Does Junk Food Give You Acne?

does junk food cause acne? This is one of those beauty-things where experts have conflicting ideas about it – one minute it’s “yes”; the next minute it’s “no”.

However, I believe that at the end of the day, you know your own body, and as far as junk food giving you acne… I believe it really depends on the person, and their skin type.

(That being said, Do You Really Know Your Skin Type?)

So, does junk food cause acne? 

First, we need to look at the cause of acne in general. Is it caused by food? Personally, I believe it’s definitely one of the factors. The others are hormones (the biggest factor), hereditary, dirt, and hygiene.

My thought is this: if you already suffer from acne and have a predisposition for it (genetics, bad luck, etc), junk food, I believe, will definitely affect your skin. Plus, junk food itself is so bad for your body, why wouldn’t it cause a “reaction” like acne on your face?

For example, I struggled with acne as a teen, and still get zits now and again, especially if I overdo it with eating greasy burgers, fries, chips, candy. It’s fine in small amounts, but one week of a bad diet? Guarantee monster zits.

What about dairy?

I’m not a fan and wouldn’t recommend it if you tend to break out. Dairy is pretty inflammatory (one of the reason why, whenever someone asks me for acne help, I tell them stop eating dairy) and full of cow hormones, so it makes sense. Personally, if I eat a lot of dairy (I barely do, just a bit of chocolate now and again), I see it in my skin. See if it works for you – you can try stopping dairy intake for a week or two, and see if your skin clears up. I reckon it will!

What the doctors say…

WebMD puts it best: “Studies show dairy products and high glycemic foods, however, can trigger acne.” I think that says it all, and as always, listen to the professionals!

Bottom Line

Still, I don’t think it’s all that bad, and it also depends largely on you. For me, I think I’m in between – I can eat “bad” once in a while with no worries, but if it’s ongoing, my skin will definitely show it. Same with my other friends who has acne prone skin – she can’t have any junk food or even chocolate without breaking out. But for my friends who have naturally clear skin, they can eat whatever they like and their face is still fine.

So the answer is yes and no – but it all depends on your acne situation already: Junk food will probably cause acne if you are already have a history with acne; but if not, you’re probably fine. (It’s not that healthy though, so I’d encourage you to keep the junk food very minimal!)

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46 comments

  1. I think it’s more hormonal then anything. Certain times of the month i’m more inclined to eat junk food, and other times I’m not. Or you touch your face after a junk food fest and that causes it :/

    1. Oh yeah. And always wash your hands after a good feast 😛 Or avoid touching your face, can only imagine how oily our hands can get!

  2. Well, I do enjoy little “treats” once in a while, or I have a nibble of something sweet here and there, but I try not to overdo it! lol I try to eat “clean”, and fresh foods, so not processed, plus I drink a lot of water and I think it nourishes me from the inside out! If I don’t eat well for a while, it just shows all over, as I feel sluggish, and I’m not as peppy and it shows in my skin : But when I eat well, I feel better and feel like I LOOK better…who doesn’t want that?! 😉

    1. Proof that you should just eat healthy and live a healthy life to feel great! 🙂 Everything in moderation though, sweet stuff is still allowed! I totally agree though, there was this phase where all I ate was nasty greasy stuff and honestly, my mood/skin/physical body was always so dull and nasty. 🙁 But then I went back to healthy food and started feeling myself again. 🙂

      1. Yeah, totally! When I don’t eat that much junk, I find my cravings for it become really small, or even nonexistent, too ^^ which is always nice! lol
        Battling between your willpower and cravings is not fun! xD

  3. I forgot to tell u!!! My morrocanoil hydrating mask arrived this week and I tried on friday!!!
    So, when I first opened it up the smell was too overwhelming, too strong, I hated it.
    Then I washed my hair with a shampoo (i dont know the name in english, it´s that shampoo people wear once a week to clean out the residues out of ur hair…). Then I applied the mask, and the smell was fine. I picked up a full spoon of the product, and then I realized it was too much, but I applied. Then I put my old lady cap (those u plug in and it star heating and heating u know…) i stayed 20minutes then I washed out. Then I applied the morrocanoil curl cream and finally I did a blow out! And Oh Gosh, my hair looked so softttttttttttttt and shiny!! It looks shine and soft till now (and it´s already sunday afternoon, 2:00)!! It feels great, the smell it´s nice too =)))! I highly recomend it!! Now i wanna buy everything….
    The products are pretty expensive, in my opinion, but it´s definetly worth the money because it´s a very concentrated product, u will only have to use a tiny little bit each time!It´s gonna last me forever ever… People say u will see the results after the third application, but i can already see that my hair it´s much more soft and shiny!
    If u try it let me know!!!I already aproved it!!=)
    xo

    1. Hey Deborah! 🙂 I’m great thanks, how are you?

      Yeah, the birth control pill definitely worked, huh? My friend went on Accutane for 6 months and his acne was completely gone, and one of my friends recently went on the pill and her acne has cleared up so much too. Hmm… makes me want to go on the pill, haha! Have you tried Retin A? It has also changed my skin so much, it makes it GLOW and I too have some acne.

      Glad to hear about the Moroccan oil worked so well for you! I will have to hunt it down here, I have seen so many blogs and good reviews on it… but I have to say, I am more interested in your “old lady cap” that can be plugged in. I WANT ONE!!! 😀 😀 😀 Hahaha, we don’t have them here and I can imagine it’s so good for deep conditioning for the hair!

      OK I will try to find Morrocan oil… you should try coconut oil as well, really works. I think maybe oils are really the best for hair, no chemicals and other junk that they put in other conditioners… 🙂

      1. Hii dear Im fine, tks!! =)
        hahaha Yeah, i say old lady because it has a tacky print of flowers haha. It acutally belonged to my aunt, and since I found it I´ve never stop using it. I was, like 9 yrs old when I found it!!! And that´s basically the reason I dont go to often to the salon, because the cap improves the results of any product u know, it´s just the best way to contidioning! Have u never seen one??? Try to look out online, on ebay!!!

        Ok, try to find moroccanoil, a girl sent to me from US but it was expensive, but then i found it so much cheaper on ebay, and I´ve seen so many people who bought it from there, it´s more much worth it.
        I found coconut oil on ebay (guess now im a little addicted to ebay since my credit card arrived it)!!!!!! I want to buy it soon, because I love coconut smell, I have everything from coconut line from The body shop u know!?!I loveee the smell….
        I found it out that is something more commom in Asia! Bc here i could never find it!
        This seller is actually from Thailand!
        http://cgi.ebay.com/Natural-cold-pressed-Virgin-COCONUT-Oil-Skin-Hair-/140406459630?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20b0e08cee
        Do u know this product?
        xo =)

  4. I definitely feel better overall if what I’m eating is healthier and fresh in comparison to junk food. I’m not sure how much it affects my skin, which seems to break out, more then anything else, from stress or from just not removing my make up (which I’m guilty of more then I’d probably like to think about) . But I guess when I’m stressed, that’s when junk food is more likely to appeal to me. I think it really depends on the person and that usually it’s a combination of things and that somethings irritate our skin more then others for each of us.

    1. I agree, when we’re stressed and not feeling too great we tend to snack on disgusting things like junk food! I also have to agree that it must be an individual thing, which is weird then how doctors are claiming two different things… couldn’t they just say it’s up to your genes, instead of confusing us?! Haha.

      Oh and I’m sorry to sound like your mother but you HAVE to remove all makeup before you sleep, that’s the #1 makeup rule!! 🙂

  5. Diet definitely plays a part, but you know what moreso? Water. I rarely break out, but when I do, it’s always when I haven’t had enough water. So if you drink enough water each day, it’ll flush your system out and voila, clear skin!

    1. I’m glad you mentioned that Jeanne, because I actually work a post on how scientists recently showed that water and skin have no link and that the whole “8 cups a day” is a complete myth. And yet it works for you! Kinda like this myth about junk food not affecting your skin… so I think anything to do with someone’s skin really is all about their genes and what works for them.

      You’re really lucky though, water is all it takes for you to have clear skin! 🙂

  6. Hiii Renee!!How r u?
    I love junk food but I also hate it! First bc im not skinny at all, and second because in the past I had a HUGE acne problem, thank god i went to the doctor and find out that was hormonal,and since then (i was 16) my skin has been just fine =) I used to have these HUGE pimples on my cheeks,can u believe it?! But junk food, for me has such an impact more on my body now, but my skin gets VERY oily when if I start eating a lot of chocolate, potatoes chips,cheese… u know,so I can eat too often… But yeah, that´s a great topic. My skin would definetly look horrible if i wasnt taking birth control and eating junkiesss!

  7. I think that people saying food has no link to skin, are the happy people blessed with good genes, who can pig out on junk food all they want, without consequences 😛 But seriously, lets take milk for example – it has cow hormones, that in human body stimulate the oil glands in skin – for many people this produces no problems, while for some it creates major breakouts!

    1. Totally, and those people like to flaunt it in our faces, haha! 🙂 They’re really lucky though. And I agree about milk – I’ve heard a lot about the link between dairy and acne, although I can’t really comment as I’m lactose intolerant and haven’t had milk since I was a baby 😛

  8. Hi Renee! Long time lurker, first time commenting- I actually agree, to some extent.

    I say this only because I am a strict vegetarian- I eat no meat (obviously), fish, and very little dairy or egg products- and when I do have dairy, my skin tends to get more “blotchy.” Maybe that is because I eat so little of it to begin with, that when I do, my body processes it differently? Who knows!

    In any case, if diet is so important to well-being, why wouldn’t it also have some impact on your skin? Perhaps it won’t make you break out, but I do know that people who eat junk food constantly tend to have a weird, sallow undertone. My stepsister, for example, is a “vegetarian” who lives off of potato chips, macaroni and cheese and ice cream, and her face just looks so… dull… all the time. She’s really pretty. Her skin itself just looks “blah.”

    Yeah, just some personal observations.

    1. Welcome, Mollie! Nice to meet you 🙂

      Yup, like I mentioned in the comment above, dairy and acne seems to have a link! It seems to ring true for you, at least! 🙂 How weird that you mention you are vegetarian because just this week I am slowly trying to become one, haha.

      And I agree on the sallow skin comment. Diet does play a huge part to the overall health of the skin – bad diets and heavy drinking and smoking can make the skin look awful, acne or not. Normally sallow skin, yellow tinges, wrinkles, come with that kind of lifestyle :S Makes me def believe that bad eating habits cause acne, yet some docs say eat up, it doesn’t affect our skin at all!

  9. Hey Renee! I think that this is a great topic to write about!
    Being a teen acne is a big issue for me, both of my parents had pretty bad acne so partially I do think that genetics play a factor.
    However I do find that when I’m not eating as healthy that my breakouts are worse.
    I’m not sure, but I feel that changes in environment can also play a major factor.
    I know that so much of our foods contain so much processed chemicals and I do think that can put our hormones out of whack. I also know that other environmental factors that effect me are stress levels (I always breakout around exams), amount of sleep and, surprisingly, location.
    I come from a Chinese background and so I often visit Asia(especially China) and when I’m over there my acne always heals up a bit. I live in Australia and the climate is pretty dry and harsh over here.
    A year ago I was in Singapore during the summer and it was so humid but the extra moisture in the air really cleared up my skin. I was only there for 4 days but by acne cleared up pretty much entirely.
    I don’t know maybe it’s just me. 🙂

    1. Ah yes, definitely a genetic thing. My dad has perfect skin and my mom suffered from acne and I get… acne. My mom has bad eyesight and my dad has perfect and I get… bad eyesight. Haha, I’m unlucky!

      Yes, I think our lifestyle def shows in our face – whether we are stressed, if we’re not getting enough sleep, etc. You are really lucky to have had clear skin in the hot summer months, though, ’cause usually the heat produces more sebum in people, resulting in “summer acne” as I heard it’s called. You’re lucky or it to have an opposite effect! 😀 But I can imagine the climate in Aus, how it’s really dry. Load up on moisturizer and water, does that help?

  10. thoughtful post, Renee. It’s all down to one word it seems, blood sugar levels. Hey, maybe we can collaborate on a follow post? I’d love to read one in your perspective. This could be interesting!

  11. i suppose other than hormones, how your body processes the food is another important aspect..according to traditional chinese medicine..different parts of the face reflects the different internal organs…What I was told is that, if the pimple outbreak is on the cheeks, it has something to do with the digestion system and can be caused by high acidity in the food intake…

    1. Haha, I know about that! The face chart and what part of your body is in trouble. Maybe I should do a post on that? I once was going to but I’m not sure how much I believed it myself and what kind of response it would get! Not dissing Chinese medicine, of course, (I’m half Chinese!) but a lot of it is kinda scary. My friend’s dad went to a Chinese doc and the man asked him to drink something with a dead snake in it… AHHH!! Haha. I should do a post on it though, could be fun?

      1. you should…to some extend it applies to me…once i stopped drinking lime juice and substitute it with Vitagen(!), the pimples on my cheek cleared up…

        1. Oh yeah I stopped all citrus drinks ’cause I get major migraines. 🙁 I LOVE Vitagen but unfortunately I’m a little lactose intolerant so I get major stomach issues after drinking it now, haha! I know, my diet is so sad, I can hardly take anything! 😛 Especially now since I’ve decided to become vegetarian, haha. I should probably just eat apples all day… XD

  12. Personally, it really depends on your genes and your skin type..
    Me and my brother we eat the same junk but he breaks out in pimples and I don’t.
    Eating good nourishing food, drinking enough water and exercising makes your skin glow and look healthier but for me it doesn’t make a difference as to whether I get pimples or not. Though I may never had gotten a pimple before I have the problem of dry skin which can be really annoying sometimes so I try to drink as much water as possible. Bottom line, you should understand your body and skin and find out what works and what doesn’t and try to achieve good skin from there.

    1. Aw, lucky you! Yep, I think it depends, you are really lucky! I find that having dry skin type is the easiest of all – just load up on moisturizer and your skin should settle! 🙂

  13. i do think that food plays a huge part in our skin! plus sleeping habits too..i myself suffers from acne and i find that cutting down in oily stuffs helps in preventing acne..i have friends that could down tons of greasy food without having a teeny acne hence i think it also depends on the genes..but i*envy them!!*

    1. I can imagine! Yup, greasy, oily, fried stuff is rally bad for those who suffer from acne. Although I believe you should live life and have some of it if you like that kinda food, just everything in moderation! Also a good cleanser and pimple cream works for those nights of pigging out 😛

  14. I’m very suspicious of the “logic” that says if you eat oily/greasy food it will make your skin oily/greasy- it just seems a little too intuitive to be real! And one of the best foods for good skin is oily fish because it has lots of Omega-3 and -6. Dairy products are meant to be good because of the Vitamin A in them.

    I think it’s probably a psychological thing- we all know we should eat healthily, so when we get a breakout we don’t think of all the salads we’ve had in the last two weeks, we immediately think of the burger we’re already feeling guilty about. And if you don’t eat as healthily you generally feel worse about yourself and look for any flaw you can find, so you probably notice the acne more. When you make an effort and eat healthily though, you can feel really great and not notice them as much.

    I’ve had pretty atrocious skin in the past, huge zits on my cheeks as well as on the T-zone of my face, and for me it’s definitely hormonal. I was on a pretty strong combined pill for six years or so and only ever got small breakouts at the time of the month- heaven! Whereas now I’m eating as healthily as I have done for years, and still get pretty bad breakouts.

    Bottom line is that you should eat healthily anyway, because you’ll feel better and the acne won’t seem like such a big problem. I think doctors always tell their patients to eat better no matter what the problem is, on the basis that it won’t do any harm!

    1. True, eating healthy is better anyway. 😀 As far as acne, it could be a psychological thing, a well as a hormonal, genetic, and physical thing. I think it’s a mix of everything. When you’re stressed (physiological) you tend to break out. When you eat crap (physical), tends to break out… and we can blame mom and dad if we have acne, ’cause it’s genetic too I heard. So yeah, think it’s everything, really!

      Have you tried Retin A for your acne? It works wonders.

  15. I think it’s a combination. When I was a teenager up until my early 20s I had terrible acne (I still have the scars). I used to eat really healthily (nothing but salad) and drink about 8 pints of water a day and I’d still have the problem. It wasn’t until a course of Roaccutane and going on the pill that it finally calmed down.

    Now I’m in my late 20s and my skin is much better, but I do find if I’ve had a heavy drinking session and been eating absolute rubbish (hich I usually do when I’m hungover) my skin does get worse and I come out in spots. They’re much less than they were, last for much less time and aren’t as fierce though.

    The sum of my experiences means my judgement is that acne isn’t caused by poor diet, although poor diet can contribute to minor spots and a lack-lustre complexion.

    1. Oh wow, Roaccutane! I’ve heard so much good things about it but also horrible things! Since I have a medical history I could never try it out, even though a pill for your acne to be gone sounds really good!

      What do you do to maintain your skin now, are you still on the pill? At what age did your skin finally settle down? I had it pretty bad as a teen and it’s def cleared up a lot now that I’m 21, but it’s still there sometimes and I’m just waiting for all this to be gone, haha, just not sure at what age does zits tend to die down!

  16. Roaccutane was nasty! I had 2 massive doses and wouldn’t recommend it as my acne came back after each dose, it ruined my hair and everything became soo dry as it destroys your grease glands.

    To maintain my skin now I try not to wear too much heavy foundation, use a simple cleanser, drink lots of water, eat fairly healthily and use only light moisturisers. If I get a spot I only really need to use a witch stick, but yes, I am still on the pill (which is the only thing that works.. but then I do have polycystic ovaries which they say causes acne). My zits died down a bit when I was about 17 (after dose 2 of roaccutane), but used to flare up a bit at University if I was eating badly then when I went to Australia in 07 (I was 24) they flared up again really badly.. probably because of the heat. It was then that I went on the pill and since then I’ve not suffered.. but I haven’t come off it either. And don’t intend to either actually.. I like being clear faced .. I can put up with a bit of pill popping for that!

    1. Oh Roaccutane sounds horrible 🙁

      Have you tried Retin A? I am trying it right now and I am having INSANE initial breakouts (I’ve never seen my skin this bad!) but after awhile it will die down and your skin will literally “glow”. Haha. I used it when I was younger and loved it, then I got lazy so I’m trying it again. It’s amazing, also great for preventing wrinkles and what not!

      To be honest I have to agree with you – it’s so much easier to just pop a pill. My friend had acne that was pretty bad but she’s on the Pill no and her skin is fantastic now. I’m tempted but I also heard that the Pill is not good for the body in the long run? Would you know anything about those claims? :S

  17. fried food is definitely a suicidal attempt to “kill” my skin!!! grrrrrrr. the skin hates me once i swallowed those sinfully delicious fried food :S

  18. I absolutely agree that there are very strong links between acne and diet. I have three teenagers at home and after family vacations, where we eat a lot of fast foods, milkshakes and ice cream they all break out badly the next week. We eat lots of fresh foods at home and I cook most nights for the family so I can control their diets. When we are at home and their acne improves a lot.

  19. i definitely think it’s semi-true. it’s not necessarily the food itself though. i think it’s more the grease getting on your hands and fingers and then touching your face that’s the issue.

  20. i have 3 pimples and im 14 mom makes baked chicken everyday i try to pervent acne she keep touching my face after that i wash my face and ever since my brother got pimple (her favorite) she starts making chicken everyday and touch my face nonstop what should i do to avoid it how can i stop her from touching my face can you nice caring people give me tips thank you

  21. I guess it is different for everyone, but I know for sure it’s important if you have sensitive skin. My mother is still battling acne, even after going to a dermatologist. Guess what the dermatologist told her, it all has to do with your immune system. He told her though it may not look great, people who get acne are less likely to have other health problems because your body is releasing the toxins through your skin. Knowing that and doing my own research with my skin, I have come to the conclusion it’s very important. I usually get a few pimples, that is it. I have had three times in my life when my skin has broken out TERRIBLY all over my face and all three times I was eating nothing but junk. My skin will not tolerate eating junkfood everyday. I now take a multivitamin and force myself to eat my mixed veggies everyday. =D

  22. try applying plain yogurt to ur face (every day) for at least two weeks. worked wonders for me! i apply a yogurt mask on my skin every other day. although i still get occassional zits (specially during tht time of the month), my skin has mostly cleared up 🙂

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