Junk Food and Your Skin: Can Junk Food Cause Acne?

Junk Food and Your Skin: Can Junk Food Cause Acne?

It’s cheat day and you decide to treat yourself with a little junk food. Don’t worry we’ve all been there. 

But the question remains, does junk food cause acne?

Can Junk Food Cause Acne?

Well, junk food is called junk for a reason. What these foods lack in nutrients and minerals, they make up for with kilojoules (energy), salts, sugars, and fats

However, there’s a variety of junk food on the market and each contains its own mix of ingredients, which are bad for you, including your skin.

These ingredients are what could be causing acne. So what are the ingredients we should look out for?

Foods That Can Cause Acne

It’s a long-standing fact that our diet affects our skin. Specifically, the way our body absorbs what we eat is what’s causing the changes we experience in our body, and that includes acne. 

So what is it in our food that’s causing acne? According to Healthline, you should look out for refined carbohydrates, dairy products, fast food, chocolate, whey protein powder, and foods you’re sensitive to in junk food. These can cause imbalances in your body which often leads to acne.

Refined sugars and grains

sugar on table

A study by Burris, Rietkerk, Shikany, and Woolf from PubMed suggests that refined carbohydrates increase the chances of a breakout occurring. Foods like bread and sweetened beverages raise your blood sugar and insulin levels. Since refined carbohydrates are easy to absorb, they enter your bloodstream quickly so your blood sugar and insulin levels also rise quickly. 

The increased insulin also increases your growth factor which boosts sebum production. That’s going to make your skin more prone to acne breakouts.

Dairy Products

Studies published in PubMed on the link between dairy and acne formation show that people who consume dairy products are four times more likely to have acne as opposed to those who don’t. But there are not enough reviews or supporting literature to consider this a sure fact.

Some studies about dairy intake from PubMed say it’s because dairy products increase insulin levels while others say the amino acids from dairy products stimulate the liver to produce more growth factors which also boosts sebum production

So far, it’s unclear whether dairy products really contribute to acne but it could be a contributing factor.

Fast Food

fried fast food

Specifically Western fast food which includes burgers, nuggets, hot dogs, fries, and sodas is suggested to increase the risk of acne. 

Most studies related to fast food are self-reported and thus it’s important to note that these may be inaccurate or there may be other factors that are affecting the acne breakouts. 

Still, there are multiple studies from PubMed relating to fast food and hormones suggesting that the increased risk is because the food alters hormone levels and sebum production much like dairy and sugars. Since fast food also contains these ingredients, it’s possible that it also causes acne.


different Chocolates

The age-old question of whether chocolate actually causes acne or not remains unanswered to this day. There have been multiple informal surveys published on PubMed conducted in an effort to find the answer but the methodology isn’t enough to formally prove anything. 

Still, these studies showed that acne-prone people who consumed chocolate for 2 weeks experienced more acne breakouts as opposed to those before the chocolate. The same happened with cocoa powder after just 1 week.

Whey Protein Powder

Whey is a common choice in supplements, especially for workout sessions. It gives you that extra boost in your workout so you can get more gains. But along with that extra boost comes extra acne. 

Articles published in PubMed show that the amino acids in whey protein stimulate insulin and growth factors, much like dairy. However, although these studies show consistent results, more research is needed on the topic in order to make sure whether it is the whey protein that’s causing the reaction.

Foods You’re Sensitive To

peanuts on table

By sensitive, it means foods that trigger inflammatory reactions in your body. The most common are allergies; your body mistakes food for threats and attacks it. This causes your skin to become inflamed which will make you more prone to acne.

Although there aren’t a lot of studies related to these foods, past studies from the National Library of Medicine suggest that they affect your skin, making it more acne-prone and inflamed. If you’re consuming any of these regularly and notice your acne isn’t going away, you might want to hold off on these.

Diets That Are Good For Your Skin

Holding off on junk food doesn’t mean you don’t get to eat good food. On that note, not all food is created equal. Some are especially good for acne breakouts.

According to Healthline, low-glycemic diets, zinc, vitamins A and E, antioxidants, and omega-3 diets are especially useful in getting rid of acne.

Low-glycemic Diets

If sugars and refined carbohydrates are what’s aggravating your acne, that means cutting down on foods containing these will help prevent and improve acne. One study showed that switching to a low-glycemic diet showed significant improvements in acne after 10 weeks. 


delicious steak

Zinc plays a huge role in regulating metabolism and hormone levels and that’s exactly what’s making junk food so influential in your skin’s health. So to avoid hormonal imbalances or adverse effects from your diet, add zinc to your diet. 

Some foods with zinc are pumpkin seeds, beef, turkey, and more. Not only does this regulate and balance your body’s hormones but also improves your immune system.

Vitamins A and E

According to a study on vitamins A and E, low levels of said vitamins can cause acne breakouts and aggravate existing acne. The best way to counter this is to consume foods rich in these vitamins.

Antioxidants and Omega-3

salmon sashimi

Not all kinds of fat are bad for you. Omega-3s are a type of fat that curb inflammation in your system. They’re usually found in fish or eggs. On the other hand, antioxidants have a neutralizing effect on harmful toxins in your body.

Put together, they prevent your body from being harmed by toxins and, if it does happen, also reduce inflammation. This helps prevent unnecessary irritations on your skin and consequently prevents acne as well.

How to Get Rid of Acne

Diet isn’t the only factor that can contribute to your acne. Although you got your diet in order, you still need to account for external factors. The best way to counter this is to maintain a daily skincare routine.

Skincare routines consist of 2 main steps, facial cleanser, and moisturizer. For better results, it’s best to apply this both before you start your day and before you go to sleep. 

The cleanser will clean off any gunk on your skin and the moisturizer will keep your skin hydrated while also preventing any other unwanted materials or bacteria from latching onto your skin and causing acne.

Use Anti-acne Serum

man apply cream in front of mirror

However, these 2 steps might not be enough especially for those who are acne-prone. No worries, just add an anti-acne serum to your routine.

Anti-acne serums contain salicylic acids which will kill any bacteria lounging on your skin. They also close up your pores and soothe your skin.

I recommend the Mantisfy Anti-Acne and Repairing Serum. It not only prevents acne from breaking out but also repairs damaged skin cells. It contains Salicornia which soothes your skin and keeps it hydrated, and Edelweiss which fights off the bacteria and repairs your skin cells.

Key Takeaways

Junk foods are definitely bad for your health and your skin. It might be alright once in a while but some may be more sensitive to it than others depending on what’s in the junk food. In cases like this, it’s good to take note of which foods can really trigger acne breakouts.

You can also try out healthier alternatives instead. They’re just as good and still healthy for your skin as fish, legumes, and sweet potatoes, to name a few. You’re not only taking care of your skin but your overall health as well.

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