By Maggie Staszcuk
It’s well documented that nutrition plays an important role in the health of the skin, and some foods more than others may be contributing to the aging process. At the top of the list are grease and sugar, which spell double trouble for the skin.
A Look at Sugar
The term “sugar face” is based on a real concept—and it’s not a term of endearment. Glycation is the toxic effect sugar has on the skin, which causes a breakdown of collagen fibers and leads to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. It can also weaken the immune system and suppress its ability to fight bacteria, causing an increase in acne breakouts. If that weren’t enough, sugar can also increase testosterone levels in women but decrease them in men. Regardless of which effect may be applicable to you, this is a huge roadblock for vibrant, bouncy skin. A rise in testosterone levels can harden blood vessels, enlarge pores, and increase oil production, and skin may become lackluster and sallow. A fall in testosterone levels can lead to low libido, obesity, and diabetes,1 and the skin may appear ruddy and puffy.
The old wives’ tale that fried foods increase oil production is just that—a tale. The fats and grease in foods do not directly contribute to the oils produced by the skin. But that doesn’t mean fats are off the hook. While fats don’t directly cause oil production, they can have an impact on inflammation that’s associated with acne. Fried foods are fully oxidized saturated fats and often lead to skin puffiness and poor circulation.2
Obviously, greasy fats and sugars only skim the surface when it comes to foods that affect skin health. Alcohol, caffeine, processed meats, salts, and other foods can have negative effects on the skin. But the bottom line is: there’s an increasing awareness for whole-body health and the link to healthy skin.
Beautiful skin comes from a combination of factors including genetics, skin care, and lifestyle factors. It’s suggested that estheticians partner with and refer clients to a nutritional counselor and only make general health recommendations. In other words, do not make recommendations that are intended to treat or cure a medical condition; It's out of scope for an esthetician to prescribe nutritional supplements or to treat disease.
ASCP's Esty Talk episode 150, Foods That Affect Your Face, dive into some of the foods that are ruining your client’s skin as well as the role estheticians play when it comes to nutritional counseling.