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What Does Sugar Do to Your Skin?

As we head into the final few months of the year, the holiday season has arrived. And between holiday cookie-baking adventures, holiday parties, and scrumptious feasts, you may find yourself eating more sugar than is strictly healthy.

While official nutritional guidelines say that you should only get 10% of your calories from sugar (at most), many of us are guilty of consuming far more than that by eating processed foods and drinking sugary drinks.

And while you probably know that’s not healthy for your body, did you know that eating too much sugar isn’t healthy for your skin either? That’s right – excess sugar consumption can have noticeable, physical effects on your skin’s appearance.

Keep reading to learn more about what sugar does to your skin and what you can do to prevent permanent damage.

3 Things Sugar Does to Your Skin

Sugar can have several damaging effects on your skin. Consuming too much sugar contributes to the following conditions.

  1. Exacerbation of inflammatory skin conditions. Eating too much sugar from simple carbohydrates causes your blood sugar levels to rise, which in turn increases inflammation inside the body. If you have an inflammatory skin condition like psoriasis, rosacea, or eczema, a spike in inflammation can trigger or exacerbate your symptoms.
  2. Premature aging. One of sugar’s most damaging effects is that it makes your skin look prematurely aged. Sugar breaks down collagen and elastin – the proteins that give your skin shape, structure, and firmness. When this occurs, your skin may start to look wrinkled, saggy, dry, and dull.
  3. Acne breakouts. Excess sugar consumption can increase the risk of acne breakouts. As previously stated, blood sugar spikes trigger inflammation in the body, and increased inflammation can lead to pimples, zits, blackheads, and whiteheads. Additionally, high blood sugar levels cause your body to create more sebum (oil), another factor that contributes to acne breakouts.

How to Reduce the Skin-Damaging Effects of Sugar

If you’ve got a raging sweet tooth, now is the time to get it under control before sugar wreaks havoc on your skin. Luckily, there are several things you can do to improve your skin’s health.

Improving your skin’s health starts by reducing sugar in your diet.

  • Recognize “hidden sugars.” Sugar is sneaky and goes by multiple names on ingredient lists. High fructose corn syrup, barley malt, maltodextrin….these are just a few other names that sugar hides behind. The first step toward reducing your sugar intake is becoming an expert label reader to uncover and avoid foods with hidden sugars.


  • Replace processed foods with natural foods. Processed snack foods like cakes, cookies, and candies are packed full of sugar. When a sweet tooth craving hits, try replacing your junk food with natural sugars from berries, fruits, sweet potatoes, carrots, and other whole foods. Plain Greek yogurt topped with fruit and nuts is an excellent replacement snack for high sugar processed foods. If you’re in desperate need of a sweeter treat, swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate. Dark chocolate usually has less sugar and additional health benefits (like antioxidants).


  • Cut down on sugary drinks. Simply eliminating sugar-laden drinks from your diet will make a huge impact. Fruit juices, sodas, wine, cocktails, beer, energy drinks, Gatorade, and fancy coffees from Starbucks are filled to the brim with skin-damaging sugar. Instead, stick to water, coffee, and tea to quench your thirst.

Outside of diet changes, there are other things you can do to improve your skin’s health.

Come to Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers With All Your Skin Concerns

At FLDSCC, our medical staff are experts in skin, hair and nail conditions. We’re happy to perform a head-to-toe evaluation and recommend skin care solutions that will keep your skin healthy and glowing. Contact us today at one of our convenient locations to schedule an appointment.

2021-11-01T20:28:39-04:00 October 31, 2021|