Does what you eat affect your skin? Part 2 (Acne)

Hello again!  In part 1 of “Does what you eat affect your skin”- I discussed sugar, wheat and how these could potentially cause a lot of damage showing up as skin ageing – all the things that we DON’T want to see when we look in the mirror!  Today I am going to share with you how what you eat can also potentially lead to a common skin problem even in adults…


4687180430_c3ff93615c3Sugar consumption can also affect acne. When our blood sugar and insulin levels rise, whether from a poor diet or from stress, we experience a serious increase in inflammatory chemicals at a cellular level. This causes inflammatory diseases such as acne to worsen dramatically. Cortisol and other adrenal steroids can act as androgens (male hormones) and stimulate the sebaceous (oil) glands resulting in a flare-up of acne.

Dr. William Davis states in his book Wheat Belly:wheatbelly-book320

Evidence suggests that it is not a genetic issue, but one of diet. Cultures that rely only on foods provided by their unique location and climate allow us to observe the effects of foods added or subtracted to the diet. Acne-free populations such as the Kitavans of New Guinea exist on a hunter-gatherer diet of vegetables, fruits, tubers, coconuts and fish. Japanese Okinawans, probably the most long-lived group on planet earth, until the 1980’s consumed a diet rich in an incredible array of vegetables, sweet potatoes, soya, pork and fish; acne was virtually unknown among them.

Cultures without acne consume little to no wheat, sugar or dairy products. As Western influence introduced processed starches such as wheat and sugars into groups such as the Okinawans, Inuits and Zulus, acne promptly followed. In other words, acne-free cultures had no special genetic protection from acne, but simply followed a diet that lacked the foods that provoke the condition. Introduce wheat, sugar and dairy products, and Clearasil sales go through the roof.

More recently, studies have once again pointed at carbohydrates as the trigger of acne formation, working their acne promoting effect via increased levels of insulin.

Woman with PCOS, who demonstrate exaggerated insulin responses and higher blood sugars, are strikingly prone to acne.

Insulin levels are highest after carbohydrates are consumed; the higher the glycemic index of the consumed carb, the more insulin is released by the pancreas.

There is so much more that I can say about adult acne and breakouts.  I will leave this for a future blog, but I would still like to end of with a couple of tips and a few of my personal favourite products to treat acne.

1.  Look out for products that are specifically designed for the oily and acne skin.  They should include ingredients like Salicylic Acid; Vitamin A; Benzoyl Peroxide and other purifying ingredients.

2.  Always ensure that you cleanse your skin thoroughly with an effective yet gentle cleanser – not the cheap & nasty products that will just dehydrate your skin making it look and feel even worse.

3.  Next, I would strongly advise you to LEAVE YOUR SKIN ALONE!  The more you touch and pick at your skin, the more infection spreads worsening the condition.  Use a spot treatment for those stubborn spots as well as a treatment product specifically for oiliness/acne underneath an oil-free moisturizer and sunblock.  I will write about all of these products in blogs to come – for now here are a couple of cleansers I have recently tried for oily and blemish prone skin:

2015-06-01 16.44.20Bioderma Sebium H2O R159.95and Sebium Foaming Gel – R169.95

What I like about the Bioderma Sebium H2O cleanser is that it has all the great properties of their legendary Sensibio H2O cleanser with added benefits for oily skin. It still gently removes all make up while purifying and regulating excess oil on the combination and oily skin type.

The Foaming Gel is as good as any good quality gel cleanser for combination, oily and acne skin.  It doesn’t foam up as much as I would like it to, but that’s just me.  Hubby loves this one!

2015-06-01 16.43.10Neostrata Clarifying Facial Cleanser – R419

This gel cleanser contains all the active ingredients to purify your oily skin and fight those breakout causing bacteria.  Added bonus is that a little goes a long way and it foams up gloriously – Yay!

Eucerin DermoPurifyer Cleanser – R79.95

Good value for money foaming gel cleanser for oily skin types.  I finished this one a while ago – therefore no picture!  Great for me and hubby – the type of cleanser you can leave in the shower and not skimp too much on using because of the good value.

Skinceuticals Blemish & Age Cleansing Gel – R832

blemish_cleansing_gel_retail-500x500I haven’t personally owned one of these – but have used it in professional Skinceuticals treatments as well as having received feedback from clients using it at home.  This cleanser perfectly combines targeting two issues that many women struggle with – Ageing and Oily skin (Blemish prone/Acne prone).  For most women this is a real frustration, because there are plenty of products for either of the two concerns, but not many targeting both at the same time.  You only use a little bit at a time and it foams up beautifully giving you a thorough cleanse without stripping the skin. It is both exfoliating (fruit acids) and brightening.

A final word – have a look at this recent article published on US News – Health News: Healing your skin with your mind – The solution to your skin issues, from eczema to psoriasis, could be in your head.  This links up with my previous blog: Stress and your skin.

If you are struggling with one or more of these skin problems and have tried different treatments and/or products – maybe its time to think about how your mind and what you eat could be the root cause.


Helene x x x


This has been a question that’s been asked for years by clients as well as skin care professionals. I remember as a student, we were told that it’s an absolute myth that what you eat like for example junk food, dairy or sugar can affect your skin.

Well, luckily since then we have moved on and have been enlightened by new scientific research to answer the question that YES – what you put into your body every single day doesn’t only affect your body weight (which is the main concern for many of us), but also your general health and subsequently your skin condition too!

This is a very personal thing and something you will probably figure out through trial and error. I have known about the potential adverse effects of sugar and wheat on the skin – but I believe I haven’t experienced it first-hand until recently. In my previous blog I wrote about my recent skin care woes in the form of redness, dryness and swelling (eczema) and a bout of mild adult acne on my face. Short term oral and topical medication worked for a while, but like most short-term solutions, the problem didn’t go away. At the first glimpse of stress/some irritant/cold dry air – it came back. Now I feel ready and desperate enough to try to find a long-term solution. Unfortunately with many of these kind of medical issues – it is often up to you to do your own research and figure out the long-term solution that will work for YOU. This can be a frustrating but a necessary path in the pursuit of obtaining your optimum health and wellness.

I will look at 2 of the most common dietary villains: SUGAR & WHEAT – and the potential of causing and/or aggravating 3 common SKIN ISSUES: AGEING, ACNE & ECZEMA (Acne & Eczema: Part 2).


Let’s start by clarifying this substance called sugar. Table sugar (sucrose) is made up of glucose and fructose and some say that FRUCTOSE is the real enemy. So this will include ALL the thousands of products in our grocery stores containing sugar often disguised with over 55 different names:

sugarGenerally speaking, if the food (can you really call it food…?) comes in a wrapper/box etc. it is called processed food and all processed food contain heaps of hidden sugars. And I’m not only talking about your sweet foods, check out the labels on your savory items too.

Fruits contain natural fruit sugar called fructose. So now what…? Fruits used to be an occasional treat for our ancestors.  Try to see fruit as an occasional treat or even one a day if you need to. Eat the fruit that you enjoy, but remember that certain fruits like mangos, bananas and pineapples are the highest in fructose. I’m not going to even talk about fruit juice… I think most of us realize by now that fruit juice is everything but healthy containing as much sugar as sugar laden fizzy drinks.

What about CARBS like bread, pasta and rice?  All foods high in carbohydrates rapidly convert to glucose when eaten. This subsequently causes a spike in your blood sugar levels and an increase in the secretion of insulin by your pancreas into your blood stream. Insulin has been labeled the fat storing and inflammation causing hormone.


Wheat is EVERYWHERE.  Just start checking food labels on anything from sauces, soups, ready-made-meals, deserts and all your “obvious” CARBS (breads; breakfast cereals; crackers; biscuits; pastries; pasta; wraps etc.) – and you will notice wheat is very much THERE.

Dr. William Davis, MD – author of the international bestseller: Wheat Belly states the following:

Wheat, more than any other foodstuff is woven into the fabric of the Western food experience.

Modern commercial wheat production has been intent on delivering features such as increased yield, decreased production costs and large-scale production of a consistent commodity.  All the while, virtually no questions have been asked about whether these features are compatible with human health.

Documented peculiar effects of wheat on humans include appetite stimulation, exposure to brain-active endorphins, exaggerated blood sugar surges that trigger cycles of satiety alternating with heightened appetite, the process of glycation that underlies disease and ageing, inflammatory and pH effects that erode cartilage and damage bone, and activation of disordered immune responses.



skin ageing

Sugars in your bloodstream can permanently attach to protein like collagen and elastin in our skin and rest of the body. This process is called GLYCATION and results in the formation of harmful advanced glycation end products (AGEs). says the following:  The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop. “As AGEs accumulate, they damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion,” explains Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in Miami and New York City. Most vulnerable to damage: collagen and elastin, the protein fibres that keep skin firm and elastic. Once damaged, springy and resilient collagen and elastin become dry and brittle, leading to wrinkles and sagging. These aging effects start at about age 35 and increase rapidly after that, according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Dr. Perricone also states that:  At the point of attachment between the protein (collagen) and sugar molecule, there is a small mechanism creating inflammation, which then becomes a source of inflammation in its own right. This inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen, resulting in wrinkled, sagging skin. In addition to inflammation, glycation also causes cross-linking in our collagen, making it stiff and inflexible where it was once soft and supple. Glycation creates “free radical” factories known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which also increase cellular inflammation.

A study was done demonstrating the ageing effects of sugar:

Scientists from the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and Unilever in the UK measured the blood sugar levels of 600 men and women aged between 50 and 70. Photographs of these people were presented to a board of 60 independent evaluators. What these evaluators perceived in this study was that those with higher blood sugar levels looked older than those with lower blood sugar levels. The researchers also discovered that with every 1mm/liter increase in blood sugar, the perceived age of that person rose by five months!

 Dr. William Davis states in his book that: Wheat can exert age-advancing skin effects, such as wrinkles and lost elasticity, through the formation of advanced glycation end products.


Look out for products containing anti-oxidants; retinoids and AGEs fighting ingredients.

Some of my personal favourite anti-oxidant skin care products:

2015-05-26 16.53.56 Skinceuticals Phloretin CF:

I love this anti-oxidant serum.  It has a super light, liquid texture and a few drops are applied onto clean skin in the morning before your moisturizer and sunblock.  This is perfect for my oily and hyper-pigmented skin.

2015-05-26 16.51.56SkinMedica Vitamin C+E Complex:

This amazing anti-oxidant has a velvety/silky texture making it more suitable for more normal to dry skin types.  It is also applied only in the morning under your moisturizer and sunblock.

F30030X-w1000Neostrata’s Skin Active Anti-oxidant Defense Serum

This affordable anti-oxidant serum has a liquid clear gel consistency and glides onto your clean skin every morning before your moisturizer and sunblock.  Oily skin types could find that they do not need an additional moisturizer.  Personal tip:  Don’t apply too much, if you do and then try to rub it in it can form little “bits” on the skin’s surface.

All products available online at and at all Skin Renewal branches nationwide as well as other medical aesthetic practises.

But you can’t get away from starting on the INSIDE.

Here, five steps to eat right and keep your skin looking its youngest.

I hope this blog has given you some useful information on how SUGAR AND WHEAT can cause havoc on your skin in the form of AGEING, ACNE AND ECZEMA (Look out for Part 2 where I will discuss Acne & Eczema!).

I will be writing about my efforts to eliminate sugar & wheat in the next couple of weeks!

Helene x x x