Most of us realize that eating lots of rich desserts and constantly candy-binging will have a serious impact on our waistline, but few of us consider the toll excess sugar will take on our skin. The not-so-sweet truth? Even the best skin care routine won’t keep skin healthy if too much sugar is consumed.
How Much Sugar Is Too Much?
The World Health Organization recommends that we keep sugar under 10% of our total calorie intake, and notes that additional health benefits are likely derived from adhering to an under 5% standard. The USDA cites that by the year 2000, the average American was consuming about 152 pounds of sugar a year—up almost 40% from the 1950s.
Consuming too much sugar is linked to a number of serious health issues, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Even if you usually practice smart sugar consumption, overdoing it occasionally can still have detrimental effects on your body, your psyche, and your complexion.
How Does Sugar Affect Healthy Skin?
- Inflammation: Carbohydrates in desserts get broken down into glucose, which usually causes insulin spikes that lead to inflammation. Inflammation is an enemy of healthy skin, particularly if you suffer from irritations such as acne and rosacea.
- Wrinkles: Sugar destroys collagen and elastin—two important proteins your skin needs for a firm texture and smooth appearance. Too much sugar leads to saggy skin and an increase in wrinkles.
- Hirsutism (the growth of unwanted male-pattern hair in women, particularly facial hair): Excessive amounts of sugar in the diet can lead to insulin resistance—a phenomenon wherein the body stops reacting to normal amounts of insulin produced to help break down sugars. As a result, the body produces more and more insulin, and these heightened levels are linked to hirsutism.
- Dullness: Too many sugar calories curb your appetite for healthy, cell-boosting foods that replenish your body, promote cellular turnover, and result in glowing, healthy skin.
What Skin Care Strategies Can Help After a Sugar Binge?
- Be diligent with your skin care regimen. Make sure you wash your face and moisturize every morning, evening, and after exercise.
- Don’t forget the eyes. Apply an eye cream to offset damage that can be done to the sensitive skin in the eye area. There is not much collagen or elastin around the eyes anyway, so damage to this delicate region can have more noticeable effects.
- Drink water. Flush your system with plenty of hydrating water that will help move impurities through your system and preserve your skin’s moisture.
- Address any skin issues. Attack skin damage with oral and topical vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that corrals cell-attacking free radicals and helps to build healthy skin cells.