Is glycation the sneaky culprit lurking behind your dry skin?

-Jan 9, Jenny Paul, Beauty -

If you're battling sudden outbreaks of dry skin, have you considered that glycation might be what is causing it? We take a closer look at the science
At this time of year, patches of dry skin can be a problem and we often blame the usual suspects like central heating and winter weather. But have you considered that glycation could be what’s causing outbreaks of dry skin?

Put simply, glycation is a sneaky process within the body that is made worse by consuming sugar, so if you’ve just spent December eating sugary treats and drinking wine and champagne, then it could be showing in your skin, rather than on your waistline.

We’ve turned to Lumity’s Dr Sara Palmer Hussey, PhD to ask her to explain the science behind glycation and how it causes dry skin.

What is glycation and how does it lead to dry skin?

Glycation is a process that causes ageing in the body. It is defined as the haphazard bonding of proteins or lipids with sugars to form non-functioning structures called Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). Some AGEs are very reactive and have been implicated in diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

Glycation damages collagen, an essential component of healthy skin, by reducing its regenerative ability and increasing its breakdown. This results in the wrinkling, creping and sagging common in ageing skin. Glycation also depletes the skin of its natural moisturiser, hyaluronic acid, to cause dry skin, which further exacerbates the ageing process.

So, how does the body itself deal with glycation? It calls upon a unique dipeptide called carnosine that interferes with the glycation process. Carnosine levels in the body decline with age rendering the body more vulnerable to the damaging effects of glycation.

Carnosine supplements are ineffective as they are broken down in the digestive tract and not absorbed; a more efficient way of upgrading stores of carnosine in the body is by providing its essential building blocks in the form of the amino acid alanine. Alanine is also a powerful antioxidant, a major part of connective tissue, an immune system booster, an important source of energy for muscle and the primary amino acid in sugar metabolism.

Blocking the actual formation of AGEs rather than focusing solely on undoing the damage caused by AGEs once it has already occurred, is far more effective in promoting and maintaining healthy collagen, which ensures the firmness and elasticity of the skin.

If you found this helpful, why not take a look at the bespoke facial massage that A-list skincare expert Nichola Joss created for us and that you can do in your own home. And, this is how to disguise symptoms of a cold using beauty products – with advice from leading make-up artist Candice Meggan.

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