How excessive sugar is wrecking havoc on your skin without you realising it

How excessive sugar is wrecking havoc on your skin without you realising it

Sugar rush

Text: Emily Heng

Editor: Jolene Khor

As much as we'd like to believe that our enjoyment of Chinese New Year is in no way equivalent to the depth of feasting conducted (in the spirit of new, healthy beginnings, of course) our vast coverage of reunion dinner options, yusheng platters, and recipes gettin' piggy with it tells a different story. Oops.

What can we say — ignoring the siren call of said sinful spreads can be a Herculean effort. Our ultimate Achilles heel, however, lies in the buttery, the crunchy, the just-one-more-won't-hurt: or, your aunt's inescapable stash of snacks.


Whether you're guilty of one too many love letters during mahjong marathons or pineapple tarts in between rounds of steamboat, it is probably in your best interest to have 'em in moderation. Particularly because a ballooning waistline isn't all you have to worry about, not when your complexion is on the list of probable casualties.

Enter the party-pooper to end all snacking revelries: sugar. Found in a majority of the baked goods, crackers, and sweets you've been chowing down, the havoc it wreaks on your skin is going to last a lot longer than your almond cookie-induced sugar high. Below, the lowdown on what sugar really does to your skin.

1. It increases the odds of skin inflammation
A slice (or, well, three) of kueh lapis after dinner may seem relatively innocuous, except for the part where it causes a spike in blood sugar levels. This, inevitably, leads to a surge in insulin production — due to your body attempting to stabilize said blood sugar levels — thus increasing your odds of experiencing skin inflammation. 

2. It exacerbates existing skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea
The once popular theory that acne is caused by high-fat foods (see: chocolate, chips, candy) is not so much inaccurate than it is misleading. The true culprit is actually in the high sugar content found within aforementioned foods. The tendency towards skin inflammation (see point above) actually worsens existing skin conditions, with the high sugar content also working to suppress your body's white blood cells. And by that, we mean the hard-workers responsible for helping you fight infection. Gulp.


3. It speeds up skin ageing
In this case, sugar is your clingy ex-partner who keeps sliding into your DMs. Persistent, relentless, and somehow bearing a knack for swooping in whenever you're on your third glass of Chardonnay. In a process known as glycation, sugar attaches itself to collagen proteins, breaking down collagen and elastin which then causes sagging skin, wrinkles, and all the terrible things that comes with a fleeting youth. Uh, write us out of this narrative, please. 

4. It further aggravates allergic reactions
Fighting off allergens is going to significantly more arduous than before, considering how your skin is already weakened from a plummeting white blood cell count as well as skin inflammation. So don't get too surprised when a sip or two of ah ma's walnut paste has you breaking out in hives.