Acne causing foods

Foods that Cause Acne

Which of the following are acne causing foods?

  • French fries
  • Chocolate
  • Ice cream
  • Sugar
  • Broccoli

The correct answer: none of the above. (Sorry, broccoli haters.)

Many people believe that specific foods are acne causing foods and that eating these foods leads to acne flare-ups. It's one of the more common myths about what causes acne.

Let's Get Real

There are many myths surrounding what foods cause acne. Even physicians used to believe that eating chocolate and fatty foods caused or aggravated it-until studies proved them wrong.

Food for Thought

The United States, for example, has a fattier diet than many other countries, so researchers speculated that fat-laden foods were responsible for a greater incidence of acne.

Not true.

"It is not due to any foods that you eat," says Dr. Ditre. "There is good science that shows that the tendency for acne may be inherited, or is due to hormonal changes and bacteria, as well as dry skin cells plugging the pores and causing a buildup of oil and debris in the skin. Your dermatologist is the best person who can help you understand the causes of your acne, as well as the correct treatment for it."

"Acne is not caused by diet, dirt or surface oil," adds Cammie Cannella of Kiehl's. "Oily foods have nothing to do with the oil on one's skin. Oil on the skin is manufactured locally in the oil glands, no matter what an individual may eat."

Nonetheless, some people continue to believe their acne will worsen if they consume acne causing foods, such as junk food and sugary soft drinks. While their waistlines may expand, their skin will remain relatively neutral!

"There also was some question about cheese and milk products (being acne causing foods)," Dr. Ditre says, "but there have been studies that have shown this to be untrue." There is little evidence to associate diet with acne.


Another myth is that exposure to sunlight will improve your acne. Don't start sunbathing to clear up your skin! No studies support ultraviolet light's ability to improve acne. In fact, it can worsen the condition.

Down and Dirty

Many believe poor hygiene causes acne. But think about this: If people did not bathe, acne would not be limited to the face!

According to Lydia Preston, a former staff editor at Time-Life Books, and author of Breaking Out (Fireside Books, 2004), we still tend to harbor the belief that acne is related to a lack of cleanliness. She writes: "Human beings seem to have a strong atavistic notion that skin disease is a mark of uncleanliness, some primitive sense that flawed skin is dirty skin. In acne, the appearance of blackheads-which can look very much like flecks of grime-only reinforces the conviction that external agents such as dirt or too much makeup bring on breakouts."

This stigma runs so deep that women refuse to even talk about their acne, even though every magazine targeted toward women focuses on skin care at least once a month, if not more. According to Dr. Patricia Wexler (see Chapter 1), patients often come to her office in tears, refusing to look her in the eye and staring at the floor. They cover their faces with hair and bangs, over-apply makeup and do anything they can to hide their faces.

Men and women are so embarrassed by their acne that they can be in therapy or counseling for years, dealing with a variety of difficult and sensitive problems, and never once mention how humiliated they feel when their skin breaks out. It's simply not talked about. They fear they will be judged by others and written off as "dirty." As you will learn in the chapters that follow, nothing could be further from the truth.


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