“Glycation” is a buzzword that is gaining more momentum in the consumer and retail sectors. Although most skin care professionals know the term, glycation is being discussed in consumer magazines, as well. It is always to your professional advantage to know what clients are reading in order to reduce the chance of being caught off guard.
The glycation process
It is already known that excess sugar can lead to a variety of health concerns, but what most forget is that too much sugar can also affect the skin. Sugar can be digested in many forms, including the consumption of carbohydrates and can even be formed via meal preparation. If there is too much sugar in the body, protein molecules can cross-link with sugar molecules.1 Once this cross-linking process has occurred, the new sugar proteins are called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The human body does not recognize AGEs as normal, and will produce antibodies that cause inflammation in the skin. Once formed, AGEs tend to gravitate toward dermal collagen and elastin.
As people age, proteins in the body can become damaged through the introduction of AGEs—one of the key factors in aging of the skin. The more sugar you eat, whether processed or natural, the more AGEs are produced. When the body is overwhelmed with AGEs, collagen becomes compromised. Effects of the glycation process at the cellular level of the skin’s structure may result in wrinkling, loss of elasticity, stiffness, accelerated aging and compromised barrier function. Other conditions that appear when microcirculation is damaged and cell turnover slows is a loss of volume in the face due to redistribution of fat. Although the development of lines and wrinkles is normal as clients age, it is difficult to see clients in their 20s resemble a person in their 40s, which is more frequently being witnessed in treatment rooms.