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The Holidays, Sugar and Your Skin

Get through the season without wrecking your complexion.

The Holidays, Sugar and Your Skin

Are you a sugar addict? You may worry about the impact that sugar has to your waistline and your brain, but do you know that sugar can make your skin look older?

Research has found that diets high in sugar may not be so sweet for your skin, causing wrinkles, sagging and possibly even acne. Sugar can trigger a process known as glycation—meaning that sugars in the bloodstream can attach to protein and create a by-product that damages collagen and elastin, leading to connective tissue damage in your skin. Glycation can also discolor your skin, making it look sallow or yellowish, and leave your skin more susceptible to sun damage.

If that’s not bad enough, there is also some evidence that high sugar diets can worsen acne. Sugar triggers a rush of insulin and hormones, which some scientists suspect can stimulate oil production and inflame the skin.

Column: Top 10 Sugar Foods (and Secret Sugar Foods)

Luckily, there are some ways that you can reverse or prevent some of the damage from your daily dessert habit!

 Take the sweet out:

  • Cakes, candy, soda—all the obvious sources of sugar—should be eaten rarely or at least in moderation.
  • Your skin can also be affected by the not-so-obvious sources of sugar, including white breads, white rice and pasta, and ingredients that are sugar under a different name: maple syrup, corn syrup, turbinado, dextrose and fructose.
  • Consuming foods rich in antioxidants can prevent glycation from occurring, so up your daily intake of things such as berries, dark green vegetables, green tea and dried herbs (think cinnamon, ginger, tumeric, oregano).

MORE: Acne, Decoded

Treat the surface of your skin:

  • Antioxidants in skincare products can also help improve the tone and texture of your skin. Dior L'Or de Vie Le Serum or Revaleskin Intense Recovery are both packed with antioxidants and can help your skin fight back against damage.
  • Retinoids can help replace the collagen that you may lose through glycation. There are prescription options that you can get from your dermatologist, such as prescription retinoids like Differin Gel or Tazorac Cream which are approved to treat acne, and over the counter, you can find products with a lower concentration, including Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum.
  • If you are concerned about the color or texture of your skin, your dermatologist can use a cool new imaging tool called the Visia complexion analysis machine, which can actually show what is sort of vascular or pigmentation issues are going on under the surface of your skin—sometimes before they even start to show up.

MORE: Beating the Winter Skin Blues

Up the ante on your sun protection:

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