5 Foods You Should Avoid If You Want Less Breakouts and Clearer Skin

You may think that once you have passed your hormonal teenage years, you’re done with acne forever. Unfortunately, dermatologists have found that acne is still the most common skin problem at any age. Even people who have the best skincare habits get pesky pimples that just won’t go away.

Treating the problem from the outside is one way to go, but another place to start looking to combat breakouts is from what you are consuming on the inside.

“When trying to control acne breakouts and heal your skin, you have to start looking at your habits and your diet in order to better understand the entire picture,” says Arleen K. Lamba, MD, CEO of Blush Med Skincare. “Though not everyone can blame their breakouts on just diet, it may play a role for some individuals.”

While certain foods can help give you better skin, other foods can actually make your breakouts worse. To help you get the clearest and most radiant skin you deserve, we have come up with a list of five types of foods to generally avoid if you want to prevent breakouts.

Refined Carbohydrates

“I advise my patients to be aware of foods that have a high glycemic index such as white bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes,” says Dr. Soheil Simzar, dermatologist at Ava MD. “These foods have been shown to be associated with hormonal acne.” Keeping your blood sugar steady will help control spikes in the hormone insulin, which can cause acne, and always try to eat whole grains whenever possible.

Alcohol

“Not only can overconsumption of alcohol lead to a bad hangover, but it can also lead to a bad breakout,” says Dr. Lamba. “When you consume alcohol, your heat index rises, and you actually get warmer and sweat more. This increased sweating leads to clogged pores and acne breakouts.” Alcohol also dehydrates the skin, making it appear less vibrant and full the next day. Stick to clear drinks over sugary cocktails, which can make your skin worse.

Fried and Fatty Foods

Those french fries may taste good, but they sure won’t make your skin happy. “Fatty and fried foods should be avoided because they can result in sluggish digestion and blemishes,” says Dr. Matthew Brennecke, MS, ND. When your body’s digestion is slowed, this makes it more difficult for your body to clear itself of wasteful products. While good fats such as nuts, avocado, and flaxseed are healthy for your skin, avoid greasy fast food made in processed oils and filled with chemicals and salt. 

Chocolate

Studies have found a relationship between consumption of chocolate and breakouts. “Chocolate enrages existing acne in those that have acne-prone skin but it has not been shown to cause acne,” says Dr. Lamba. The caffeine in chocolate may be to blame, but many chocolate bars contain high amounts of sugar and dairy, which can also cause breakouts. If you’re going to indulge in the dessert, try to opt for darker varieties that contain low amounts of sugar.

Dairy Products

“Milk contains substances that your body converts to testosterone, a hormone that affects your pores, causing oil production and acne,” says board-certified Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey. Skim milk has been found to be worse for acne, likely because its sugar component is much higher than the protein component. “Switch from fatty dairy products like ice cream and cheese to a moderate amount of whole milk dairy products,” suggest Dr. Bailey. The best source of dairy to eat is yogurt or kefir, which contain natural probiotics.