It’s the bitter truth about sugar that everyone wants to know: does sugar cause acne? The short answer – it can definitely be a culprit behind pesky breakouts.

Did you know that refined sugar is also bad for your skin in other ways? Eat too much and you’ll be dealing with a slew of problems.

Read on for how sugar causes acne, and 4 additional reasons why sugar is bad for your skin.

[At the end of this article you’ll see my VIRAL before and after TikTok of how much my face changed when I gave up sugar!]

Does Sugar Cause Acne
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If you are investing time & money into taking care of your skin, don’t reverse your efforts by consuming too much refined sugar.

Why Does Sugar Cause Acne?

The easiest way to explain why eating sugar causes acne: when sugar is eaten and rapidly broken down, insulin spikes occur in the body.

This in turn leads to a signal to increase testosterone release. Oiliness and excess sebum are produced in the skin as a result. When sugar is consumed regularly, it will also cause chronic inflammation (another aggravator of acne).

As you can imagine, all of that mixes up in the pores. It’s the perfect recipe for zits.

Does eating sugar cause acne? It’s very probable! To put it plainly, it’s crucial to avoid refined sugar packed foods like white bread/candy/desserts/sodas, as well as high glycemic foods that quickly transform into sugar.

Read More: Use Food to Help with Acne: 8 Incredibly Valuable Tips

For the sake of your skin – don’t make them a regular part of your diet! Now, let’s jump into how sugar can do more damage to the skin – by causing wrinkles.

skin pimples blemishes

Sugar Causes Fine Lines

Sugar is also bad for your skin because it damages collagen. Collagen keeps our skin plump, bouncy, and young-looking. Here’s what it is:

“Collagen is a hard, insoluble, and fibrous protein that makes up one-third of the protein in the human body.

In most collagens, the molecules are packed together to form long, thin fibrils.

These act as supporting structures and anchor cells to each other. They give the skin strength and elasticity.”

Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN

When sugar is eaten, it is broken down into molecules that attach themselves to other molecules like fats and proteins.

This causes “glycation” which basically links the amino acids together in collagen (protein) and elastin and stiffens it up.

The collagen fibers are now crosslinked which makes it hard for them to be repaired. These new crosslinked sugar proteins are called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

Consequently, this leads to wrinkles and saggy skin.

So when you are consuming too much sugar, you are basically speeding up the process of collagen breakdown.

Eating Sugar Causes Wrinkles, Breaks Down Collagen In Skin

Learning this had really hit home for me. I recently had gotten multiple microneedling treatments for my deep acne scars at the dermatologist. The purpose of the treatment was to stimulate more collagen formation!

In this instance, I felt terrible that I was setting my skin’s healing process back by eating excess sugar. Not to mention, I probably wasn’t getting my money’s worth out of the treatment!

Therefore, too much sugar can potentially reverse all your skincare efforts by speeding up aging and the appearance of wrinkles.

As much as I hate to go on, there are even more ways your skin can be affected by sugar consumption.

Sugar Causes A Puffy, Swollen Face

Remember the (AGEs) mentioned above that occur when you eat sugar? They do more than just cause wrinkles. Read this quote –

“The human body does not recognize AGEs as normal, and will produce antibodies that cause inflammation in the skin.”

— Kris Campbell, Skin Inc. Magazine

The swelling process, also known as edema, is the result of acute inflammation, a response triggered by damage to living tissues.

It is also worth it to note that insulin spikes cause water retention. This also makes your face look puffy and swollen. This is on top of the fact that insulin spikes from sugar causes acne too.


Sugar Causes Dark Circles

I think that you are getting the idea of how bad sugar is for the skin.

Let’s add another fun fact: did you know that sugar is actually very dehydrating?

When you eat sugar it dehydrates you because your body has to work overtime to get the excess sugar out of the blood. It does the excreting with water in your body! “If your kidneys start producing more urine to try to eliminate the sugar and you lose enough fluid, dehydration can result.” – (Livestrong)

When you translate that to your face, it means that you are left with baggy, saggy eyes and dark eye circles.

Sugar Causes a Dull, Pale Complexion

Speaking of testosterone spikes, testosterone does a great job of also hardening blood vessels.

As you can imagine, when you have less blood flow throughout the face it will make it look less oxygenated.

“The skin becomes sallow and lackluster…” according to dermatologist Dr. Lancer in this article.

If you are investing money in a great serum to make your skin brighter, imagine how much glowier you could be by cutting out sugar too!

You also don’t have to make your skincare work so hard when you don’t have multiple concerns to treat like all of the reasons mentioned above.

What Happens To Your Skin When You Stop Eating Sugar?

So are you now convinced on how bad sugar is for your body and skincare?

If you do choose to stop eating refined sugars and excessive sugar in general it is said that in about a week, you will notice skin clarity and less puffiness in the face.

After a month, you will see less inflammation all over! Check out this informative article here!

Skin Before And After Quitting Sugar

I cut out sugar for two weeks, and documented it here with this TikTok. Check it out!


Cut out all processed sugar, only had 1 tbsp of coffee creamer in the morning. Didn’t eat much fruit either! 🥳 #health #skincare #nosugar

♬ Blow Your Mind – Dua Lipa

When it comes to natural sugars like fruit, I now mostly stick to fruits that are LOW in sugar like blueberries because according to this dermatologist, even natural sugars will cause glycation.

He considers an apple a treat, and warns to not be snacking on fruit all day everyday! Personally, I wouldn’t drastically cut out all fruit in the long run, because there are great skin benefits in certain fruits. Cutting fruit out doesn’t seem realistic, anyway.

If you are looking for something that will help get you past cravings for candy, try this viral recipe of mine, linked here! I absolutely love Sour Patch Kids, and this healthy alternative is much better for your body and skin.

Does Sugar Cause Acne? Conclusion:

Sugar is definitely a culprit behind acne. When I cut out sugar, I experienced healthier, clearer, and more glowing skin.

I hope that this helps you with your skincare journey! Cutting sugar has definitely gave my skin a healthier glow. Have you ever considered cutting sugar out before?

Best, Mia

This content is for informational purposes only, and what has worked for me personally based on my own opinions. I am not a professional/medical doctor, and you should always consult your doctor or dermatologist on what will work best for you. The information presented here is not legitimate, official advice from a professional. If you choose to rely on any information from this blog, you do so at your own risk. Please refer to the “Blog Disclaimer” tab in the menu bar to read more information and the official disclaimer statement.

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