Did you know milky lattes are behind dark rings under your eyes and the spots on your chin?
Or that your forehead wrinkles or spidery eyebrows are due to chocolate?
Skincare specialist Nigma Talib – who treats celebrities like Sienna Miller and make-up guru Charlotte Tilbury – is convinced food and drink has a direct and sometimes instant impact on our faces, resulting in noticeable symptoms she refers to as ‘dairy face’, ‘wine face’, ‘sugar face’ and ‘gluten face’.
Wine, gluten, dairy and sugar can cause adverse reactions to some people’s skin, like wrinkles
The second a patient walks into my clinic I can immediately tell the sort of foods they tend to over-eat just by checking the way their face is ageing,’ she says.
‘For some people, just one wheat-heavy day – cereal for breakfast, bread for lunch and pasta for dinner – is enough to cause bloating and puffiness
‘A couple of glasses of wine can trigger fine lines around the mouth and eyes, and – if you are intolerant – a creamy sauce or a piece of cheese might trigger a spotty break-out or dark circles under the eyes.’
Nigma is not the first one to do face mapping — that links parts of the face with specific organs of the body – just as reflexology does with the feet. Most modern skincare brands, such as Dermalogica, have adopted it as a part of their skin analysis program.
Varied substances can have varied effects on the face, like spots, swollen eyelids, & forehead wrinkles
Nigma believes that what you eat, and its effect on the health of your gut, is fundamental to the way your face ages.
‘Any problems with the digestion of certain foods – may be you have an unknown intolerance or you eat more of a food than you can comfortably digest – can trigger a cascade of chemical and hormonal changes that speed the ageing process internally and externally, with the results swiftly showing on your face,’ she says. ‘Certain food groups appear to be specially damaging: gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol. Each taxes the body in specific ways, contributing to a cluster of ageing symptoms such as spots, puffiness, changes in skin tone, premature fine lines and wrinkles or sagging.
‘But if you can identify your face problem, you can take steps to eliminate – or avoid as much as possible – the food or drink that is causing it and watch the years slip away.’
Here, Nigma shows you what to look out for – and what to do about it.
Wine face can have reddish cheeks and lines between the eyes, with deep nasolabial folds
Typical symptoms: Distinct lines or redness between the eyes, droopy eyelids, enlarged pores, dehydrated skin with feathery lines across cheeks, reddish cheeks and nose, deep nasolabial folds.
I call this ‘wine face’ since these traits are so distinctive of women who enjoy a glass or two on most nights of the week, but the fact is these ageing characteristics can be precipitated by any kind of alcohol.
Alcohol induced skin dehydration worsens the look of fine lines and wrinkles. The deeply ageing nasolabial lines, which run from nose to mouth, can lift and lighten as soon as you stop drinking and become re-hydrated.
Alcohol is high in sugar, that damages the protein collagen – vital for keeping skin elastic – causing enlarged pores and droopy eyelids.
As per face mapping, the space between the eyes is linked with the liver, and in my clinic I’ve noticed women whose livers struggle to process alcohol tend to have deep lines or redness between the brows
Alcohol hampers the action of the enzyme that the body utilizes to fight the skin-destroying inflammatory process. Thus, a couple of glasses of wine could be sufficient to allow the inflammatory process to take over, resulting in highly coloured cheeks and a red nose.
I recommend taking a short alcohol break (three weeks, to allow your gut to re-balance) then sticking with an 80/20 rule.
Abstain for 80 per cent of the time, but enjoy an odd glass in the other 20 per cent. Choose lower-sugar wines such as sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, merlot or pinot noir.
Sugar face tends to have wrinkles on the forehead and have a tendency towards spots
Typical symptoms: Lines and wrinkles on the forehead, sagging under the eyes, gaunt look to the face, painful pustular spots all over the face, thinning of the skin, a grey/pasty white hue to the skin.
If your diet is loaded with sugar & highly refined carbohydrates, like cakes, pastries and white rice, which quickly convert to sugar in the body, your skin is struggling to stay youthful.
The problem is that sugar triggers a process named glycation, which is when excess glucose molecules attach themselves to collagen, making the normally springy, elastic collagen fibers rigid and inflexible.
It causes the skin to sag and thin, and lines and wrinkles to become visible prematurely.
As per face mapping, the forehead is linked with the process of digestion, which is why ‘sugar face’ may manifest as blotches or wrinkles on the forehead.
Sugar is specially disruptive at the gut level. It disturbs the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut triggering pustular acne on the face, shoulders and chest.
However, one of the most curious signs of sugar addiction can be detected in your eyebrows. Insulin imbalance triggered by sugar highs and lows can put undue stress on the adrenal glands which, among other tasks, control eyebrow hair. Eyebrows that have become fine and thin could be a sign of adrenal exhaustion where the overworked glands (which control the stress hormones) start to under-perform.
Cutting back on sugar can have an immediate and lasting impact on your face. The best way to do that is by avoiding cakes, biscuits, fruit juices, refined carbohydrates and processed food.
Small white spots and bumps on the chin can denote dairy face
Typical symptoms: Swollen eyelids, bags and dark circles under eyes, small white spots and bumps on the chin.
Any one of these could mean that your body is struggling to digest milk and dairy products for instance cheese, yogurt and cream. Lactose in milk is one of the most common food intolerance.
Problems can develop in later life since we lose the enzymes that let us digest lactose efficiently.
The intolerance manifests as burping or mild nausea after drinking milk. However, sometimes your body could be struggling to digest the proteins in milk and you won’t have any symptoms.
This could be inducing your immune system to stimulate the release of inflammatory chemicals that have an impact on every part of your body, including your skin.
The same inflammatory process that stimulates redness, swelling and heat around a sprained ankle or splinter, for instance, can trigger puffy eyelids, under-eye bags and dark circles on your face.
If you suspect your facial ageing is dairy-related, I recommend a break from all forms of dairy products for three weeks – the impact on your face can be striking.
Being sensitive to gluten can imply that you develop dark pigmentation patches around your chin
Typical symptoms: Puffy red cheeks, dark pigmentation patches or spots around chin.
Many people are sensitive to gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. While relatively few suffer from coeliac disease (an auto-immune condition when gluten triggers the body to attack itself), the protein increases the inflammatory response. This can leave the face looking bloated, inflamed or swollen.
In turn, this affects cells responsible for producing pigmentation in the skin, leading to age spots and darker patches on the chin.
A reaction to gluten play havoc with the immune system, in turn disrupting the delicate balance of reproductive hormones, giving rise to spots or dark pigmentation on the chin, the area associated with the reproductive organs.
A few patients who have rosacea – a skin condition characterized by a red rash over the cheeks – have found it much improved, or entirely controlled, when they start eating gluten free diets.
Cut gluten out, drink more water and fiber and the puffiness will disperse, your skin tone will normalize and your cheekbones will reappear.