50 percent. Sleep also helps curb inflammation and regulates your blood sugar levels to reduce sugar cravings throughout the day. Win win.
4. Use Anti-Inflammatory Skincare
Skincare that reduces redness and inflammation is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth. And our favorite, anti-inflammatory go-to? MSM. Otherwise known as methylsulfonylmethane, MSM is a sulfur compound that helps increase your body’s natural production of glutathione, a super important antioxidant that works hard to boost collagen, quash environmental damage and fight inflammation. Try Vitamin C Super Serum+ to get your daily fill of MSM.
5. Reduce Your Levels Of Stress
Stress is bad news on so many levels, not least of all its effects on a post sugar high complexion. How so? Because, for one thing it causes spikes in cortisol, which accelerates glycation, increases inflammation, mucks up your collagen and interferes with healing. It can also affect sebum production, making dry skin drier and oily skin even oilier. Try to manage your stress by taking some time for yourself at least once a day. Read a book, go for a walk or take a bath – in fact, anything that helps clear your mind of the daily grind will go a long way to improving your skin – and, of course, your well being.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.