Breaking out after a binge fest? This could be more than mere coincidence. There is new evidence to show there is a link between diet and acne. What we put into our bodies does eventually show up on our skin.

According to Dr Low Chai Ling, founder of SW1 Clinic, “While the exact cause of acne is unknown, but there are a number of factors that can bring on acne or make it worse, including hormones, genetics, and emotional stress. It’s also true that diet can impact acne”. In the past, some believe that diet causing acne is nothing but a myth. That’s no longer the case.

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Here is how what we eat impacts our acne.



Several new studies have examined the possible link between diet and acne — particularly carbohydrates.

A study of 23 Australian males aged between 15-25 who followed a strict, low-glycemic load (LGL) diet experienced significant improvement in acne severity by adhering to a LGL diet. However, the participants in the LGL group also lost weight, which means the LGL diet may not solely be attributed to the outcome.

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Not all carbohydrates are made the same however. One way is to look at the glycaemic index of the food, The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate-rich foods based on their potential to increase blood sugar levels. Foods with higher glycemic index values raise blood sugar levels much quicker than foods with lower glycemic index values. The glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality and quantity of carbohydrates being consumed in a serving of food. For example, high-GI foods include white bread, chips, and white potatoes; low-GI foods include multi-grain bread, peanuts, vegetables, and beans. The consumption of high-glycemic index foods appears to trigger a cascade of responses, which can lead to acne through effects on growth hormones and sex hormones.

Swap your high GI foods with low GI options (that’s multi-grain bread for white bread), and limit your carbohydrate intake by including plenty of other foods such as vegetables, fruits and fish in your diet.

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Early studies dating as far back as 1949 have raised the possibility that an association between dairy consumption and acne may exist. More recently in 2005, a retrospective study was conducted in which 47,355 adult women were asked to recall their high school diet and if they ever had “physician-diagnosed severe acne.” The study found that acne was positively associated with the reported quantity of milk ingested — particularly skim milk!

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In 2006, a study examined the self-reported food consumption as well as the frequency and amount of pimples experienced by 6,094 girls aged 9 to 15 over three years. The study found positive associations between the prevalence of acne and the intake of total milk, whole milk, low-fat milk, and skim milk.

While there are some flaws in each study, dairy does appear to have some association with acne, with the strongest association being skim milk. The exact mechanism behind this association is unclear, but it’s suspected that hormones and growth factors in milk might play a role.

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Given the benefits of calcium and vitamin D — especially in a growing adolescent population — patients who choose to limit or avoid dairy products should supplement their diet with appropriate levels of calcium and vitamin D.

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Watch for food triggers that may seem to aggravate acne.

Keep a food diary and communicate this with your dermatologist. Be patient as it may take up to 12 weeks for any association to be fully apparent.

Continue following your regular acne treatment routine.

Diet changes are only a small part of an acne treatment plan and are meant to be used in conjunction with proven medical therapies for acne. Don’t abandon your anti-acne routine while trying to eliminate acne food triggers.

Use a multi-pronged approach to treat your acne.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, as the saying goes. Similarly there is evidence that combining different anti-acne modalities can yield better results. Watching for food triggers while engaging in an effective anti-acne skin regimen is for one a wise combination. Even for skincare regime, don’t stick with one product. It’s always better to use two or more synergistic topicals to give your skin the best chance of clearing the acne. We love Flawless’s acne prevention strategy with Clear Bliss anti-acne spot treatment. For those impatient for faster results and who wants a chance as blemish free skin, try a skin treatment such as Forever Clear BBL. This in combination with aquadermabrasion facial really works to not only clear out comedones and clogged pores, but also stop outbreaks in its tracks.


Eat acne fighting foods

There are foods that can fortify our skin’s defenses so we are better equipped to fight acne and heal from our outbreaks.



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