I'm convinced the dessert I devoured last night has emerged for its second life as a zit on my forehead. Sugar reincarnated? Not so sweet in the afterlife. And while not all breakouts, blotches, and patches can be attributed to our eating habits, celebrity dermatologist Jamuna Pai, MD, tells Vogue that certain foods and vices do indeed impact the appearance and overall health of our skin. So what are the biggest culprits to avoid? Scroll through to find out exactly how sugar and excessive alcohol consumption affect the skin, and how to treat the symptoms for a healthier look and feel.
The Skin Symptoms and the Culprit: Sugar
When we say sugar, we mean anything that has high fructose syrup or a high glycemic index, so anything from processed foods to decadent desserts. Pai explains that "excessive sugar dents the tight collagen bonds, giving you folds and wrinkles," because of the way your body compensates for an overload of insulin. This study also found that individuals who maintained a low-glycemic diet noticed an improvement in acne symptoms.
So while there are a plethora of other contributing factors like genetics, environment, and hormones, sudden breakouts and early signs of aging may be indications that there is too much sugar in your diet. And it's not just skin deep; excessive sugar intake can result in insulin resistance, leading to other health issues like diabetes.
The Skin Symptoms and the Culprit: Alcohol
The day after a big night of drinking, you may feel foggy-headed, achy, nauseated, thirsty, and overheated. Most of these not-so-fun symptoms are a result of dehydration, which will impact "all tissues of the body, including the skin," says Pai. Drinking alcohol will show in your skin in the form of puffiness, dryness, and patchiness.
The solution? Drink plenty of water—1.5 gallons of it, if possible. This will help flush out your system by removing the toxins from your body. And as much as you want to go for that cup of coffee to fight a lingering sense of fatigue, remember that it will likely only dehydrate your further, so pick your poison.
For more information, find out the other ways that alcohol can impact your body—and how to treat it.