Sugar: Bad for your body yet great for your skin?

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The science is clear: The more sugar you consume, the more wrinkles you will have. And it is all thanks to a process called glycation. This chemical reaction occurs when beauty proteins (collagen and elastin) come into contact with glucose, causing them to become rigid. They are, for want of a better description, caramelized.

The skin loses moisture, elasticity and becomes dull, creating the perfect storm for fine lines and wrinkles to appear. This alone is one of the main reasons why sugar is bad for your body (apart from increasing the risk of developing diabetes). However, did you know that if you apply sugar topically, something magical happens? Skin regains its smoothness and radiance.

How can that be? Well, the main reason why this happens is that sugar provides what most complexions need: Hydration. It hydrates by drawing moisture from the environment and retaining it in your skin, where you want it.  Some of the most common skincare ingredients found in beauty products are sugars; from the powerhouse polysaccharide known as Hyaluronic Acid to old-fashioned glycerine.

The new era of sugar in skincare

Bio-carbohydrates, glycans, polyglycoside complexes, polysaccharide matrices: Despite their complicated sounding names, each different type of sugar-derived ingredient refers to a special set of properties. Thanks, in large, to recent advances in the beauty industry, the compendium of skin-beneficial sugars has grown to include ones proven to enhance other key actives and the overall formula in general.

Take, for example, the Sorbitol present in Antioxidant Burst Shower Gel. It stabilises formulas containing natural surfactants and, when used at high doses, does not leave any sticky residue, unlike other sugars. Or the Saccharide Isomerate in Ideal Moisture Level Serum. Naturally derived from plants, this component is similar to the carbohydrates found in skin and it works as a water magnet, preventing transepidermal water loss.

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Another key player is Sodium PCA, found in Jojoba Quench Body Serum. As a hygroscopic (it attracts and retains water), it is considered more hydrating than glycerine, sorbitol or propanediol. What’s more, as a natural ingredient derived from glutamic acid, it is one of the key components of the NHF (natural hydration factor) and ensures skin is supple and flexible. Furthermore, it is not sticky nor does it change the viscosity of the formulas.

Ultra Revitalising Elixir, in addition to containing Sodium PCA and Saccharide Isomerate, has also been formulated with saccharide hydrolysate.  Obtained from the enzymatic hydrolysis of Schizandra berries, this substance has a unique composition of peptides, sugars and hydroxy acids. All of which are proven to improve barrier function and hydrate and soften skin. It is suitable even for the most sensitive of skin types.

Why is sugar so sought-after in skincare?

Aside from its enormous capacity to trap and retain moisture, sugar has also become popular because it is a versatile and skin-safe ingredient. Moreover, it is soluble in water and, thanks to its chemical composition, it does not alter the pH of the formulas.

And last but not least, sugar is also an excellent prebiotic. When the skin’s microbiome is nourished and well-balanced, its barrier function is more effective. The bacteria present in a healthy skin’s microbiome generate a metabolic by-product, known as lactic acid.  This substance is a very effective natural exfoliating agent that also keeps the hydrolipidic film healthy.

All hail sugar in skincare!

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