Are You Eating Your Way to a Bad Complexion? Here's What Science Says About the Connection Between Your Food and Your Skin

Posted on January 27, 2016 by Erin McKelle

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I’m sure you’ve heard that what you eat has an effect on your complexion... and that it doesn’t. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there!

So what’s the deal, does food influence your skin or not? The short answer: yes, it does. The long answer? It’s a bit more complicated.

Science Points To Yes

What you eat does have an impact on your complexion, as one such example is a 2013 study of adult New Yorkers found that those who ate more dairy, sugar, and unhealthy fat were more likely to have moderate to severe acne than those who didn't.

Processed Foods Are Probably To Blame

How many processed carbs you eat probably have a lot to do with how clear your skin is. Health professor Loren Cordain conducted a study of 1,200 Papua New Guineans, where they found not one case of acne in those ages 15-25. In observing them, Cordain believes their healthy diet is the reason.

Through this research, she postulated that eating processed foods triggers a “hormonal cascade,” which results in your body producing more male growth hormones that result in oil production and pore clogging.

Major Organizations Are Still Hesitant To Point To Food

Despite the research that has shown a connection between diet and skin, large organizations like the American Academy of Dermatology still maintain the position that acne isn’t caused by diet. However, many believe certain foods cause acne, like chocolate and dairy products.

More Research Is Needed

In the end, we really need more research on this subject to be done before we can make any broad conclusions. Dermatologist Susan C. Taylor, MD, FAAD, told Skin Inc that we’re only now starting to understand food and acne’s relationship. “While there's no mistaking how our diet affects our overall health, we're just beginning to understand how certain foods—or lack thereof—can impact our skin's health,” said Dr. Taylor.

But, she advised that drinking enough water and eating healthy would probably help most people to manage their skin. “Eating a variety of healthy foods and drinking plenty of water so the skin stays hydrated should help most people improve the appearance of their skin.” So, even though more research is needed, eating healthy to take care of your skin is probably a good bet.


  • Erin McKelle is a feminist blogger and freelance writer whose work has appeared in Bustle, The Huffington Post, and Beautycon. @ErinMcKelle
  • About Us: Arithmetic is a new skincare company focused on helping adults achieve clear, healthy skin.
  • We make the cult-favorite Acne Control Complex spot treatment.

Posted in blemish control, breakouts, diet, health, healthy skin, hormonal acne, ingredients, lifestyle, research, strategies, toxins, treatnent plan, vegitarian, vitamin, ways to clear acne



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