7 Foods That Can Trigger Acne
Photo by Levi Brown/Trunk Archive
Acne is a complex issue—there’s no single cause of breakouts, and what triggers a pimple in one person might be benign to another. With that said, if topical treatments haven’t made a difference, it may be time to change what you eat. More doctors and estheticians than ever believe in a diet-acne connection, and some common foods are now believed to be breakout triggers. Here, 7 foods that can make acne worse. (On the bright side, chocolate is not on the list.)
Bad news, dairy queens: milk actually doesn’t do a complexion good. Because of recent research on diet and acne, the American Academy of Dermatology now says there may be a link between milk consumption and breakouts.
Blame the hormones in dairy, says Dr. Frank Lipman, an integrative and functional medicine physician and the founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. “Dairy causes spikes in certain pimple-producing hormones,” he explains. “I encourage patients to have almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, or hemp milk instead of cow’s milk.”
As if we needed another reason to give up the white stuff. “Sugar can absolutely cause breakouts, because it’s pro-inflammatory,” Lipman confirms. “Acne is considered an inflammatory condition, and someone with acne-prone skin should follow an anti-inflammatory diet.”
That doesn’t mean you have to give up sweetness for good, though. Lipman recommends eating fruit (not fruit juice) and, if you must have sweetener, choose small amounts of stevia, raw honey, or maple syrup.
If you break out around the mouth and along your jawline, tofu and other soy foods could be to blame. And it’s all due to the natural plant estrogens found in soybeans. “Phytoestrogens mimic natural estrogen levels, and that throws off our hormones,” says esthetician Kimberly Yap Tan, founder of Skin Salvation, an acne clinic in San Francisco. Soy derivatives show up in everything from veggie burgers to energy bars, so read labels carefully.