If eating sugar makes you age faster, what about sugar in skincare products? Do you have to throw away your fave sugar scrub now?
Not so fast. Putting something on your skin ain’t the same as eating it. Here’s why:
What Happens When You Eat Sugar
It sounds bad because it’s bad. And complicated. Here’s the short version: sugar is very inflammatory and reacts with fats and proteins in an abnormal way.
By abnormal, I mean that they produce something called “advanced glycation endproducts” (or AGEs for short – oh, the irony!).
AGEs are dangerous. They prevent your kidney from filtering toxins properly, cause cardiovascular diseases and wreak all sorts of damage that make your body age and fall sick faster.
Your skin ain’t immune to it. Here’s how glycation makes your skin age faster:
- Destroys collagen: AGEs alter the structure of collagen, making it hard and inflexible
- Inflames skin: AGEs trigger inflammation, the #1 cause of wrinkles and premature aging
- Gives you dark spots: AGEs can affect skin discolouration
Now, sugar isn’t a monster. A little fructose is good for your brain and a chocolate chip cookie does wonders for your mood (or is that just me?).
Problem is, we’re eating way too much of the sweet white stuff. Sugar is literally everywhere. Cakes. Processed foods. Grains. Sodas. Juices… Go take a look in your pantry. I dare you find something without added sugar in it!
This is the kind of sugar you want to avoid (or at least cut back) to avoid wrinkles (and a lot of other nastier diseases).
Related: 5 Food Rules To Follow For Younger Skin
What Happens When You Use Sugar In Skincare Products
Sugar is in your skincare product for a reason (or two):
- Humectant: sugar draws moisture from the air into the skin and binds it in, helping to keep it soft and hydrated.
- Exfoliant: sugar’s small particles gently remove dead cells off your skin without irritation (unless you use too much or scrub too vigorously).
That’s pure sugar for you. Then, there are all the ways sugar sneaks into your skincare products all masked up. A few examples:
- Ascorbyl glucoside: a form of vitamin C with added glucose that fights free radicals and reduces dark spots.
- Decyl glucoside: a glucose-based surfactant that helps water mix with oil and dirt so they can be rinsed away.
- Glycolic acid: an exfoliant derived from sugar cane that dissolves the glue that holds skin cells together and hydrates skin to boot.
You don’t want to stop using this stuff (ok, I’d stop using sugar scrubs because glycolic acid gives you better exfoliation in every way). You don’t have to.
The purpose of your skin is to keep stuff OUT of your body. Know the “your skin absorbs 60%+ of what you put on it” crap the natural brigade likes to shout from the rooftops? BS.
I’ll say it again: the purpose of your skin is to keep stuff OUT of your body. And it does a great job at it, too. But, even if a little sugar got through the skin, it’s highly unlikely it’ll be able to get deep enough in the body to fit into your natural collagen framework and destroy it. Phew!
Related: Why I Prefer Chemical Exfoliation To Sugar Scrubs
Shop Sugar Skincare Products
Does Sugar In Skincare Products Have No Side Effects?
I didn’t say that.
Bacteria thrive on sugar so if you use too much on your skin, you may have a nasty surprise. Oh, and you may attract bugs, too.
I know, gross. But, chances are you won’t. You don’t become a playground for bugs and bacteria when you use a sugar scrub or wash your face with decyl glucoside.
You literally have to apply a HUGE amount of sugar on your face and leave it there for hours to experience any side effects.
So yes, sugar in skincare products is safe.
The Bottom Line
Too much sugar in your diet makes you ages faster. Sugar in skincare products is a totally different matter: it exfoliates skin and hydrates it to boot. Just don’t go overboard or you may attract the odd bug!
What’s your take on sugar in skincare products? Share your thoughts in the comments below.