Sugar. We love it, we crave it & we do our best to avoid it. The human brain can be biologically impaired when it comes to excess sugar intake; our cognitive abilities degrade and our self-control is pushed to the limit. We all know the (many) reasons to avoid over-consuming it - like chronic inflammation, poor dental health, weight gain that can lead to liver or heart disease, & glycation (a natural aging process that’s exacerbated by sugar) - but what if we told you there’s a seriously beneficial way to incorporate sugar into your life? It turns out, sugar may not always be so bad.
Topical Skin Care
You read that right. Your everyday skin care routine is a perfect place to introduce this controversial ingredient. Now hear us out. Not all sugar is created equal - discover how sugar can gently support skin health. How? Let’s explore this sweet ingredient in its many forms below.
Sugar Cane Extract
Saccharum officinarum, or as we’re discussing it here, sugarcane, is a hearty species of grass that originates from Southeast Asia. Beloved by cosmetic chemists and skin care formulators, this plant extract contains humectant (moisturizing) and exfoliating properties.
Sugar cane extract contains glycolic acid, falling under the category of an alpha-hydroxy acid, or AHA. AHAs are water-soluble acids, with their most common sources being fruit, and you guessed it, sugar cane! They work by gently peeling away dead skin cells on the surface to unveil more even-toned skin. AHAs, like the glycolic acid found in sugar cane extract, are an excellent option to help aid skin that has hyperpigmentation or a rough texture.
Sugar Maple Extract
Just reading this ingredient name, we’re dreaming of warm morning waffles topped with freshly tapped Vermont maple syrup. But let’s switch gears. This sugar extract is in fact from the very same source as your morning breakfast syrup, but formulated into skin care, this extract can help reduce signs of aging and more. This particular sugar extract is also a member of the AHA family, containing malic & tartaric acids. Let’s break them down:
- Malic Acid: Most commonly found in apples, malic acid is an AHA beloved for its ability to help reduce the appearance of fine lines, even-out discoloration known as hyperpigmentation & reduce congestion in the skin. But what sets it apart from other AHAs, you ask? It’s molecule size. Larger than other AHAs (like glycolic acid), it is unable to penetrate the skin as deeply, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While this does mean it may not be as effective as other AHAs in its family, it is however a more suitable option for sensitive skin types that have experienced irritation from other AHAs.
- Tartaric Acid: The largest in molecular size than other AHAs mentioned in this post, tartaric acid is an AHA that’s often added to formulations to help enhance the performance of other AHAs when it comes to sloughing away dead skin cells.
Find these delicate exfoliators in our Facial Cleanser. Gentle enough for daily use, the sugar cane extract & Sugar Maple Extract support skin function by gently exfoliating dead skin cells as you wash, revealing fresh, more even-toned skin.
Sucrose (Sugar) Extract
Consumed through sweet baked goods or sugary beverages (added sugar can be sneakily hidden in many coffee drinks & even gut-healthy drinks like Kombucha), sugar can be detrimental to skin health and appearance. The natural process of glycation (a process in which our skin ages) is excelled with the introduction of sugar, and sugar has also been known to cause breakouts and inflammation. But fear not, when sugar is topically applied, skin reaps many benefits.
Sucrose is most likely the most common form of sugar you may be familiar with. It is naturally a humectant and an exfoliant (an AHA). Humectants work by attracting and retaining moisture in the air to seal in hydration. Similar to the Sugar Cane Extract discussed above, sucrose is a natural source of glycolic acid that helps slough away dead cells at the skin’s topmost later to help uncover smoother, brighter skin. Sucrose takes form in the shape of small, crystalline particles which allow it to perform as a gentle abrasive to remove the top layer of dead skin cells and buildup that can lead to congestion, breakouts, or a dull complexion.
Put sugar to work with our Hibiscus Mask & Scrub. Use it as a gentle facial scrub 2-3 times weekly, or opt for a face mask 1-2 per week. Let sit for 15 minutes & rinse.
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Enjoy your day!
Lisa and Rich Jelinek