We have all heard the tales that junk food causes acne. We have also heard that such beliefs are unfounded and untrue. So…does junk food really cause acne?


The Wishy Washy Studies

Many respected dermatologists and medical professionals believe a link exists between specific food types and acne; however, thus far, it has been extraordinarily difficult to prove. The studies that have been conducted in recent years, such as a relatively recent publication by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggest that certain foods could very well contribute to the development of acne; however, they always end inconclusive. While many people are genetically predisposed to severe acne, others are not and scientists are still working to determine the reasons these individuals develop acne. This is not to say that these studies do not present evidence there could be a link, it is simply not yet proven without a doubt.


Potential Culprits

Two of the foods many scientists and medical professionals believe could be directly associated with acne is refined and processed carbohydrates and sugars. Essentially, foods that break down into sugars quickly such as refined grains and bread are more likely to contribute to breakouts. These foods contribute to significant increases in insulin levels that are believed to lead to clogged pores caused by an increase in the production of sebum. Food items that contain refined and processed carbohydrates and sugars include:


  • Breakfast Cereals with Refined Grains
  • Cakes
  • Candy
  • Cookies
  • Potato Chips
  • Pretzels
  • White Bread
  • White Pasta
  • White Rice


Possible Exacerbators

A possible surprise comes in the form of dairy. A number of studies have revealed a link between dairy products and breakouts. The reasons are not yet exactly clear, however the association is believed to be contributed to the fact that many dairy products are produced by pregnant cows with high hormone levels or by cows that are injected with the bovine growth hormone. It is believed that dairy products may trigger breakouts rather than cause them; therefore, this does not affect everyone the same way. Also, dairy is an inflammatory agent that can cause pimples to become more swollen and more red. The same is thought to be true of chocolate. In some people who already have existing acne issues, chocolate can trigger further breakouts. Again, this will not affect everyone.


Acne-Prevention Food Substitutes

Most respected medical professionals such as Dr. Oz believe with great certainty that food is directly linked to the condition of one’s skin. The following are a few ways to replace junk food that may, or may not, cause or exacerbate pimples:


  • Almond Milk
  • Baked Plantain Chips and Salsa Verde
  • Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • Banana Based Ice Cream
  • Carbonated Water with Fresh Fruit
  • Chickpea Cookie Dough
  • Frozen Grapes
  • Frozen Watermelon on a Stick
  • Guacamole and Bean Chips
  • No-Salt Added Nuts
  • Spiralized Zucchini or Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Unsweetened Dried Fruit


Hormones, insulin spikes, and inflammation are all widely believed to contribute to or exacerbate acne and breakouts. While the scientific data may not definitively prove such foods may be directly related, they are still widely accepted as real possibilities and foods to avoid for clearer skin. The general school of thought is the healthier you eat and if you follow a solid skincare routine, you should be able to reduce your acne as a minimum result.


The Gist: If you suffer from breakouts, you might just try eliminating or greatly reducing refined and processed carbohydrates and sugars, as well as dairy for a few months and see what happens. It might just be the miracle cure you seek. However, be sure to speak with your doctor before you begin!