Skin Care | Acne Clinic

Skin Science & Ingredients

It may only take a few minutes of brisk walking to work off the calories from that teaspoon of sugar in our morning coffee, but the damaging effects of sugar on skin can persist for much longer. While the body uses sugars as the nutrient source for energy and maintaining cellular health, sugar has a dark side, combining with proteins, fats and even DNA through a chemical reaction called “glycation”.

What is Glycation — and Why Does it Age Skin?

During diabetes research, it was discovered in skin that sugar molecules can bind to proteins such as collagen and eventually form advanced glycation end products (appropriately termed AGEs). These AGEs can abnormally crosslink collagen molecules, making them less flexible and ultimately contributing to aged skin. Glycation causes damaged collagen to accumulate as we get older, leading to wrinkles and loss of suppleness. In addition, UV exposed skin speeds up the formation of AGEs.

So what to do? Although it’s impossible to completely remove sugar from one’s diet, there are now skin care products that fight glycation that our office can recommend, as well as visually analyze the skin to see if it has been effected. You can also Google search “glycation” and learn more about it.

 Spots on the skin and dark spots on an apple, are they related?

antioxidants for age spots

The answer is yes, both are forms of “oxidation”; the same oxidation as rust on your metal lawn furniture. Oxidation is due to unbalanced oxygen molecules seeking balance by joining with another substance, sort of like a romantic breakup with both people on the rebound searching for another soul mate.  Unlike the lonely person looking for the perfect lover, the unbalanced oxygen atom (referred to as a “free radical”) isn’t too choosy and will bind to anything that is attracted to oxygen. This isn’t just infatuation, but real chemistry causing dangerous changes to what it binds with, especially within our bodies.

When this happens, healthy cells are changed into sick ones, even disrupting DNA to cause cancer. We can witness free radical damage to the skin from the sun’s UV rays by age spots, premature aging, and wrinkles. So we may not really be aging after all, we’re just oxidizing!

Oxygen is all around us and our bodies require oxygen, so there is no escape.  Free radicals are produced as oxygen’s bi-product of metabolism, even from breathing and exercise. But they are also in our environment from pollution, radiation, drugs, pesticides, fried foods, alcohol, and tobacco smoke, just to name a few.

So, are we fighting a losing battle with this invisible force?  Not at all! A secret weapon does exist, called “antioxidants” that bind to a free radical and render it harmless, so oxidation doesn’t take place. You’ve seen the evidence when using lemon juice to keep an apple fresh. Our body has the capability to make antioxidants from the food we eat, but loses this ability as we age. Therefore, it is a good idea to eat foods with high antioxidant content, take antioxidant supplements, and use skin care products containing antioxidants to keep your skin looking bright!