The truth about sugar and skin issues


It’s the question on everyone’s lips these days: ‘Can eating too much sugar really affect your skin?’ According to Paula Begoun, Founder of skin care brand Paula’s Choice, the answer is a big, fat yes. “Absolutely!” she says. “Eating too much sugar can lead to deeper wrinkles, more sagging, dull skin, skin that doesn’t heal well, and could potentially play a role in the formation of skin cancers,” adds Bryan Barron, Paula’s Choice Content and Research Director.

Yikes! Well, now that we’ve cleared the air on that sticky question, let’s find out the truth about sugar and how it affects the health of your skin…

What changes happen within your body that can influence how sugar affects your skin?

“Sugar intake is all about glycation and its effect on crosslinking collagen among other structures and substances in skin,” explains Bryan. “This process causes the formation of AGEs (advanced glycation end products). AGEs accumulate in the body and definitively in skin. When AGEs are created, they activate the receptors for AGEs (called RAGEs). This process relates not only to skin ageing but also skin cancers and many other diseases. Sugars are also pro-inflammatory, and disease and skin ageing is all about inflammation.”

Is it true that eating too much chocolate can cause breakouts?

“There is no research showing that to be the case. However, the sugar in chocolate is a problem for other aspects of skin ageing,” says Paula. In other words, don’t just go blaming chocolate for all of your skin issues, it’s the sugar in chocolate that’s the culprit.

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What are the best products/ingredients to use to help treat these skin issues?

“It seems antioxidants by far are the best [to help treat sugar-related skin issues], either applied topically or in your diet,” says Paula. “It’s also vitally important to wear sunscreen every day and avoid sun exposure as the sun increases AGEs in the skin and is definitely pro-inflammatory.”

bh loves: Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum, Ultraceuticals Ultra Protective Antioxidant Complex, Ultraderm Daily Protector Moisturiser 30+ SPF

Along with your sugar-fighting skin care routine, Paula suggests helping your glow by munching on antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries and cranberries, as well as sipping on green tea.

Should we limit how much sugar we consume every day for healthy skin?

“Absolutely, not to mention for every other aspect of your health,” advises Paula. So, just as you probably expected, when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth and keeping your skin healthy, it’s all about moderation. After all, you can’t have your cake and eat it too!

Do you suffer from sugar-related skin issues? Would you try limiting your intake of sugar?

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