Home » “Sugar Face”: The Bad Skin Culprit Revealed

“Sugar Face”: The Bad Skin Culprit Revealed

Cutting sugar from your diet and eating whole foods will improve the overall appearance of your skin and prevent what is known as “sugar face” – the hallmark of a high-sugar diet and the one thing that is keeping you from having the complexion of your dreams.

sugar face girl looking in mirror

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Once with a list of skin concerns as long as the dessert menu at the Cheesecake Factory, I visited general practitioners, dermatologists, and did my fair share of studies with good old, Dr. Google.

Growing up I had problems with eczema, acne, and oily skin.

And I often had some unexplained puffiness and redness on my face on occasion.

Skin tests were done, my blood was drawn, and the prescriptions for topical ointments were given to me with follow-up appointments that just repeated this cycle a few times a year.

But there was one type of medical doctor that was never recommended for my skin issues: a dietician.

Sadly, when it comes to skin issues it is often a superficial examination, leaving most of the underlying causes untreated like one’s diet.

But with due diligence, I figured that if I cut out the sugar from my diet, I could possibly solve most of these issues.

Boy was I right! I had the sugar-face.

And the term “sugar face” has caught on in beauty circles thanks to social media and celebrities who tout to have gotten rid of theirs by going on anti-inflammatory diets.

So newsflash: eating sugar is not good for your skin.

But like me, there is something you too can do about it – once you find out what it is.

What Is “Sugar Face”?

sugar face illustration
Lines and wrinkles on the forehead, sagging under the eyes, gaunt look to the face, painful pustular pimples all over the face, thinning of the skin, a grey/pasty white hue to the skin, thinner eyebrows.
(source)

“Sugar face” is a term used in the beauty community and in holistic dermatology to describe the condition of one’s skin that shows the signs of consumption of excess sugar. Although it is not an official diagnosis for a skin condition, according to Dr. Nigma Talib – who is credited for popularizing the term – the appearance of the skin along with the placement of blemishes and wrinkles are enough to determine if one has a sugar face. Through this method of face mapping, the placement of various skin issues can reveal whether a person has a diet that is high in sugar.

What Does A Diet High In Sugar Do To Your Skin?

The effects are twofold: firstly, sugar is inflammatory to skin tissue. Foods like candy, baked goods, caffeinated drinks, white bread, and salad dressings contain refined sugars that cause your insulin levels to spike and result in inflammation of the skin resulting in acne, redness, and swelling of the face. Secondly, premature aging may result from a high-sugar diet. Excess sugar in the bloodstream may result in glycation – the presence of excess glucose in the skin fibers. When these sugar molecules attach to collagen and elastin proteins and break them down the result is skin that is less firm and supple and unfortunately, this process is irreversible.

In addition to acne, inflammation can also trigger and worsen a host of other skin problems like:

  • Eczema – an inflammatory skin condition that causes dry skin, itchy skin, rashes, scaly patches, blisters and skin infections.
  • Psoriosis –  is an immune-mediated disease that causes raised, scaly patches on the skin due to systemic inflammation.
  • Rosacea – a chronic inflammatory skin condition that usually affects the face, usually a flushed appearance
  • General dermatitis  term for conditions that cause inflammation of the skin (dry skin, itchiness, red rashes)

The Cost Of Treating A Sugar-Ravished Face

sugar face, the price to fix it

Throughout her life, the average woman will spend over $225,000 on skincare alone.

(Source)

Wait – let’s break this down:

This means you spend an average of $300 per month, or, $4000 per year.

Fact: In 2019, the acne treatment market was valued at nearly 11 billion U.S. dollars globally… However, by 2030 it is expected to increase to over 15 billion U.S. dollars.

(source)

How Much Does It Cost To Treat A Sugar Face?

The table below depicts the monthly cost of various methods of treating inflammation-induced acne:

Acne Treatment TypeTreatmentAvg. Price
Over-the-countercleansers, toners, spot treatments$30-$60
Prescriptionoral antibiotics, topical creams, ointments$45-$200
Clinicalfacials, chemical peels, microdermabrasion$75-$200/visit
(source)
ingredients that cause sugar face

What Ingredients Are Causing My Sugar Face?

When reading food labels, sugar is not always labeled as “sugar.” In fact, sugar comes in many forms and goes by many names so it isn’t always obvious to spot the various sources. However, it is important to remember that NOT ALL SUGAR IS CREATED EQUAL, and NOT ALL SUGAR IS BAD – rather, IT IS THE AMOUNTS THAT ARE CONSUMED that will ultimately affect the health and appearance of the skin.

Here are some ingredients to look for on a food label:

sugar face culprit sugar cane
  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Lactose
  • Maltos
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Confectioner’s sugar (aka, powdered sugar)
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Dextrin
  • Diastatic malt
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Glucose syrup solids
  • Icing sugar
  • Maltodextrin
  • Muscovado
  • Sucanat
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Barley malt
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Golden syrup
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  • Malt syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Rice syrup
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Treacle

How Do I Prevent Sugar Face ?

In order to prevent inflammation and the lasting effects of glycation in the skin, it is important to eat a balanced diet including a very modest intake of various sources of sugar. Here are three powerful tips to prevent sugar-damaged skin:

  1. Increase your intake of whole foods. By eating a diet that includes leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables, your skin will benefit from folic acid and antioxidants that fight against free radicals to help prevent skin damage and heal and repair the tissue.
  2. Carefully read food labels and avoid added sugars. Thanks to the new nutrtion facts labels it is now easier to determine how much of the total sugars in a food are added sugars (aim for a daily recommended value of 5% or less) -and don’t forget to always check for ingredients that may be other names for sugar (see the above list).
  3. Take supplements. B-Complex vitamins are the best for repairing and maintaining healthy skin and a glowing complexion. These vitamins include:

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): Anti-stress and inflammation
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Promotes healthy cell turnover
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): treats rosacea, acne, eczema, dermatitis, hyperpigmentation, sun-damaged, aging, and dry skin
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): Keeps skin hydrated and promotes elasticity
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Promotes red blood cell production and hormonal balance
Vitamin B7 (Biotin): Helps with cell repair and even skin tone
Vitamin B9 (Folate/Folic Acid): Detoxifies, promotes cell production, and tissue growth
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Regulates the production of skin pigment and helps to prevent dark spots (hyperpigmentation)

4. Drink plenty of water. Water keeps the cells in your body hydrated and is essential for producing collagen and elastin. It also helps to flush out toxins from the body, resulting in a better overall appearance in the skin. In addition, drinking plenty of water can help to curb cravings and hunger so that you are less likely to reach for sugary or other unhealthy foods.

Enjoy These Non-Inflammatory Recipes:

How Long After I Reduce My Sugar Intake Will My Skin Improve?

Once you dramatically reduce your sugar intake the results happen almost instantly: according to experts and countless testimonials, inflammation and redness will be reduced in as little as 4-7 days while acne spots appear less pronounced and begin to reduce while oil production in the skin becomes more balanced.

And the benefits don’t just stop there: after 14 days most people report an increase in energy levels and better mood and over time, people also report weight loss and less illness due to reduced chronic inflammation.

Now with all of this information, the only sugar that should be near your face is a complexion-enhancing sugar scrub!

Have you tried a no-sugar or anti-inflammatory diet?

Leave any tips and tricks in the comments below!

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8 Comments

  1. Ann
    August 23, 2021 / 9:52 pm

    This is so true! 🙂

    • familyandglamour
      Author
      August 23, 2021 / 10:25 pm

      Spread the word!📢

    • September 9, 2021 / 8:32 pm

      Aspiring dermatologist here!! Thank you for these tips, my acne has been acting up. Very insightful!

      • familyandglamour
        Author
        September 9, 2021 / 8:45 pm

        It has been 1 year+ since I quit sugar and my skin has never looked better.

        It works! Baby steps 😁

  2. August 25, 2021 / 8:02 pm

    Wow! I totally agree! This article is amazing & very informative. Thank you so much for sharing love!

    • familyandglamour
      Author
      August 25, 2021 / 8:09 pm

      I’m glad you found it useful! Thank for the feedback!

  3. September 8, 2021 / 3:10 am

    Soooo true. Diet is honestly a big factor for clear skin. Thank you!!

    • familyandglamour
      Author
      September 9, 2021 / 8:53 pm

      I know! You don’t realize it until you actually try it and see it for yourself!

      It’s been a year since I quit sugar and it has made all of the difference!

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