Our amazing and trusted Dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu, M.D. has been kind enough to share her incredible wisdom and advice on skincare with all y’all! Dr. Wu has always told us that beautiful skin starts from the inside out, and we couldn’t agree more! Below are her tips for feeding your skin through diet. If you want more, be sure to pick up her book, ‘Feed Your Face’, you won’t be disappointed! XO, Britt + Cyn
Most dermatologists tell their patients to use sunscreen, to protect against the sun’s UV rays. However, there’s another, sneakier enemy that attacks your skin from the inside out, that few skin doctors talk about: Sugar. As a Cosmetic Dermatologist, I’ve been fortunate to have been a clinical trial Investigator for some of the biggest injectable and topical skincare treatments that are now available (and I’m lucky that I get to try them all out myself!). But procedures and skin creams are only part of the formula for anti-aging. You also need to feed your skin from the inside out. After taking care of women’s skin for over 20 years, I’ve seen the effects of poor diet, including too much sugar, and I’ve reviewed the scientific research. Here’s the scoop:
Why is sugar bad for your skin? Let me count the ways:
• Premature aging. Sugar is broken down into glucose in your bloodstream, which then attaches itself to healthy collagen and elastic tissue molecules in your skin. This makes the collagen and elastic tissue stiff and discolored instead of supple and radiant. It also interferes with your skin’s ability to produce healthy new collagen.
• Aggravates adult acne. When you eat something that’s high in sugar, your blood glucose level rises. This causes a surge in certain hormones, including insulin and a related hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). The insulin mops up the excess blood sugar, but the IGF-1 has other effects, including an increase in sebum (oil) production, which can lead to acne breakouts. By the way, hormones are often blamed for PMS acne flare-ups, but I think carb and sugar cravings may play a role in monthly acne breakouts. So, if you do break out monthly, try your best to avoid sugar the week you typically break out.
• Worsens inflammation. Sugar increases inflammation throughout your body, including your skin, so it can aggravate redness, itching, and swelling associated with conditions such as rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis.
What if you have a sweet tooth?
• Have your cake – but eat dinner first. I completely agree with Brittany and Cynthia’s outlook, that you have to find balance, and you should enjoy life! If you feel like you deserve a sweet treat after a long day, go ahead and indulge! But first, have a balanced dinner with protein, veggies, and healthy fats, then dessert. This is better for your blood sugar than having a candy bar on an empty stomach. Likewise, if you’re getting together with friends and family, and expect to have carbs or sweets, pre-eat a small snack first (my favorite is berries and almonds).
• Save your sweets for later in the day. Studies show that having a protein-containing breakfast (eggs; Greek yogurt) helps stabilize your blood sugar all day (even if you eat carbs or sugar later in the day). On the other hand, eating a sweet or high carb breakfast (pancakes with syrup; toast and jam; muffins) will make your blood sugar swing wildly all day.
• Beware of liquid sugar. If you enjoy fruity cocktails, leave off the sugar rim, and ask the bartender to go light on the syrup. Better yet, order wine, which contains polyphenol antioxidants to protect your skin’s collagen.
Dr. Jessica Wu for The Sweet Life By Brittany + Cynthia Daniel
Dr Jessica Wu is a cosmetic dermatologist in Los Angeles. Her lifelong obsession with skin and beauty started when she was a young girl who struggled with severe skin rashes and later, cystic acne. Determined to find the answers to her skin problems and to help others, she received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and continued her dermatology training at USC School of Medicine, where she now volunteers her time to teach medical students and doctors-in-training. Over the past 20+ years of treating patients, she has seen the effects of food choices on skin health, which led her to write her best-selling book, Feed Your Face. She is an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology and the Medical Council of the American Society for Nutrition, and lectures nationally and internationally about diet and skin, as well as noninvasive cosmetic treatments.
You can view Dr. Wu’s website here, or follow her on Instagram here.