The Grooming Manual

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Does Sugar Cause Acne?

Sugar cubes

Sugar can be so hard to resist. But it’s bad news for your skin. 

Sure, a little sugar in moderation isn’t going to cause endless breakouts. And we're not about to recommend you live a stoic existence devoid of all sweet foods.

Still, sugar is decidedly not your skin’s friend. Sugar and acne are often mentioned together. But can sugar cause acne? And what can you do to control your breakouts?


Sugar and Inflammation

Sugar and other high glycemic foods cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to spike. That results in inflammation throughout the body - and puts you at risk or developing acne and other skin problems.


What’s the big deal with inflammation?

The issue is that it breaks down collagen and elastin, two of the essential building blocks of your skin. These proteins keep your skin taut, elastic, and youthful.

But chronic inflammation caused by excess sugar in your diet damages both collagen and elastin. So can sugar cause acne?

Yes, indirectly, because the results of all that inflammation are deeper wrinkles, more fine lines, and the early onset of the common signs of aging.


Sugar and Acne

More than 10% of men over age 25 continue to experience breakouts throughout life. So this isn’t just a teenage problem or something just a handful of guys struggle with. Part of the problem with sugar and acne is that it exacerbates problems that already lend themselves to acne and blemish breakouts. 

  • As sugar is processed, it causes your body to produce excess oil and has a dehydrating effect on the skin. 
  • That makes it easier for bacteria to fester and grow in your pores. 
  • And it doesn’t help that sugar can have a suppressive effect on the immune system.

Besides acne, what happens to your skin if there's too much sugar in your diet?

  • Dark circles under your eyes
  • Puffy, loose skin
  • More notable wrinkles - and newly formed lines
  • Dull, tired skin tone


How to Prevent Acne

Cutting sugar out of your diet is much easier said than done. Refined sugars are hidden in almost all processed foods. The ingredient list might not come right out and say “sugar,” but that doesn’t mean it’s good for your skin. Look out for corn syrup, dextrose, fructose - pretty much anything that ends in “ose”.

Reducing how much sugar you consume can be tough at first. So start with baby steps. Here are some ways to get started:


Drink More Water

Switch out soft drinks and fruit juices for water instead. It can take some getting used to, but your skin will appreciate the massive reduction in daily sugar intake. If you need something sweet to sip on, try green tea with a squeeze of lemon and a touch of honey.


Black Coffee Is Best

Your favorite morning coffee drink could be hiding more sugar than you ever would have imagined. Cut back on the sugar - or better yet, drink your coffee black and strong. Once you get used to the natural flavor of unadulterated coffee, you’ll wonder why you ever sweetened it before.


Avoid High Glycemic Snacks

Afternoon snacks are dangerous when you’re trying to reduce your daily sugar intake. Even if you go for a salty snack instead of a candy bar or gummy bears, it’s still going to have the same effect. That’s because simple carbohydrates - like those in processed snacks like potato chips - also cause the insulin spike and inflammation that sugar does. Instead, snack on fresh fruits and vegetables.


The Skin Benefits Are Worth It

Sure, life might initially seem less sweet as you reduce the amount of sugar you consume. But the benefits - reducing both sugar and acne - are worth it. Combine your sugar-reducing efforts with an effective skincare routine and you’ll have a winning approach to looking your best.

For guys who struggle with acne - whether caused by acne or anything else - naturally gentle ingredients like 2% salicylic acid, tea tree oil, grapefruit, and witch hazel. You'll find all of them in our Acne Control System.

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