Those with acne-prone skin know that you need to be super careful with the products that they use on their skin. While your skincare routine undoubtedly plays a role in the overall quality and appearance of your skin, dermatologists stress that your diet also can impact your breakouts. In fact, some say that it’s more important than using a fancy cleanser or spot treatment.
“A clear complexion isn’t just based on what you put on your face, but also what you put in your body,” Dr. Howard Sobel, a leading Cosmetic Dermatologist in NYC and owner of Sobel Skin, tells SHEfinds. “Food that is technically ‘healthy’ for your body isn’t always good for acne-prone skin. This is such a common mistake from clients thinking that they are eating ‘healthy,’ but still breaking out.”
Foods That Cause Acne
Keep scrolling to find out which foods Dr. Sobel and other dermatologists and health experts say are contributing to your breakouts by clogging your pores:
1. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, and rice have been processed, bleached, and stripped of their nutrients. “When your body has to produce tons of insulin because you ate tons of refined carbs (white flour, sugary foods etc.) then complex things happen with your hormones-including hormones that affect your pores,” says Cynthia Bailey, M.D., of Dr. Bailey Skin Care.
2. Food & Drinks Containing Dairy
“Dairy is one of the worst foods people with acne-prone skin can eat because it not only clogs pores, but also increase hormone levels,” explains Dr. Sobel. “You want to choose foods that neutralize the free radicals in your skin that cause acne, not inflame them.”
Dr. Purvisha Patel, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare, says that the hormones in milk can also cause your skin to produce extra oil, which then leads to more breakouts. "[It] can stimulate hormonal increases in sebum production, which can increase acne," she tells SheFinds.
3. Granola Bars With Whey Protein
Bars and drinks that are high in whey protein can cause outbreaks,” says Dr. Sobel. According to Women’s Health, some research suggests that whey protein causes a spike in sebum production which leads to clogged pores and acne.
Sweets and treats containing chocolate are high on the glycemic index, which increases insulin production and leads to acne. In chocolate, the combination of caffeine, theobromine, and serotonin spikes insulin production, according to DermNet NZ.
5. Greasy Foods
One of the biggest culprits of inflammation you’ll find in foods comes courtesy of saturated fat, which is what is lurking in your favorite fried and greasy foods. Saturated fat has been found to cause inflammation in the skin, which can spur your body to produce excess oil, according to the National Health Service. Saturated fat also raises your blood cholesterol levels and can increase your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
6. Artificial Fruit Juices
Annessa Chumley, a registered dietician and nutrition consultant to Premier Protein, says that those who drink artificial fruit juices regularly are prone to acne because of the drinks' high sugar content. “When juice is added [to smoothies], we are leaving out the most important part of the fruit: fiber,” she explains. “Nature’s way of giving us natural sugar or carbohydrates is in the perfect marriage of sugar and fiber. Eliminating the fiber wrecks that great marriage equation in my opinion!”