Sugar in Skincare: the Sweetest Thing

You know the drill: regular exfoliation is good for your skin. It stimulates cellular renewal, unclogs pores, refines skin tone and texture, and increases the efficacy of skincare products like serums and anti-ageing creams. But in recent years there has been a global backlash against synthetic ingredients and plastic microbeads, which has seen a rising demand for natural exfoliating agents. When it comes to exfoliants that benefit your skin and the environment, one reigns supreme.

Image credit: nevodka

Image credit: nevodka

In Love with the Shape of You

Unlike salt, which forms into sharp, irregular shaped granules that can cause abrasions, micro tears and irritation, sugar naturally forms into smaller, softer granules with rounded edges that are gentle on skin. These granules buff the surface of the skin to remove toxins and impurities – think dead skin cells, oil build-up and environmental pollutants – from pores without causing damage. An added bonus: sugar begins to dissolve when it comes into contact with warm water, which makes the process of washing the scrub off very gentle.

Sugar Backed by Science

Incorporating sugar into face and body scrubs is about more than simple manual exfoliation. Most sugars are a natural source of glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that tackles blemishes, fine lines and pigmentation by breaking down the bonds that fuse dead skin cells, resulting in increased cellular renewal and a brighter, more even skin tone. Sugar is also a natural humectant, which means it draws moisture from the environment into the skin for deep and lasting hydration.

Let’s take a look at two sugars that have benefits far beyond sweetening.

How Sweet it is to Be Loved By the UN

Recognised by the UN as “the world’s most sustainable sweetener”, coconut sugar makes an excellent manual exfoliating agent. This eco-friendly sugar contains micronutrients including zinc and iron, which are known to promote skin health. It has a fine texture that makes it gentle enough for frequent use, yet effective at polishing away dead skin cells to reveal fresher, brighter, softer skin.

Rah-Rah for Rapadura

Rapadura sugar is rapidly gaining popularity for its health benefits – both for consumption and topical application. This unbleached, unrefined sugar undergoes minimal processing so it retains essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, iron and magnesium. With a similar soft and fine texture to brown sugar, but with added health benefits, rapadura sugar is well suited to exfoliating delicate skin including the face.

The Secret of Sugar Scrubs

The secret to scrubbing with sugar is twofold: quality and texture. Highly processed, refined and bleached sugars should be avoided as their natural vitamin and mineral content is destroyed during processing. The simple rule of thumb? Steer clear of white sugars and look for darker, unprocessed, naturally granulated sugars like coconut, rapadura, brown, raw, demerara, turbinado and muscovado sugar. Be mindful of the sugar’s texture in relation to your skin type. Opt for softer sugars like rapadura or muscovado for use on the face, sugars with a moderate texture like coconut and turbinado for the body, and coarser sugars like raw and demerara for dry and hardened skin.


At WØRKS melbourne we use certified organic sustainably sourced rapadura, coconut and raw sugars in our collection of KØBENHAVN organic coffee scrubs. These sugars are selected for their individual properties, health benefits, and suitability for various skin types and concerns.

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