Going Vegan Could Introduce This Unexpected Problem For Your Skin, According To Experts

by Emma Madden
Jamie Grill Atlas/Stocksy

With the New Year comes a boat load of new trends across fashion, social media, and, of course, food. Each year it seems like more and more people are experimenting with veganism, most likely by committing themselves to Veganuary. You might have taken that veggie plunge yourself, but as with any diet or lifestyle change, it's worth doing some research beforehand to see how the change could impact your body. One such question is can going vegan cause acne? It might seem like a strange connection, but it's not actually all that unusual a query.

It's hard to tell whether all the horror stories attached to veganism are legit, or just made up as a way to make sure your family won't have to find a turkey alternative each Christmas. One concern you might want to consider before taking the plunge is how dramatically changing your diet might affect your skin.

While some say it can improve your skin, others testify otherwise. "The science between going vegetarian and having better skin isn’t as clear-cut as word-of-mouth stories may tell," Heathline writes, — so let's see what both sides have to say.

First up: the cons. When Insider asked dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali how going totally green would affect the skin, she said: "If you go vegan and are primarily eating simple carbohydrates, I think that the benefits of going vegan decrease," she said. "Having pasta with sweetened tomato sauce all day without any other beneficial vegan ingredients won't help much."

So, it's important to mix up the vegan diet — which, unfortunately, means expanding beyond eight packs of Oreos a day — so that break outs can be avoided. The Daily Mail said similar, as on Dec. 11, 2017 they claimed that going vegan might cause "stubborn breakouts," which they say is specifically the result of "a lack of protein."

There's also a transition phase to consider. Speaking via email, expert dermatologist Dr. Pam Benito tells me that "Breakouts and skin changes aren’t uncommon for people transitioning to a vegan diet. In addition to simply reacting to a sudden change in your diet, there are several reasons why you might see an increase in acne when first going plant-based." First, "As new vegans replace meat and eggs in their diet, they may choose soy as their main source of protein. While soy products are perfectly safe to eat despite some controversy, the phytoestrogens in soy products can alter the balance of hormones in the body and therefore cause breakouts."

She advises that "if you do get acne after cutting animal products out of your diet," then make sure to "give your body a few weeks to adjust to your new eating style, and you might see it clear it up on its own. However, if the issue is from food allergies, hormone imbalances, or a poor skin care routine, it may not simply go away on its own."

However, as long as you keep the fruit and veggies on lock, then simply deducting dairy from your diet should give your skin the glow it deserves. As Dr. Pam tells me, "deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals can negatively impact your skin; sometimes people forget to include fruits and veggies in their diets and end up seeing those poor dietary choices in their complexion."

There is some good news. In some of her patients who switch to veganism, Dr. Pam has noticed that "they have brighter complexion and better texture and also less bloating of the face." However, she attests, "a vegan diet may not necessarily hold the answer to clear skin."