Sugar in skincare

Sugar is a food that is considered unhealthy. Sugar should be avoided due to its many harmful effects. However, sugar has become increasingly popular in natural cosmetics. Sugar in skincare products is excellent incredient. It’s a natural, non-toxic ingredient that has lot of good effects on your skin. Learn why sugar is good for your skin and how sugar in skincare.


Sugar is not just one compound. Sugar is the common name for sweet, soluble carbohydrates. Sugars are naturally found in berries, fruits and vegetables. Honey is also almost pure sugar. In nature, sugars occur in combinations of many different sugars.

The sugars can be divided into monosaccharides and disaccharides

The most common monosaccharides are

  • Grape sugar or glucose, aka dextrose
  • Fructose sugar or fructose

Monosaccharides are commonly found in all vegetables, fruits and berries.

The most common disaccharides are

  • Lactose or milk sugar
  • Maltose or malt sugar
  • Sucrose, cane sugar commonly used in households

Disaccharides are special sugars found in individual foods. Sucrose is found in sugar beet and sugar cane, both raw materials of household sugar.

Sugar chemistry


Sugar dissolves effectively in water

The popularity of sugar in cosmetics is because of the fact that sugar is highly soluble in water. If you have a decilitre of boiling water you can dissolve up to half a kilogram of sugar in it. This amount of water cannot dissolve more sugar. The water becomes saturated with sugar, and the left-over sugar remains crystallized in the bottom of the solution.

Sugar has no pH value

Sugar has no pH value at all. The pH indicates the acidity or alkalinity of the liquid. No solid matter can have a pH value. Even if you add sugar to your cup of tea, the pH of the tea will still remain the same. Sugar in skincare product cannot change the pH value. This is due to the chemical properties of the sugar.

You must have heard that sugar is sour

This is not the case. The fact that sugar causes acid attack on the teeth is not due to the acidity of the sugar. If the sugar is added to sour juice or soda, the acidity comes from the juice of the berries or from the carbon dioxide of the soda. Sugar also nourishes the bacteria in the mouth that produce acidic metabolites in the mouth. Sugar produces lactic acid in the mouth because it attracts bacteria to eat the sweet in our mouth. Lactic acid is corrosive to the teeth and will cause cavities or holes in them. So, the lactic acid in the mouth is not caused by the sugar itself.

How sugar works on the skin

Sugar is a prebiotic.

This means that the sugar will take care of the skin’s own bacteria. When the skin’s own bacteria is getting stronger, the skin is rich in lactic acid. Lactic acid is a metabolic product of bacteria. It belongs to normal skin. Lactic acid keeps the skin well acidified. Therefore, being a probiotic is the most important feature of sugar in skin care.

Increased bacterial activity brings skin alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), which is classified as fruit acid. AHA fruit acids increase the collagen production in the skin and make the skin look younger. So, you don’t have to buy expensive AHA fruit acid supplements, as the bacteria in your skin can make it yourself. Take care of the bacteria of your skin with sugars by yourself.  When the bacteria are well, they make precious cosmetic ingredients for your benefit.

Watch out for sugars if you have skin problems


Because sugar is a prebiotic, it works as a substrate for just about all bacteria. Skin yeasts also use sugar as a nourishment. If you have any inflammatory skin condition such as acne, eczema, urticaria, ringworm, seborrheic scalp or any other, do not use any product containing sugars or other carbohydrates. The sugars merely nourish the harmful microbes on the skin. This will make your rash worse and worse. It is always advisable to consult a dermatologist when suffering from skin diseases.

Sugar’s two different exfoliate effects of the skin

When you make traditional sugar peeling from fine sugar and vegetable oils, you get an effective mechanical peeling. Sometimes such a mechanical peeling can be too hard for the skin of the face. Sugar granules do not melt in oil. Water is always required for melting sugar. If the sugar crystals are large and sharp, the skin may become red very easily. You can also get yourself permanent vasodilation of small veins.

Sugar peeling can also be done with powdered sugar

Sugar does not have to be crystal sugar. Sugar specifically increases bacterial activity on the skin and causes the bacteria to form lactic acids. Lactic acid is a very effective exfoliating agent. It does it scrub the skin, but peel it chemically.

Sugar moisturizes the skin.

All sugars moisturize the skin. You will notice it best after a honey facial mask. Honey contains grape sugar and fruit sugar. These two sugars are the best moisturizers for the skin.

All sugars are natural humectants, meaning they attract moisture effectively. Glycerol and hyaluronic acid are also humectants. Hyaluronic acid, in particular, is sometimes too effective humectant that can also dry the skin. It requires enough moisture around it in order to work properly. Glycerol also sometimes acts too effectively as a moisture-retaining ingredient. Glycerol requires at least 50% moisture around it to function properly.

Sugar never dry the skin

 Sugars do not have this effect. They do not absorb too much moisture from the skin. They are safe, mild humectants that never dry the skin.

The sugars are naturally absorbed into the skin and retain moisture in the skin. Sugar is a very simple, inexpensive yet effective humectant ingredient in cosmetics. As far as I know, nobody is really allergic to pure white sugar -but naturally, someone could be.

For which cosmetic products can you use sugar

In principle, sugars can be used in all cosmetics. However, sugars have their downsides. They are quite sticky on the skin at high concentrations. Therefore, smaller doses are better, at least before you know what you are doing.

Day Creams, Night Creams, Eye Creams, Body Lotions

Use honey for the creams. Honey’s texture is nicely buttery already and its crystals are small enough. Honey also contains really many micronutrients necessary for the skin. Bees have never accurately told the perfect recipe of honey. It contains hundreds of chemicals, and only some of them have been studied. Honey has a great effect on skin health.

Honey is also antimicrobial

It contains small amounts of the same resins also found in propolis. Propolis is a bee glue that can kill viruses and bacteria that threaten bees. Propolis is also used as a natural disinfectant for wounds and abrasions.

Recommended amount of honey and other sugars is maximum up to 1% by volume of the product. Honey makes the skin sticky. Even a small amount of honey in the product is enough to bring in a probiotic effect.

For hair products like hair care, hair masks and hair styling


Sugars are only useful in hair products that are allowed to have a short time effect on the scalp and hair. I do not mix any conditioner or any other things into the shampoos myself because the purpose of the shampoo is to cleanse the hair and scalp.

Moisturizing Hair Mask

You can make moisturizing hair masks by mixing honey with natural yogurt. Yogurt is rich in useful lactic acid bacteria that love the sugars of honey. If you do not want to use honey in the mask, you can replace it by powdered sugar.

Sugar is great for hair styling.

For facial masks and scrubs

Facial masks and peels made from sugar are classic in-home cosmetics. Combining fine cane sugar with high quality oil you will get a very nice peeling product. However, the sugar is quite crystalline. It can scratch and damage the skin. I do not recommend using sugar for peeling sensitive skin.

Honey is utra moisturizing and mildly antiseptic ingredient

Granulated sugar is not widely used for facial masks but honey is generally used ingredient. Honey is one of the best moisturizing ingredients of facial masks. Although it contains small amounts of pollen, people are rarely allergic to honey. Honey is also mildly antiseptic ingredient that soothes the skin. Many have made a honey mask in the sauna for the whole body. It’s a wonderful way to treat your skin.

Do not use sugar in skincare when…

  • Do not use sugar on your skin when you have acne, eczema, rosacea or any other inflammatory skin condition. Eating sugar can also exacerbate skin problems.
  • If your scalp is itchy and inflamed, never treat it with products containing sugars. Sugars also accelerate the growth of false bacteria.
  • If you have a lot of bacteria in your skin due to inflammation, do not feed them. Sugars are good for these harmful bacteria.
  • Eczema skin is very fragile and thin like paper. It is easy to get infected by bacteria. Therefore, the use of probiotic treatments such as sugars on the skin should be avoided. Eczema skin resistance against harmful bacteria is gone. If there is no purulent inflammation yet on your skin, it will come soon after using the cream products containing sugar.
  • Sugar peeling is not suitable for sensitive skin. I do not recommend products made from ordinary table sugar for facial peeling. If you want to peel your face with granulated sugar, melt the sugar crystals by wet hands first.

Sugar in skincare is a very versatile, necessary and safe ingredient. However, it is worthwhile to carefully study the properties of sugar. This is how you can avoid problems that may arise when using sugar.

You can read also: Natural Handwash made from Sugar and Thuja Oil.

Please tell us about your experience with sugar in cosmetics. Does the sugar suit your skin or does it cause problems?

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