Can Your Diet Give You Clear Skin?

Can Your Diet Give You Clear Skin?

The relationship between acne and diet is one that has been the topic of discussion between nutritionists, dermatologists and skincare experts for many years. Can your diet give you clear skin? Unfortunately no clear answer has been reached, but I’m going to talk through the different foods that are believed might have an impact on acne so you can work out what is best to help your skin.

Diet and Acne

Why is it all so unclear? Individuals tend to have very different responses to external triggers like diet. There are also lots of factors that can contribute to acne, such as hormonal levels and the products you are using on your face. This is why a direct link between a particular food and acne is very difficult to confirm.

What may affect one person’s skin may not have any issues for the next.

There are however, certain food groups that have come under the firing line for quite some time, with lots of debate over whether they do or don’t cause acne. So I am going to be explaining these in a little more detail so you can figure out what works for you and your skin.

Should You Trust the Claims?

As I have said, each case is individual and your diet may or may not have an influence on worsening of your acne.

We would never advocate excluding an entire food group from your diet without taking medical advice. A wide and varied diet is the best way for you to take in all the essential vitamins, minerals and proteins that your body needs to be healthy.

The best approach is to maintain a healthy diet and to keep an eye out for whether any particular foods are a trigger for you. If you do feel that a food is causing you issues, speak to your Doctor and work out a healthy plan.

So, which are the food groups that could potentially have an impact on acne and why?

  1. Dairy

    The claim – Milk has a lot of hormones that can cause acne.

    The science – There is some evidence that one of the natural hormones in milk, known as IGF-1, also stimulates the production of sebum, or oil. As too much oil can be a contributor of blemishes, this is where the claim has come from.

    Another theory is that this hormone is related to the stimulation of skin cell production and can mean that dead skin cells can build up in the pores and lead to the formation of whiteheads, further causing breakouts and acne.

  2. High Glycaemic Index Foods

    The claim – Foods with a high Glycaemic Index (GI) like sugars, white bread, rice and potatoes can cause acne.

    The science – High GI foods are those that are quickly broken up by your body and therefore see a rapid increase in Insulin levels. Once again, the theories on the impact of this relate to the hormone IGF-1; for some people the high glucose and Insulin can raise the IGF-1 levels and again cause increased sebum and cell production.

    Insulin is also believed to cause an increase in Androgen levels, the male hormone. This has been associated with stimulating Sebum production and therefore may play a part in making acne symptoms worse.

  3. Chocolate

    The claim – Eating chocolate will give you spots.

    The science – Cacao is the purest form of chocolate available. It is raw and not as processed as Cocoa. Up to this date there are no studies that can suggest that Cacao has an influence on acne.

    However, milk chocolate has been discussed for several decades with no definitive answer. It has been concluded that it may actually be the addition of milk, sugars and other ingredients that may be responsible for the correlation with acne, rather than Cacao itself.

  4. Lack of Omega-3 fats

    The claim – A lack of Omega-3 fats in our diet can lead to the worsening of acne.

    The science – Omega-3 fats, which are commonly found in cold-water fish and fish oils as well as chia and flax seeds, are not made naturally in our bodies and many of us might lack them in our diets.

    It has been suggested that Omega-3 fats (especially long-chained ones called EPA and DHA found in fish) actually play a vital role in the regulation of Inflammatory Cytokins, which, when not regulated can cause redness and swelling on spots. EPA is also known for its anti-bacterial properties.

    So, Omega-3 fats may help reduce the likelihood of inflammation and decrease the levels of bacterial growth associated with acne.

Remember, none of these foods can cause acne alone. They may act as triggers to increase your symptoms, but there are also lots of other contributory factors for acne, and cutting out an food or food group may not have a positive effect on your health.

If you have any further questions in regards to diet or would like more information about managing acne then feel free to email me on



Resident Pharmacist

With a Masters in Pharmacy, I am here to explain the science behind the beauty. I offer expert advice on ingredients, the latest Skincare trends, lifestyle choices and any skin concerns you may have. I enjoy travelling and taking part in running events like Tough Mudder and the Colour Run. Currently loving: La Roche Posay Eau Thermal