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Does Sugar Cause Wrinkles? Everything You Need to Know About Sugar & Skincare


As the holiday season unrolls, sweets of every description tempt our taste-buds. 

You already know that high sugar intake can lead to tooth decay, a wider waistline, and even diabetes.

Robin adds, “And here’s another surprising side effect of too much sugar: wrinkles!”

But don’t despair.

The good news is that it’s possible to manage the effects of sugar on your skin with just a few power-moves.


How does sugar affect my skin?

The process is called glycation. 

What is glycation?

Robin describes it like this: “This is when sugar molecules bind to the skin’s support structures—collagen and elastin—and break them down.”  

Collagen and elastin are proteins, and when excess sugar molecules attach themselves to these proteins, they form what are called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

The results are among the classic signs of aging: inflammation, dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, and loss of resiliency, plumpness and bounce in the skin.


Do I have to give up sugar completely?

Absolutely not. In fact, your body needs sugar to survive. Our cells require carbohydrates (also called starches) for energy, and your body breaks down carbohydrates into sugar. 

Our ancestors did not eat refined white sugar, so keep in mind that your body can get all of the power it needs from whole grains, corn, root vegetables, fruit and dairy foods.


What foods create glycation?

The easy answer is foods that are high on the glycemic index.

White sugar and white flour top the list. White potatoes and white rice are right up there, too. 

The original, ancestral potato grew in the mountains of what is now Peru, and it was small, purple, and much lower in sugar.

Rice, too, has undergone similar genetic transformations in the past century, resulting in today’s bigger, fluffier grain that are packed with starch and sugar.

Generally, white, refined, processed foods are high on the glycemic index and introduce lots of sugar into your body and skin.

Robin adds, “Even if you don’t think you have a sweet tooth, there’s sugar hidden in all kinds of food like jarred pasta sauce, ketchup, yogurt, and breads.”


In addition to watching my glycemic index, what else can I do to control the impact of sugar?

BURN: Steady, moderate exercise like walking and swimming help to slow down the glycation process.

CHILL: Stress elevates the amount of a hormone called cortisol in the blood, so lowering your stress level by slipping under one of Robin’s sheet masks for a relaxing 15—20 minutes may put the brakes on the formation of AGEs.

Z-Z-Z-Z-Z: Not getting enough sleep also spikes cortisol and causes other neurological responses that can cause glycation. 

Trouble dozing off? Sleep-experts recommend turning down the lights inside your home a few hours before bed, and keeping your eyes off any screens (including your phone). 

Remove the TV from your bedroom to make your sleep-space a sanctuary for sweet dreams.

More sleep tips: try to go to bed and get up at the same time every night and day.
Doing this literally trains your body and mind to welcome the sleep you need, to keep sugar-related skin aging under control.


How does skincare help?

Robin’s Dot Your Eyes Power Peptide Eye Cream is a great place to start since the delicate eye zone is often the first area of the face to show the results of glycation.

Persian silk tree extract in this formula prevents excess sugar molecules from binding to proteins in the skin, and also signals cells to generate new collagen, so skin stays smoother, and wrinkles look lighter and softer.

The most visible downside of glycation is the loss of collagen and elastin.

Without these super-structures, skin loses volume, elevation and firmness, so Robin’s created other key products, too, to keep collagen production in full swing (even if you’ve got an occasional thing for donuts!).

Retinol is the skincare gold-standard for messaging cells to create more supportive collagen, so Robin recommends Welcome Back Youth Retinol Serum as a night-time treatment to steadily rebuild the collagen and elastin loss that happens as the result of glycation.

Welcome Back Youth Retinol Serum isn’t an exfoliant, although you may experience a bit of “shedding” when you first begin using it.

Retinol actually reprograms cells to turn over faster, so you’ll experience more new cells pushing their way up to the epidermis, and literally pushing older, dead, dry cells out of the way!

This is how retinol keeps skin supple, vibrant and firm.

Sun-protection is always essential, and especially important when you’re using retinol at night. Our Complexion Protection Duo pairs our powerful Retinol Serum with 50 Fierce Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Moisturizer & Sunscreen, a moisturizing sunscreen with the highest SPF level available, to shield freshly-emerged skin cells from UV damage.

Robin’s Nightly Skin Treatment Duo adds the rich nourishment of Hydra Qwench Moisturizing Night Cream to our Retinol Serum as the second night-time step. It’s a deeply nurturing follow-up after applying Welcome Back Youth, nourishing and replenishing collagen while you sleep.

So enjoy that Red Velvet cupcake, and keep skin looking equally luscious with Robin’s formulas designed to keep glycation in check.

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