Is the food you eat going to effect your acne?

I’ve always heard a lot about how your diet can increase the amount of or the severity of your acne or breakouts. Since it’s an idea that seems to have been around for a long time, I just assumed that it was true and that my dairy intake could be causing some of my pimples I got in high school. As someone who does breakout sometimes, I’ve recently started paying more attention to how I eat in relation to any time I get a pimple. I know it’s a pretty relevant topic in a lot of college student’s lives, so I decided to do a little bit of research into if our diet could be causing us pimples.


There’s some research (such as in this study) with results that suggest that high glycemic food products, which are food with lots of carbohydrates which increase your blood sugar levels, can increase your acne. The previously mentioned and linked study found that their study subject who ate more high glycemic foods were more often experiencing bad acne. The other big concern in this regard are dairy products. This study yielded results which pointed towards low-fat dairy products causing problems for people in the form of pimples. Dr. Daniel Aires from the University of Kansas Hospital said that this could be because of the growth hormones in milk, which could be becoming more concentrated as more fat is removed from it. This study says that your eating habits won’t cause your acne, but could make it more or less severe. However, many of the studies on this topic weren’t too great. Andrew emphasizes that we need to look at the quality of the studies that are out there. Many studies about the correlation between diet and acne have small sample sizes, control groups that aren’t very great, biases, and even results that are poorly reported.

Chart showing the levels of glycemic foods

Chart showing the levels of glycemic foods

In conclusion, it seems like it’s definitely a possibility that what you choose to eat could effect how bad your acne is. A normal person’s reaction to this depends on their level of concern in relation to their acne, but it’s not a bad idea to limit your intake of high glycemic foods and dairy, but don’t alter your whole life or freak out if you want to have an ice cream cone.



Photo sources:

Apple or doughnut

Glycemic food chart

4 thoughts on “Is the food you eat going to effect your acne?

  1. Sarah Tarczewski

    As someone with frequent breakouts, I’ve definitely tried to do exactly what you said in your conclusion. I’ve been told time and time again that foods, specifically dairy, effects my skin. Because of this, I’ve limited the amount of dairy I eat. Another – I guess the the term would be ‘urban legend’ – is that one’s intake of water effects their skin. Because of this, I also try to drink, a lot of water throughout my days. After reading this I wanted to make sure that is was actually a valid form of advice. I have linked below something that validates that water intake also effects breakouts.

  2. Arianna L Del Valle

    As a person who likes to take care of her skin, I’ve searched low and high for what foods to eliminate in order to improve health. I’ve read a lot about how dairy is bad for the skin and health, and celebrities endorsing dairy-free diets further validated that this was true. Anecdotal evidence, such as this one (, seems to be relatively common when researching this. I tried this myself, I haven’t drank milk since I was about 10 years old, so cutting out cheese, butter, ice cream, and other dairy products (as tasty as they are) wasn’t necessarily hard for me. I was convinced my skin would be flawless as soon as I cut out these foods, but that wasn’t the case. After about 3 months of being dairy-free, my skin stayed the same. Maybe these results happened because I didn’t do the experiment for a long time, or maybe my skin was good enough already. This led me to wonder if these claims were actually true. Is there scientific evidence that dairy worsens acne, or is this due to chance or third variables? Made me reflect a lot on my experience, nice post!

  3. Patrick Winch

    Katherine- I have had experiences that mirror your research. When I was in high school, I asked my doctor about basic acne and what causes it. One of the things she mentioned specifically was broccoli, which surprised me. Looking back on it, and after doing some quick research, I’m pretty convinced that he was not right in making that claim. The article attached talks specifically about peas and corn, and it concludes by saying that no food directly causes acne.

  4. Brett Alan Merritt

    In high school, I also heard that acne is caused by the food you eat, but my dermatologist said that is simply not true. This study is interesting because I always heard that it was junk food that would cause acne, not dairy products. Do you think junk food causes acne as well?

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