Is Your Diet Causing Your Acne?


Acne Intelligence

SkinClinical AI, LLC

May, 2020

Dairy, sugar, fatty foods – according to some, these are the main culprits when it comes to blemish-prone skin. Acne sufferers are often told that if they stop eating these things, their skin would transform practically overnight. Is that true? Is your diet causing your acne? 


Search the internet, and you’ll find plenty of stories about how someone’s dairy-free diet banished breakouts for good. Influencers, bloggers, and even some estheticians argue that hormones in milk increase sebum production in humans, causing or worsening acne.

Scientific evidence for this claim is fairly inconclusive. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that drinking a glass or more of milk every day slightly increased the likelihood that patients would experience acne. However, other dairy products like yogurt and cheese had almost no correlation with breakouts.

Takeaway: There is no conclusive evidence that eliminating dairy from your diet will give you clearer skin. If you still feel strongly about going dairy-free, research indicates that eliminating skim or low-fat milk would be most likely to produce results.

Greasy Foods

Dermatologists and nutritionists agree – when it comes to greasy food, moderation is best. While it’s true that over-indulging in fatty, fried foods is by no means good for your body, evidence that those foods cause acne is slim to none. Unless you’re rubbing your face in your hamburger meal, greasy foods probably aren’t contributing to your breakouts.

Takeaway: Doctors agree that this one’s a bust. Prioritize taking care of your body and fueling it with a healthy, well-balanced diet, but don’t worry about a sudden onslaught of pimples if you order a side of fries. 


Of all the information surrounding diet and acne, research about sugar is most conclusive. Many of the foods that people correlate with acne (think potato chips, pizza, and chocolate) may contribute to breakouts not because they are greasy or full of dairy, but because they are actually high-glycemic foods.

Foods with a high glycemic index cause glucose levels in the blood to rise especially quickly. That spike in blood sugar sets in motion a hormonal reaction that increases sebum production and creates an environment more conducive to acne.

Takeaway: Consume sugary foods in moderation. When you do feel like indulging, make them part of a well-balanced meal if you can. Eating protein, fiber, and healthy fats in combination with foods that have a higher glycemic index can help slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all cure for acne, especially when it comes to your diet. Currently, the American Academy of Dermatology doesn’t recognize any diet changes as being effective in the management of acne.

Skin care professionals agree that maintaining a skin care routine with quality acne-fighting ingredients is the best and most effective way to manage acne. That’s where Acne Intelligence comes in. Our formulations are custom-curated by industry-renowned skin specialists.

Get access to the best in skin care from the comfort of your home with the Acne Intelligence app. Your free consultation and personalized skin care plan await!

Scroll to Top