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Yes, “sugar face” is a thing—here’s how to get your skin back into balance


Photo: Death to Stock Photos
Photo: Death to Stock Photos

They say you are what you eat—so on a typical day, you’re a bright batch of kale and a happy cup of quinoa! But on those days when you’re reaching into the office candy dish by the fistful? Well, that 3 p.m. habit may start to show up on your skin, and not just in the form of a mythical pimple or two.

“Sugar face” is real, The Cut reports, and it’s not as cute as that scene in Gone Girl where Ben Affleck kisses the powdered sugar off Rosamund Pike’s lips.

In addition to all the science-backed reasons to give it up, “sugar face” adds another convincing case for ditching the sweet stuff. It’s no secret these days that sugar wreaks havoc on our bodies, especially in mass consumption. It keeps us up at night, causes inflammation, weakens our immune systems—and it’s actually addictive. When it comes to your face, it’s also not doing you any favors.

Harold Lancer, MD, dermatologist to the stars (including Kim Kardashian and ever-flawless Beyoncé), tells The Cut that sugar breaks down collagen (that bouncy stuff that makes your skin look young and plump) and weakens our immune systems, making our bodies less able to fight off bacteria, which then clogs our pores and leads to pimples. Sugar also triggers insulin production, which can “gunk up” our skin, Dr. Lancer says, and it creates an increase in testosterone, which makes pores larger and skin oilier—turning “beautiful female skin into ruddy football player skin,” he adds.

To avoid a case of sugar face, Lancer says the goal is to eliminate sugar entirely—and that includes fruits high on the glycemic index, like watermelon and cantaloupe, and red wine (#wineface).

So you’ve turned away the candy dish (and Ben Affleck’s kisses)—now what? Dr. Lancer tells The Cut that most people see changes within 72 to 96 hours. “They’ll feel better, their color will look better, their skin won’t be so oily, and they won’t be so dry. Their circles will be reduced, perkier,” he says. Sweet news, indeed.

Want to swap sugar for a healthier source of sweetness? Here’s our guide to natural sweeteners. And speaking of collagen, here’s why everyone’s drinking it these days.