The Link Between Junk Food and Acne

The Link Between Junk Food and Acne

You probably know about the harmful effects of junk food on the skin. However, sometimes you don't have time to get a proper meal and succumb to fries or a burger. A few hours or days later, you get a nasty breakout.

Junk food and breakouts

It's not until as recently as February 2013 that scientists proved that diets high in processed sugars and carbohydrates were associated with acne. These findings were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 


Researchers analyzed published research on diet and acne conducted over the past 40 years. The scientists found some evidence linking a diet with a high glycemic load with acne breakouts. This is because sugars and carbohydrates cause insulin levels to spike, which leads to inflammation.

According to other scientific studies, there's some evidence that diets leaning heavily on dairy foods play a role in causing acne since these foods trigger the release of certain hormones that cause inflammation.

Diet and acne

Acne breakouts result from a multi-step process in the skin, and our diet contributes to this. Dead skin cells that fail to slough off remain on the skin surface. These dead cells block pores and trap sebum and protein under the skin.

Bacteria found on the skin feed on the dead cells, creating blackheads and pimples.


Acne occurs when your skin’s oil glands are overactive and pores become inflamed. Some types of skin bacteria may make pimples worse. Acne can appear anywhere on the skin, but it most often occurs on the face.  Proper cleansing, regular exfoliation, and nourishing products are essential to proper skin care.

However, certain foods stimulate healthy skin cell renewal and should be a part of your diet if you desire amazing skin.

Diet and sebum

Some scientists say that our diet may affect the skin's sebum, leading to an imbalance that causes acne. In 2009, researchers found that some evidence suggests that dietary factors change the output of sebaceous glands in the skin. Also, the production of sebum increases with more consumption of carbohydrates or fat.


A different 2009 review also studied the relationship of diet with acne and noted that:

  • People who struggle with acne can help alleviate the condition by consuming vitamin A-rich foods, including carrots, liver, red pepper, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy greens.
  • Various studies have shown that diets deficient in essential fatty acids contribute to a variety of skin problems, such as dry skin and acne.
  • Non-western diets have correlated with the absence of acne in population-based studies.
  • Typical Western diets are too high in omega-6 fatty acids and deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Such diets are associated with heightened inflammation in the body, which also affects the skin.

No food in isolation causes acne or effectively treat its symptoms. However, the researchers advocate that certain foods worsen the severity of acne.

What should you do?

If your skin is acne-prone, dehydrated, or suffers too much redness, inspect your diet.

Slowly reduce your consumption of junk food, simple sugars, and carbohydrates. Eat more colorful (and fresh) fruits and vegetables, which have potent antioxidants and other nutrients that provide more moisture from within.

Enjoy radiant skin!

With love,

​The Sole Toscana Beauty Team