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How to reverse the signs of sugar damage

If, like the rest of us, you indulged during the frivolity of the festive season, you probably anticipated a little extra wobble or a loosening of the belt come January. But those additional dollops of Chrissy pud have affected more than just your waistline – science says sugar gives you wrinkles too.

This is how sugar gives you wrinkles

It’s called glycation: the glucose that enters your bloodstream attaches to proteins, forming harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that stiffen the protein fibres in your skin. In skincare terms, that means your complexion starts looking more sallow, saggy and wrinkled. 

Sweet heavens! How can I avoid glycation?

You can’t avoid it entirely, even if you try. Most foods, even fruit, nuts and veg, contain some glucose, so it’s all about degrees of sugar damage: alcohol and anything high in refined sugar is like an inflammation bomb going off inside your body – a sudden insulin spike increases the rate of glycation much faster than slow-release foods (such as vegies or brown rice), which allow your body to potentially burn off the glucose as energy instead of storing it. 

Glucose levels are a sticky balancing act – you need a small amount of glucose in a slow-release dose to fuel cell energy (your body can’t function without it), but you don’t want to accumulate more than you can burn off. Any excess that is stored will attach itself to protein forever and escalate the skin ageing process.

Does sugar cause pimples too?

Well, scientists have discovered that sugar can increase testosterone and oil production, which can also make you more prone to clogged pores. We also know that sugar causes inflammation, which speeds up aging and can exacerbate eczema or rosacea. Sugar is definitely not your friend if you fancy glowing skin. 

Can I prevent sugar damage?

A low GI diet full of wholegrains, vegetables and fruit is your first line of defence – it means glycation happens much more slowly, so you’re not revving skin ageing into top gear. If you cut out white bread, pasta, sugary treats and alcohol and replace that with lots of antioxidant-rich foods (like berries), anti-inflammatory foods (avocado and olive oil), lean protein (salmon) and fibre (broccoli and cauliflower are excellent), you may even see a difference in your skin in a matter of days.

Controlling blood sugar levels is a key part of preventing ‘sugar face’ (when your skin looks more sallow, saggy or wrinkly after over-indulging).


If it’s too late for prevention, can I reverse sugar damage in skin?

Prevention is always better than cure, but the right skincare can make a visible difference. You’ll need to use something that’s super high in vitamin C if you want to improve the texture and firmness of skin that has been weakened by glycation. 

Vitamin C protects skin cells against glycation by boosting collagen synthesis and improving the actual structure of the skin. The good news is, vitamin C can actually be more effective topically than orally because it doesn’t need to get past your digestive system. So start slathering!

So vitamin C is a good solution to ‘sugar face’?

You bet! Vitamin C does amazing things for skin – it reduces inflammation, strengthens capillaries, reduces pigmentation, improves skin hydration, reduces dark circles and puffiness, and actively fights off free radicals. Keep in mind that you need an appropriate dose in a stable form to make a visible difference to sugar-damaged skin (so if it’s the last ingredient on the product label, it ain’t gonna cut it). 

You need a high-strength vitamin C from a plant source. We particularly love Kakadu Plum – this Aussie native has the highest vitamin C content of any fruit in the world (about 100 times more than oranges to be exact), so we recommend using a product that contains this high-strength vitamin C daily. 

Where can I find Kakadu Plum?

That’s the easy part. A pump of vitamin C-rich Claire Hill S8-28 Assist Anti-Ageing Serum twice daily will provide your skin with an instant antioxidant boost to help reverse the signs of sugar damage in your skin. 

You can amp up the antioxidant effect even further by cleansing with an anti-ageing micellar water, which doesn’t need to be washed off. A no-rinse cleanser containing Algaktiv Lightskn is particularly beneficial as it dramatically reduce brown spots and Green Tea is rich in potent Antioxidants that work with Vitamin C to soothe, protect and calm your skin. 

All it takes is consistency with skincare application on your part. Use a vitamin C-rich serum twice daily in combination with a quality anti-ageing moisturiser and micellar cleanser and you’ll notice a difference in your skin in as little as four weeks. Sweet!


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