Battling acne with food?

acne and food

Coming publicly “out” about my acne, I’ve gotten a lot of advice. A lot of guestions. And a lot of tips. Also, having acne and wanting to get rid of it, I always read posts about it, hoping to learn something new.

But here’s the thing. It feels like there’s not much to learn really. Because everything I read is controversial. Especially about diet and food.

A healthy diet has some impact on your skin as well as in your whole body, mind and soul.

It’s obvious for me – I’ve always noticed the connection between food and my body and my mind. Now a healthy diet can mean different things to different people – for me it means eating vegetarian food with mainly fresh ingredients, drinking lots of water and avoiding sugar or sugary treats. I’ve eaten vegetarian food since I was nine years old. Sure, I’ve also included some not-so-healthy options to my diet, but it’s still always been quite balanced.

That’s why I had some trouble with my diet during last Summer. I’m not so sure I believed in it. I avoided dairy products as well as wheat. I cut down on bread and pasta – all though I never ate that much of those in the first place. I never drink milk for example and the bread that I eat is actually quite healthy, either rye or oats (Finnish bread is quite different than what is sold worldwide).

acne and food my experience

Certain foods in diet – the cause for acne?

I just can’t believe, not really, that a pizza here or there is the reason for acne. Not for me, or for anyone else. What I’m saying is, that a healthy diet may help acne, but it doesn’t cure it, sadly.

However during Summer I cut down dairy and wheat, after hearing that they were causing some people acne. I was a bit desperate and wanted to try everything. But I had some issues with the theory of those being the cause for my acne. Actually two:

One: Being on the pill, I never had skin issues. I was eating the same way as I was always eating, not avoiding dairy or wheat – or anything really. The problems began after quitting the pills, which supports the idea that my acne is strictly hormonal and has nothing to do with what I eat (I actually was right and wrote another post about it (click!).

Two: I was once vegan for over a year, and naturally I didn’t eat any dairy products then. When I slowly took dairy products back to my diet, I did not see any change.

Dairy-free and wheat-free diet – did it affect my skin?

Nevertheless, I’m happy I tried the whole wheat-free and dairy-free diet for about four months. Now I have some experience and I don’t have to scratch my head anymore and wonder, if the cheese in my fridge is a devil to my skin. To sum up my experiences, I would say this: I did not see a difference in my skin. What did improve my skin were skincare products and medication.

However – while I was on a holiday and eating lots of dairy, wheat (and sugar)- my acne seemed to get more inflamed. Then again there’s the travelling aspect of it. When I’m travelling I always seem to break out a little.

So maybe if I ate a lot of dairy and wheat, I would see it in my skin. But when they are just a one part of my diet, there’s not really a difference. The same goes to an unhealthy diet – a longer period of  pizza-eating sure shows in the skin as well as in the body and in the mind.

Last, but not least, I need to point out something, that comes out whenever diet and acne are talked about.

Acne is a skin condition, a disease.

People misuse the word acne a lot. Sure there are different types of acne, but it’s typical to see a post about acne, when it’s actually just impure skin.

The same applies to every skincare tip out there actually – whether it’s “curing acne with coconut oil” or “battling acne with apple cider vinegar”. I’m so sick and tired of reading these articles about acne, when actually it’s just an impure skin and the person never suffered from acne in the first place. Usually after I ask follow-up questions about these arguments, the person admits, that it wasn’t really acne he/she was talking about.

And then there’s the problem, that we are all individuals and we have our own experience of our wellbeing and the health of our skin. And when it comes to diet, there’s this:

does diet affect acne

You could be anywhere on the spectrum.

I’ve heard of some unique cases, where someone has cured active acne by diet changes. Though I must say I don’t know anyone, that I could be certain of. There’s this one girl, who started to suffer from acne again (after first ‘curing’ it), no matter the diet. And then there’s obviously others, who pay a zero attention to what they eat, and their skin is perfect. What’s frustrating and annoying, is that we are all unique in this way too. You could be anywhere on the spectrum.

Personally – I know stress has a bigger impact on my skin than nutrition. And stressing about food causes more stress. The effect on my skin is just not that big, that it would be worth it to start to limit my diet.

Oh – and if you’re new here – my skin is currently doing really well and almost all the acne is gone, since I started to take birth control pills again. Just wanted to get back to this subject, since it’s something I’ve been battling with a lot during the last year.

Do you personally know anyone who’ve battled acne with food? Or do you have your own experiences?
I’d love to hear about everything, in-depth, honestly. Like how bad was your acne and how big of a difference you saw with your diet and acne?

I also found an interesting article, that explains why certain ingredients could affect acne – but how we still don’t have enough research to say for sure:

Diet and acne

acne and diet


12 Replies to “Battling acne with food?”

  1. I see a change in my skin when i eat really bad, but overall, while maintaing a healthy diet with the occasional treat, it doesn´t affect my skin.
    I do believe though that dairy has an effect on hormonal acne when consumed in high quantities. But that is because of the way dairy is produced, so in many cases it contains a huge amount of hormones in itself that mess with our bodies. same goes for lots of sugar, which causes insulin peaks, which aggravates inflammation.
    But overall, a balanced diet doesnßt affect my skin, only my hormones do.

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

    1. Cool, so you’re kinda like me in that way. 🙂 In the article that I linked it said that exact thing about dairy. Kinda makes sense. Thanks for commenting Anne!

  2. I personally see a big change in my skin if I eat sugar, sugar and lots of fats consistently for about 3-5 days. Alcohol also affects my skin. I guess as you said it’s different for every person. For me though a lot of my skincare doesn’t work if I don’t eat right. Hormones however can come and go anytime, unfortunately. I’m really glad you talked about this though!

    Olga from Myme

    1. Thanks for sharing! I’ve heard that alcohol does that to some, but I don’t see it in my skin (thank god, ’cause I appreciate a good wine). Yeah, it’s a delicate subject, but I kinda wanted to talk about it anyway. 🙂

  3. Acne is such a bitch. I believed all the celeb nutrition talk about how I should go soy, sugar, gluten and dairy free and drink kale smoothies every morning. I was soy free for 6 months to a year, sugar I didn’t eat much in the first place, gluten free for 5 YEARS! and dairy free for a couple of years I think? I was sure cutting out gluten would help my bloated stomach, energy levels and above all – skin issues, but in the end it didn’t have much effect on my acne. I do believe:

    – some people are sensitive to gluten or dairy, especially dairy may cause inflammation
    – same with sugar, as sugar feeds the inflammation, reducing processed white sugar may help with the redness etc
    – … personally I haven’t noticed any issues with any of them 🙂
    – I wish 95% of people would keep dietary advice to themselves…

    I didn’t get much help from diet changes, prescription creams etc. I believe general eating, drinking, living habits and stress might have had some effect on my face, but can’t pinpoint just one. Only thing that took my acne away was Roaccutane medication. I only had to do it once, so I consider myself lucky. Important article, thanks Charlotta!

    xx Laura / Laurantaina Beauty Blog

    1. Thank you Laura for sharing and I agree with everything. And that one part (95%) kinda made me laugh :’D I’m happy you only had to go through Roaccuttan once and that it worked for you! <3

  4. Mä olen siinä mielessä onnekas, että mulla hyvä ihonhoitorutiini ja ruokavalion fiksaus, sekä henkinen seesteys on vaikuttanut ihoon positiivisesti. Mulle tk-lääkäri diagnosoi lievän aknen, mutta ehkä se oli lopulta liian “raju” diagnoosi? Omani ei selvästikään ollut hormonaalinen. Nykyään voin syödä hillitysti maitotuotteita, esim. jäätelö ja juustot silloin tällöin ei tee konkurssia 🙂 Mutta kahviin käytän soijamaitoa ja voin rehellisesti sanoa, että se maistuu paljon paremmalta, kuin lehmänmaito kahvissa 😀 Samoin olen tottunut soijajogurttiinkin. Yosaa on vähän ikävä, samoin rahkaa. Sitä saatan silloin tällöin vetää purkillisen ^_^ Ehkä avainsanana on myös se tietty lempeys ja ei tiukalle ehdottomuudelle.

    1. Ihana kuulla! Henkinen seesteys ja stressin vähentäminen – etenkin ihoa kohtaan – auttaa kyllä mullakin. Ainakin oloon. Ja oikeesti ihanaa, että sun akne ei ollut hormonaalista – sen hoito kun on oikeasti niin hankalaa. Mä tykkään juoda oman kahvini kauramaidolla (ikaffe), mutta soijamaito on kyllä kans herkkua kahvissa. 🙂 Mllakin vuosien kasvissyönti ja monen vuoden maidottomuuskin on tehnyt kaikki soijajugut tutuksi ja niitä tulee valittua maitotuotteiden sijaan aika automaattisestikin. Ja kyllä ainaki itsellä nimenomaan se lempeys. Kiitos kun kommentoit <3

  5. No hei täällä kans toinen aknen kanssa paininut. Ja oon siis aivan samaa mieltä sun kanssa! Jos se on hormonalista, niin ei siihen auta kuin hormonit. Ihan oikeasti! Kyllästyin itekin kuuntelemaan muiden vinkkejä (vaikka ymmärrän että yrittivät vain auttaa) siitä miten ihon saa varmasti kuntoon kun jätät sen ja sen ruokavaliosta tai vaihdat luonnonkosmetiikkaan. No ei auttanut. Mut tulipahan kokeiltua 😀
    Ihana kuulla, että sulla on iho nyt kunnossa pillereiden kanssa! Mullahan nekään ei lopulta auttaneet, joten nyt mennään sitten rankemman kautta Isotretinoinin kanssa. Siitä on kyllä onneksi ollut iso apu ja toki nyt sitten toivon, että kun kuuri loppuu, niin akne ei myöskään palaa.

    1. Siis kyllä!! Harmi, ettei sulla pillerit toiminut, mut toisaalta lääkäri sano mulle, että ainoa mikä pysyvästi sen parantaa on nimenomaan Roa. Toivon, ettei mun tartte siihen turvautuu, mut tiedostan, että tulevaisuus on auki :/ Mut ihanaa, että meillä molemmilla on nyt akne hoidossa kuitenkin <3

  6. I’m so glad to hear that your skin is doing a lot better! Very well written post and I guess it does depend on person to person whether food is related to acne. I’ve never truly battled with acne, only when I was a teen I had a very short period and went immediately to a dermatologist that helped me and it never came back. From all the posts I’ve read on this topic, like you mentioned the cause and solution is very personal and to each their own.

    Sam Hodgett || Beauty & Lifestyle bits

    1. Thank you so much – yeah it’s a complex subject.

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