Is glycation ageing you: Sugar and Skin

Forget weight gain, it’s the sticky (*and yummy*) relationship between sugar and your skin that may make you want to curb your sweet tooth. Sugar is responsible for a process called glycation, which ain't pretty. To understand why it happens and how your sugar habit might be showing on your face, we spoke to the experts.

What is glycation?

A really hot topic in the skincare world right now is this idea glycation. Which is essentially when blood sugar goes up too rapidly, the sugar itself attaches it to collagen and this makes the skin quite stiff and inflexible. Which in turn, loses our elastic resilience in the skin and gives you deeper wrinkles and makes you look older.

We're afraid that’s not all. Glycation also causes free radical formation, oxidative stress and inflammation, all of which accelerate ageing.

Why glycation can cause both wrinkles and breakouts

We’re familiar with the fact that compromised collagen production equals skin sagging (and therefore wrinkle formation), but sugar is also a powerful dehydrating agent. It not only boosts sebum production but also affects water binding.  This can make your skin look less bouncy and greyish, adding to those unwanted dark circles around your eyes.

* I know for me, if I (accidentally) eat too must chocolate at night, I will guaranteed wake up with puffy eyes - that is inflammation right there!* 

Meanwhile, the white stuff can also contribute to blemishes in two ways. Sugar and refined carbohydrates cause a surge of the hormone insulin, which may then increase your levels of testosterone and in turn can contribute to acne. Secondly, as it can stimulate sebum production, pores can get clogged more easily and inflammation can occur. 

sugar and skin

How to avoid sugar face

1. Sleep More

Sleep deprivation is also known to impair insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance,, which means that glycation is more likely. Make sure you are getting a minimum six to eight hours of sleep per night.  We've got a handy Sleep Guide here. 

2. Make Real Food a Priority 

Make sure your meals contain a portion of fat and protein, which will keep your blood sugar stable and make you feel fuller for longer.  A serve of protein could look like a palm size piece of met or fish, or three eggs or a cup of legumes like lentils or chickpeas.  A portion of fats can be added to a meal in the form of  half an avocado, 30gm butter or 30ml olive oil and a handful of buts and seeds.  

3. Drink More Water

Often thirst is mistaken for hunger. If you are hit with a sugar craving, drink a glass of water first and wait 15 minutes –  you’ll be surprised at how much the urge subsides. Stay hydrated during the day and aim to drink at least 1.5L of fluid/day. You can’t count coffee, but you can include herbal teas in your daily quota.

4. Be Prepared

Good nutrition comes down to good organisation. Carve out some time on the weekend to prepare your meal plan for the week, note down days you are out for dinner or late home from work / ferrying kids around etc so you can always make sure you're sitting down to a nutritious meal. 


For personalised nutritional support, please find out more about our consultation and program options here.

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