What does giving up sugar do to your skin? One of our Klog writers, Emily, stopped eating sugar for a week! Read on to find out what it did for her acne-prone skin.
As a college student, I live on coffee, have boba tea four out of seven days of the week, and I love having a chocolate croissant with my coffee. Because I’m constantly under stress with tests and papers, sweets basically serve as my little “treat yourself” moment. No one ever says, “Oh, I’m stressed, let me chew on some baby carrots,” am I right? Yet, for a week, I gave up probably the one thing that kept me sane: sugar. All for the love of skin.
Now, I didn’t completely give up all sugars, just added sugars. That meant fruit, milk, and kombucha was okay. While this isn’t a total cut off of sugar, it was significant change. My first trip was to Trader Joe’s, where I picked up veggie chips, mozzarella, and some veggies. This healthy diet probably lasted the first two days, but I constantly felt hungry and was snacking a lot. Instead of sugar, I was replacing a lot of my diet with more sodium, which made me need to drink more water. So, I was eating chips and meat, but also drinking a lot more water.
How my week went:
I started my no sugar diet on a Monday, and it was the heart of midterms, which as you may know, is prime stress time. I really wanted chocolate—just something sweet at 4am, but the only options at the vending machines available were water, seltzer, and some pistachios. Lame. However this was probably for the best, because my skin usually freaks out when I stay up late snacking on things I shouldn’t be.
Since I basically never cook (no time, no skills), finding food was pretty hard. Pho became my go-to food because it doesn’t have sugar unless you add hoisin sauce or Sriracha. Also, instead of reaching for a mocha, I drank matcha over ice or an unsweetened latté with whole milk.
Real time: Okay, I cheated; I’m human! My mom offered me a truffle on Friday that she promised would melt in my mouth, and who was I to say no, honestly? So I ate two, and the next day I had a small pimple on my forehead, which thankfully went away pretty quickly. One thing that shocked me was how fast the pimple went away. Usually it takes days for even one of my small pimples to fade. It could have gone away quicker because there were fewer things to flush out of my system now that I was removing most, if not all, refined sugars from my diet.
What happened to my skin:
To be honest, the difference wasn’t wild. My skin wasn’t crazy before, but I do break out quite easily and ever since school started, my diet’s level of healthiness is really at an all-time low. Here’s me on day one and on the seventh day:
I have a lot to thank my current skin routine for, as usually the transition from fall to winter is when my acne hits hardest. My go-to products are pimple patches (which have become a staple to my everyday outfit), Hanskin 3-6-9 Oil as a moisturizer, and the Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil. The last two I mix together and my skin feels super smooth.
The one major different I did notice was that my skin felt bouncier than usual (not that it was ever really tight). This may be because consuming sugar has been know to lead to more signs of aging, because it’s a carbohydrate and it increases insulin production, which then causes your body to break down collagen. Also, my energy was up and my cravings subsided as the days went on. The day I came off the diet, I wasn’t jumping at cookies; I felt like I could wait.
All in all, I wouldn’t say giving up sugar did that much for my acne, but maybe I needed to go longer with no sugar and really not cheat. But it was definitely a wake up call for my dietary habits. After trying this for a week I will try to be more wary about the foods I’m eating that affect my skin, but it doesn’t mean I’ll deprive myself from a pick-me-up treat.