How your diet can cause acne - what to eat and what to avoid

Kim Easton Smith
21 February 2013

Acne outbreaks can be caused or worsened by your diet, particularly diary and sugar.

A 50-year-long study has linked these foods and others to spot outbreaks, adding weight to the idea that what you eat shows on your skin. We asked an expert what foods to eat and avoid for perfect skin.

You might hope to leave acne behind after your teens but increasing numbers of women in their 20s and 30s are suffering from the spotty skin condition.

Stress has been put forward as a reason for this increase, as have unhealthy modern diets.

[Related: Hollywood skin doctor reveals star secrets]

The way your skin reacts to food can be very individual so keeping an eye on your personal triggers is important. But there are some foods types that have been identified as problematic, and you might find cutting them out could help your skin recover.

Danielle Gill, a ProSkin skin expert gave her us top diet tips for skin:

"If you eat too much of any one thing, chances are high it will show in your skin.

"One interesting observation is that acne is more prominent within western societies that follow diets high in sugar and refined grain products.

"Societies that follow a more caveman type of diet consisting of meat, vegetables, whole grains and next to no refined or packaged foods don’t tend to have a problem with spots."


  • Sugary foods
  • Processed foods
  • Dairy
  • Spices such as cayenne pepper and chilli
  • High caffeine food and drink such as coffee, coca cola and chocolate. Caffeine can alter your hormone balance and stresses the body and skin

[Related: Caring for your skin at every age]

Eat more:

  • Fruit and vegetables with high water content to flush out pore-clogging toxins and rehydrate your skin
  • Cucumber, melon and lettuce are all skin saviours
  • Orange veggies such as carrots and sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A, which helps detox your skin
  • Oily fish with those essential fatty acids helps reduce inflammation and is also packed with zinc, which helps reduce the production of acne-causing sebum
  • Green tea - swap any other caffeinated beverage for this as it's super skin friend thanks to an impressive storehouse of polyphenols. Try and drink four cups a day to see the benefits
  • Also make sure you're drinking plenty of water to hydrate and flush out the skin

She added that while a good diet is vital in the fight against acne, good skincare is just as important. Make sure you cleanse and moisturise your skin properly, don't sleep in your makeup (ever) and seek help from an expert if you can't get your acne under control.

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