Sugar Shock

anti-glycation, sugar and skincare, anti-aging, glycation, skin damageIt’s common knowledge that too much sugar is bad for one’s waistline and health, but its negative effects on the skin are less known, yet just as detrimental. The process, known as glycation, is the result of a sugar molecule—either fructose or glucose—bonding to a protein or lipid molecule. According to Rhonda Allison, founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals, the glycation process is haphazard and impairs the function of biomolecules. When sugar molecules are present, they come in contact and grasp onto fats and proteins, forming advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. “This causes protein fibers, or collagen, to become stiff and malformed,” says Allison. “These AGEs often make the skin and body more vulnerable to the assailants that contribute to skin diseases and disorders.”

As people age, AGEs damage proteins in the body, cause inflammation of the skin, and impact collagen and elastin, leading to signs of aging, including acne, rosacea, eczema, hyperpigmentation, loss of firmness, and wrinkles. “When glucose cross-links with type III collagen, the strongest form, it transforms it into type I, the weakest, and becomes rigid and inflexible,” says Celeste Hilling, CEO, founder, and product formulator at Skin Authority. “This makes it more likely that skin will develop wrinkles at an accelerated pace. Collagen is the most prevalent protein in the body. Once they are damaged, collagen and elastin become dry and brittle, which leads to wrinkles and sagging.”

External signs of excess-sugar-induced aging typically start showing around ages 30 to 35, and according to Jimmy Moss, education director of North America for [ comfort zone ], glycation does not occur in the dermis when people are young. “Our youthful bodies produce more collagen and have more defenses to block the damage created by the AGEs,” he says. “Glycation waits until you are in your mid-30s before the damage begins to show. Combined with intrinsic aging, the visible signs of aging manifest rapidly as wrinkles, lines, discoloration, and edema.”

anti-glycation, sugar and skincare, anti-aging, glycation, skin damageDamage from glycation isn’t limited to the skin, however. The degenerative and inflammatory response associated with glycation can compromise the function of the bones, tendons, cartilage, teeth, muscles, and cardiovascular system and can increase the chance of developing diabetes and heart disease, adds Moss. It may even be linked to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. “As well as the more serious damage AGEs can do in the blood, liver, and brain, they also attack the proteins in the skin, especially those of the epithelium, which help form the extracellular matrix,” says Elliott Milstein, president of Biopelle. “The result is the improper or decreased deposition of collagen and elastin. Like photodamage, this kind of damage leads to wrinkles, damaged DNA, cell death, and potentially skin cancer.”


Preventive Measures

A new World Health Organization (WHO) guideline recommends that adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars, which are monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and natural sugars found in honey, syrups, and fruit juices, to less than 10 percent of their total energy intake to provide health benefits and help reduce the risk of obesity and tooth decay. Skin can also benefit from this guideline, as glycation can be prevented or slowed down due to changes to diet and lifestyle. “With any skin condition, there are intrinsic and extrinsic causes,” says Allison. “Intrinsic causes are internal and may include genetic factors, medications, illness, stress, and the natural aging process. Extrinsic causes are external and can include sun exposure, air pollution, smoking, cosmetics, and allergens, among others. When diagnosing a client’s skin, the goal is to find out as much about their lifestyle as possible, and if it’s possible to remove the root cause, the rebounding process will be much quicker, especially when combined with a healthy skincare program.”

There are also ingredients in skincare products that can help slow down the process and actually help to protect skin from glycation and promote all-around healthy skin. “The best and really only way to stop glycation is to reduce or eliminate the intake of sugar in the diet,” says Milstein. “Some new skincare products actually now include sugar in the list of ingredients. Nothing could be worse for the skin. Once sugar is eliminated from the diet, products with certain ingredients can help reverse the damage that has already been caused.” Examples of anti-glycation ingredients include albizia julibrissin bark extract, alpha-lipoic acid, alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, carnosine, epidermal growth factors, glucosamine hydrochloride, glycine soja, kombucha black tea ferment, omega-6 essential fatty acids (linoleic and oleic acid), peptides, reseveratrol, taurine, tripeptides, and turmeric. According to Milstein, DNA repair ingredients, like photolyase and topical retinoids, are also helpful.

 In addition, soy and its derivatives are rich in amino acids that help to smooth skin, aid in wound healing, stimulate elastin and collagen synthesis, and increase oxygen in tissues, says Annet King, director of global education for Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute. “Soy isoflavonoids act as anti-glycation agents to fight collagen cross-linking and also reduce inflammation and protect against UV-induced photodamage,” she says. “Studies have shown that arginine and lysine polypeptide can bind to sugar, preventing it from reacting with proteins and triggering cross-linking of collagen. This peptide molecule acts as a sugar trap, binding to the sugar in the body, making it unable to react with proteins.”


Price of Sugar

Because glycation is a current buzzword in the skincare industry, it’s important for you to educate and inform clients of the process and how it directly impacts the aging of their skin. “Anti-glycation has become a hot topic over the last few years, so it’s likely clients will be familiar with it and may be asking about it already,” says Allison. “It’s a good opportunity to provide value to clients through education. This could be via informative brochures or posters in the spa, hosting webinars or seminars on glycation and how it impacts the skin and body, publishing a series of blog posts, or putting together an educational email campaign. As part of the sales component, you can create a special anti-glycation treatment and homecare kit.”

Also, you can offer treatments and products that specifically help slow and prevent glycation. “Spa treatments typically do not address the reactive, toxic sugars that cause the formation of AGEs or that inactivate or inhibit the production of the toxic sugars that lead to AGEs,” says Annette Tobia, Ph.D., founder and president of Dynamis Skin Science. “Spas need to be much more diligent in marketing and applying products that go beyond the smell, feel, and superficial ‘look good’ test. They need to educate clients that prevention is the best correction and offer them properly formulated topical skin treatments that come to grips with the glycation process.”

Moss believes that to achieve the best results, facial and body treatments should incorporate specific and intense skin lifting, rolling, and smoothing techniques to unbind the collagen and elastin fiber bundles. In addition, clients need to be educated on the importance of incorporating an integrated approach to longevity and that lifestyle and diet changes are necessary. “The skin is a mirror and will always reflect what is going on inside us, both mentally and physically,” he says. “Lowering the amount of refined sugars along with simple carbohydrates is key to reducing glycation. It is necessary that the treatments target clients seeking change and who are committed to the lifestyle changes, required product usage, and treatments necessary to reveal a smoother, plumper, and more radiant you.”

Spas are the perfect environment to start the conversation with clients about the damage of consuming too much sugar, as many clients visit the spa for both wellness and beauty. It’s important to make anti-glycation treatments and products available for clients but also to educate them on the topic and offer advice on how to prevent and slow glycation—and in turn, keep skin looking healthier and younger. “The spa industry is perfectly positioned to be a game-changer in the health of our guests,” says Hilling. “During treatments and take-home talks, simply begin the conversation about the client’s diet, sugar intake, and fitness. Through these conversations, you can strategically market to the specific lifestyle needs of your clientele. Listening is the best way to build meaningful relationships and keep clients coming back.”

Help keep clients’ skin looking youthful and radiant with these anti-glycation products.—Jennifer Nied

1. Advanced Rejuvenating Concepts Rapid Renewal: Alpha lipoic acid and grapeseed extract deliver superior antioxidant protection and rejuvenate the skin in this treatment for aging and sagging skin.

2. Amber Rosa Reduction Facial Serum: Arnica, licorice root extract, oat beta-glucan, sea whip extract, and marine complexes treat skin inflammation in this hydrating and healing formula.

3. Babor HSR Lifting Collection: The dipeptide found in these products prevents sugar molecules from attaching to proteins in the connective tissue to help counteract and reverse the aging effects.

4. [ comfort zone ] Juvenate-Pro Booster: This cosmeceutical serum protects skin from the main factors that accelerate aging and helps correct signs of mature skin. It is ideal for use in cold climates.

5. HydroPeptide Face Lift: This three-in-one moisturizer, anti-wrinkle cream, and antioxidant treatment relies on anti-glycation peptides and a triple hyaluronic acid complex to restore firmness, hydrate, and improve the appearance of wrinkles.

6. Institut’ DerMed Anti-Oxidant Peptide Serum: This advanced anti-aging serum is formulated with Pro-Coll-One peptides and apple stem cells, which stimulate collagen production and prevent free-radical damage.

7. Nelly De Vuyst Lifting Complex Cream: This peptide concentrate is designed to boost the production of new collagen and eradicate damage caused by glycation. It helps to restructure aging skin by resurfacing and diminishing deep wrinkles.

8. Osmosis Pür Medical Skincare Catalyst AC-11 Level 3 DNA Restoration Serum: This patented formula activates the zinc finger remodeling process, a critical part of DNA repair, to reverse damage while amino acids, minerals, and vitamin C encourage the skin to increase collagen and elastin production.

9. Phytomer XMF Perfection Youth Cream: Extra Marine Filler (XMF) works in synergy with morio orchid, a rare seaside plant found in Brittany, France, to fortify and preserve skin with anti-glycation and antioxidant protection.

10. Rhonda Allison AGE Less Anti-Glycation Serum Enhanced: This reparative treatment incorporates Persian silk tree and a complex of the flavonoid chrysin, which aim to prevent the formation of AGEs.

11. Spa Splurge by Soul Amenities Hand and Foot Paraffin Masks: Green tea extract in these masks helps prevent glycation and improves the structure of the skin on hands and feet.

12. Timeless by Pevonia Collagen Moisturizer:
Containing a high concentration of marine collagen, this cream hydrates and softens skin while treating multiple signs of aging.