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Skincare FAQ

Sucrose Skin Benefits Explained According to Studies

Have you ever tried using sugar as a face scrub? Or have you come across sugar as an ingredient in any of your skincare products? Well, technically, it’s not sugar that does the work (it is too harsh on the face). It’s sucrose. You see, sucrose is a natural form of sugar that is much smoother on the skin, and it contains certain properties that make the skin-pop and glow. And though many companies already use sucrose in skincare products, it’s still funny how people don’t know its benefits. Today’s focus is on what sucrose is, how it helps the skin, and whether or not you can use sucrose in your skincare routine. So if this is what you wanna know, keep reading. 

What is sucrose?

Let’s talk some chemistry. Sucrose is a natural sugar made up of two monosaccharide sugar forms: fructose and glucose.[1] It can be obtained from sugar beet juice or sugar cane. And the process of extracting sucrose involve diffusion, clarification, evaporation, and crystallization.[2] Sucrose skin benefits include hygroscopic properties[3], meaning it attracts and holds water molecules, works as an emulsifier, a surfactant, and an exfoliate. And though these might sound like big words, they are properties that put the skin in a hydrated and healthy state.

Just to get things straight, rubbing sugar plainly over your face is not the same as when it’s in a skincare product. Sucrose is harsh and has a crystal-like feeling to the touch. The abrasive properties make it not recommended for direct scrub. So don’t go rubbing sugar over your face. You might end up drying out your skin. 

Who can use sucrose for skincare?

If you are worried that you’ll get reactions from using sucrose-based skincare products, this is what we’ll say. Sucrose is a natural substance, and unless you are allergic or intolerant to sugar, you are good to go. Sucrose in skincare products can be used for dry skin, normal skin, oily skin, skin prone to acne or pimples, with black or whiteheads, with or without any breakout. In short, any skin type can use sucrose. However, do not use sucrose if your skin is easily irritated or overly sensitive to avoid the worst scenerio.[4]

If you want to, contact your dermatologist before you use it. And if you are not sure whether or not you are allergic, apply a small amount to any part of your body that’s unexposed and observe how it affects you after a week or two. 

Sucrose benefits for skin

Now let’s talk about some of sucrose’s skin benefits. Remember when we said that sucrose contains hygroscopic properties, works as an emulsifier, a surfactant, and an exfoliate? Well, it does a lot more. 

Here are the primary sucrose benefits for the skin:

First thing first, sucrose has a certain level of glycolic acid that restores natural oils to the skin[5]. It also balances the level of oil secreted onto the skin’s surface. Hence, sucrose in skincare helps regulate oil secretion and prevent sebum from getting trapped in the pores. You know the ripple effect of excess oil on the skin. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says that excess oil is the primary cause of clogged pores and acne

Still, on the topic of glycolic acid, sucrose exfoliates the skin from dead skin cell buildup[6]. You see, the ingredient has small crystal particles that work as a gentle abrasive in scrubs. So that when you brush it gently against your face, dead skin cells that cause skin dehydration and breakouts would be lifted off your face. 

Speaking about lifting things off the face, sucrose is also an emulsifier.[7] On a normal note, this means that sucrose helps oil and water to mix easily. But in this context, it means that excess oil, dirt, makeup remnants, and so on can be easily cleaned off the face without leaving behind a sticky or greasy residue. This sucrose skin benefit is why skincare companies formulate it into products like face washes or cleaners. 

Sucrose also hydrates the skin due to its hygroscopic properties that make it act as a humectant. So the hydrophilic or hygroscopic properties draw and lock in moisture (through absorption) from the atmosphere into the skin and the face hydrated.

Summary

If you haven’t heard of sucrose in skincare, then you are missing a lot. It hydrates, exfoliates, and cleanses the skin. It also works to fight against free radicals that damage the skin. Finally, sucrose is known to help balance the secretion of oil on the skin so that the face is not dry or saturated by oil. And when it comes to side effects, there are none. However, if you happen to have easily irritable or overly sensitive skin, double-check with a doctor to confirm if you can use it to avoid breakouts, inflammations, or skin irritations.

References
  1. J.M. Cooper, Sucrose, In Woodhead Publishing Series in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition, Optimising Sweet Taste in Foods, Woodhead Publishing, 2006, Pages 135-152, ISBN 9781845690083, https://doi.org/10.1533/9781845691646.2.135.
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/sugar-production
  3. Ind. Eng. Chem. 1935, 27, 3, 333–335, Hygroscopicity of Sugars and Sugar Mixtures, Publication Date: March 1, 1935, https://doi.org/10.1021/ie50303a021
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/congenital-sucrase-isomaltase-deficiency/
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information (2022). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 757, Glycolic acid. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Glycolic-acid.
  6. Chen K, Zhang W, Pan X, Huang L, Wang J, Yang Q, Hu N, Suo Y, Zhang D, Wang J. Natural Sugar: A Green Assistance To Efficiently Exfoliate Inorganic Layered Nanomaterials. Inorg Chem. 2018 May 7;57(9):5560-5566. doi: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.8b00525. Epub 2018 April 10. PMID: 29634244.
  7. Comparative Study of the Emulsifying Properties of a Homologous Series of Long-Chain 6′-O-Acylmaltose Esters, Ya-Ru Ma, Martin G. Banwell, Rian Yan, and Ping Lan, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2018 66 (33), 8832-8840, doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.8b02391
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