Can you really have the cake, and eat it too?

When the choice is your skin or another piece of cake, I totally understand the tendency to choose cake. I mean, it’s cake! It’s delicious. Who doesn’t love it?

And while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the occasional slice of birthday cake, or a few squares of dark chocolate, the truth is that sugary treats are actually wreaking havoc on your skin. All those serums, sheet masks and time, care, and effort you’re putting into your skincare regime, could all be for nothing if you’re downing sweet stuff all day long.

Sugar has a number of toxic effects on the body—particularly, the skin. I could write a whole book on sugar and collagen, (I will certainly follow up this post with another post on the specifics of sugar and collagen fibers) but for now, let’s just say sugar and collagen are not friends! Sugar breaks down collagen, which is also implicated in pores appearing larger. And as we know, collagen is the substance tasked with keeping skin youthful and plump. Sugar also triggers insulin production, which can lead to irritation. Eating too much sugar can also produce excess testosterone, which can lead to increased oil production (yep, breakouts).

In addition, sugar weakens the immune system -- 25% of your body’s immune system is contained within the skin. Skin is the largest organ in the body, and has a vital function in acting as an immune gatekeeper, keeping nasties outside the body from getting in. When our defences are down, our bodies find it more difficult to fight off infection and while we normally associate this with getting a cold, a weakened immune system can also mean your skin is less prepared to fight bacteria on its surface. The bottom line? Pimples…Blackheads…You name it.

Finally, sugar dehydrates. It literally takes moisture away from the skin (as well as other organs). And when your skin is dry, it looks tired, dull and lacklustre – it looks older! Think of your skin as a friendly early-warning system for what’s going on inside your body – a messenger for other organs who find it harder to get your attention.

While I’m not about to tell anyone they’re never allowed to eat chocolate again, I do think it’s important we’re aware of the role sugar can play in our skin. As always, it’s best to be moderate with sugar intake and, for the most part, stick to a fresh, whole-food diet.

The way I see it, if you don’t eat too much sugar to begin with, your slice of birthday cake will be that much sweeter.