I know all about Gwyneth Paltrow’s breakfast “smoothie” made of hard-to-pronounce ingredients like ashwagandha and he shou wu. And I’ve heard how Heidi Klum and Megan Fox take shots of vinegar. But when Rosie Huntington-Whitely recently told InStyle that’s she’s given up sugar, dairy, gluten, and alcohol as part of a new diet plan created by naturopath and skin-care expert Nigma Talib, I just couldn’t imagine any human actually being able to sustain it. “I’m not gonna lie, it’s been brutal,” Huntington-Whitely told the magazine. “It’s been a really big challenge.” And for a brief second, I found myself thinking, She’s just like me. How naive! But Talib and Huntington-Whiteley are onto something. I’ve been mid-facial when an aesthetician has looked at my complexion under that harsh light and said, “You need to give up sugar.” How did she know I just ate a cookie? Could she see it in my pores? Turns out she could. According to Talib there are such things as sugar face, dairy face, gluten face, and wine face, and they’re not pretty.
Sugar face: Symptoms include lines and wrinkles on the forehead, sagging under the eyes, a gaunt look to the face, and painful pustular spots. You’ll also see skin start thinning and turn gray and pasty. “The problem is that sugar triggers a process called glycation, which is when excess glucose molecules attach themselves to collagen, making the normally springy, elastic fibres rigid and inflexible,” Talib writes in her book Reverse the Signs of Ageing (Random House). Basically, this makes for prematurely saggy, wrinkled skin.
Dairy face: Symptoms include swollen eyelids, undereye bags and dark circles, and small white spots and bumps on the chin. “Lactose in milk is one of the most common food intolerances,” Talib writes. If your body is having trouble digesting lactose, it could trigger a reaction similar to the “inflammatory process that causes redness, swelling, and heat around a sprained ankle.” Dairy can also affect your hormonal balance, which is a massive game changer for skin.
Gluten face: Symptoms include puffy red cheeks and dark patches or spots around the chin. Gluten, a protein found in things like wheat, “has been shown to increase the inflammatory response. This can leave the face looking bloated, inflamed, or swollen,” writes Talib. The cells responsible for producing pigment can be affected, leading to hyperpigmentation around the chin.
Wine face: Symptoms include lines or redness on the cheeks, reddish nose, and deep nasolabial folds. “These characteristics are distinctive of women who enjoy a glass or two on most nights of the week, but the truth is these aging characteristics can be triggered by any kind of alcohol,” Talib writes. Alcohol is dehydrating, which makes lines and wrinkles look more pronounced, and it’s also high in sugar (see above).
The illustrations are almost enough to make me want to give up a vice or two. Almost. For now I’ll probably stick with sun protection, a good antioxidant serum, and retinol. But the second the 11 lines between my eyes begin to look pronounced or I see the start of some wrinkles across my cheeks, I might consider cutting back on my nightly glass of Malbec.