Originally published: January 31, 2022 by Marissa Matozzo on shefinds.com

Hitting the big 4-0 is a major accomplishment and something to celebrate with self-care. If you want to preserve your youthful glow with a consistent skincare routine, another important part of caring for aging skin is your diet. We spoke with skincare and health experts about the one food many people are aware of that is bad for the skin and another that you might not expect.

The Commonly Known Culprit for Worse Skin— Sugar

You might have heard about the infamous effects consuming heavy amounts of sugar can have on your skin. Just for a refresher, we spoke with skin expert, Dr. Simran Sethi, MD, MBA, and founder of RenewMD Beauty & Wellness about why anyone over 40 should avoid excessive sugar.

“Sugar should definitely be consumed in moderation by women over 40 because excess sugar intake has been shown to intrinsically damage and age our skin due to the formation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs),” Sethi explains. “In fact, sugar ages our skin just like smoking, pollution, and UV radiation,” adds Sethi.

When there is an excess of glucose in the body, Sethi says, it cross-links with collagen and elastin, proteins that give our skin its firmness and elasticity. “Sugar cross-linking hardens skin proteins, making skin weaker, thinner, and less hydrated,” says Sethi. “The damaged skin proteins result in increased and premature wrinkles, sagging and discoloration of the skin.”

Additionally, glycation also occurs in our blood vessel proteins, joints, and other important organs, “which further emphasizes the importance of judicious sugar consumption in the 40s,” notes Sethi. While sugar is important to avoid (and a notorious food for deterring skin health), there is another culprit of worse skin that you might consume often and not be aware of.

Surprising Skin-Worsening Effects of Margarine

Many people know consuming sugar is very unhealthy for an anti-aging skincare routine, but aren’t aware of the damaging effects of margarine. Robyn Newmark, skincare expert and founder & CEO of Newmark Beauty, explains why it’s best to avoid this food as well as sugar when caring for aging skin.

“Margarine is one food you should avoid if you want to prevent wrinkles and dry skin,” Newmark says. Alternatives to butter, such as margarine, are frequently made with partially hydrogenated oils, one of the most prevalent trans fats.

“While trans fats contribute to heart disease, they may also accelerate the skin’s aging process,” adds Newmark. Trans-fatty acids make the skin more susceptible to ultraviolet radiation, which can cause damage to the elastin and collagen in the skin. “Additionally, margarine can cause chronic inflammation, speeding up the formation of wrinkles,” says Newmark.

Overall, whether you’ve known about the skin-worsening effects of sugar and margarine before or just learned today, it’s best to avoid heavy consumption of these foods when practicing an anti-aging skincare routine. For more information on these foods and others that are best for your skin, visit your local dermatologist or skincare expert.