Skip to main content

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

  1. blog
  2. > Skin Concerns

Fact or fiction: Does peanut butter cause acne?

The peanuts aren’t to blame. But all that added sugar may be.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 7, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Laura Phelan, NP-C
glass jar full of peanut butter
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 7, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Laura Phelan, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Peanut butter is packed with protein and healthy fats, making it a popular snack food that can actually be good for you. But if you love your PB and find yourself breaking out, you may start to wonder: Does peanut butter cause acne? 

We’ll explore the link between acne and peanut butter, the types of fatty acids in peanuts, and the pros and cons of this tasty snack food. While more research is needed to fully understand the effects of peanut butter on the skin, there’s no reason to abandon the spread just yet. 

A favorite snack for people of all ages

Peanuts make a versatile, healthy snack—raw, roasted, salted, or ground into peanut butter. Peanut butter is tasty with jelly, celery, and apples, or on its own. And it’s pretty good for you healthwise, too! 

The American Peanut Council offers some compelling reasons to reach for peanuts (which, by law, must make up at least 90% of any given jar of peanut butter¹) the next time you’re looking for a quick snack:

  • They have more protein than any other nut. (Fun fact: Peanuts are classified as a legume botanically and a nut nutritionally.²)

  • They’re a low-carb snack, a good source of nutrients (vitamin E, magnesium, niacin, copper), a rich source of fiber, full of bioactive, and high in healthy fats.³

  • About 80% of the total fat content in peanuts is “good” fat, and each 1 oz serving of oil-roasted peanuts contains 2.7 g of dietary fiber!⁴  

Is there a link between peanut butter and acne?

There isn’t any evidence that directly links peanuts and hormonal acne—or any acne for that matter—just like there isn’t evidence to support that peanut butter is good for acne. It’s like soy; there’s a “good” side and a “bad” side. And everyone’s skin may react differently to peanuts and peanut butter. 

But some additives in peanut butter—sugar, namely—might lead to a pimple or two on your face. Sugar is often added to peanut products, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology (ADD), sugar causes a spike in blood sugar, which can provoke inflammation and sebum production, sometimes triggering acne.⁵ 

Avoiding sugar is one easy way to promote clearer skin. You can also try Whole30 or an elimination diet to see what works for you. Steering clear of foods that cause acne breakouts can put you on the path to clearer skin.

What about fatty acids?

Here’s the nitty-gritty on essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6: They’re considered essential because people need to get them from their diet, but the human body can’t produce them on its own.⁶ Fatty fish, flaxseed, and nuts are sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Plant oils (cottonseed, soybean, safflower), nuts, and legumes (like peanuts!) are sources of omega-6. 

  • Omega-3 fatty acids help cells in your body function and may have anti-inflammatory properties that could play a protective role against certain diseases.⁷  

  • Omega-6 fatty acids are essential to many body functions, but high levels may lead to inflammation and an increased risk of certain diseases (cancer, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune diseases).⁸

There’s a bit of controversy about the benefits of these two fatty acids.⁹ But where most nutrition experts agree is that when the ratio is skewed, the scale may tip from good to bad, particularly for omega-6 fatty acids. Today’s western diet tends to have a higher omega-6 and lower omega-3 fatty acid intake, which means we’re typically overconsuming one and not consuming enough of the other. According to one study, a ratio of 1:1 to 1:2 (omega-3 to omega-6) is the target ratio for overall health.¹⁰ 

Vegetable oils (sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, and soybean) are high in omega-6 fatty acids¹¹—and may be found in peanut butter. Consuming more omega-6 fatty acids may lead to the development of inflammatory factors and may contribute to an increase in breakouts.¹² 

While peanuts contain far more omega-6 FAs than omega-3 FAs, they’re both essential fatty acids, and we must consume them both throughout our diet. Just remember that balance is key!

hungry young woman with spoon

The bright side of peanuts 

Unless you have a peanut allergy, both peanuts and peanut butter benefit your health. In fact, peanut butter was created in the 1890s by a physician as a soft protein substitute that was easy to consume (100 grams of peanuts contains more than 25 grams of protein). The benefits of reaching for a handful of roasted peanuts include:¹³ 

  • Plenty of protein. Peanuts have more protein per half cup than pinto beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, rice, cornmeal, wheat flour, and soybean flour. They contain all 20 amino acids, and because they’re a plant-based protein, peanuts are rich in fiber and easily digestible.  

  • Vitamins and minerals. Here’s where peanuts really shine: 100 grams of peanuts provide 75% of the daily recommended dietary allowance of niacin, 60% of folate, and 55.5% of vitamin E. Peanuts also contain 127% of the daily recommended dietary allowance of copper and 84% of manganese.

  • Antioxidants. Peanuts contain phenolic acids, a compound with rich antioxidant properties. Studies show that phenolic compounds boost the antioxidant content of peanuts by as much as 22%. 

  • Energy. Peanuts are an energy-dense food with a low glycemic index—meaning they won’t create an insulin spike when eaten. 

  • Healthy heart. Peanuts contain about 50% monosaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce cholesterol and the risk of coronary heart disease.¹⁴ 

The potential downside of peanuts

Like most healthy foods, peanuts are great—in moderation. Here are some of the potential side effects of peanut butter on the skin and body: 

  • May cause an allergic reaction. Peanuts are a common food allergy. 

  • May increase inflammation. Remember the omega-3 and omega-6 thing? Well, peanuts have a lot more omega-6s than 3s. So eating a lot of peanuts can skew the ratio, and peanut butter with added sources of omega-6s can be even worse.

  • May deliver a lot more sugar than intended. Peanut butter often contains added sugar—the same is true of other processed peanut products.

curology family products

Curology cares for your skin with effective ingredients 

Seeking guidance from a medical professional, like one of Curology’s licensed dermatology providers, helps you determine the skincare and the specific prescription treatments that can work for your unique skin. Curology was founded in 2014 by a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. David Lortscher, MD, to offer accessible and effective full-service skincare.

When you become a member, one of our licensed dermatology providers will evaluate your skin, review your skin goals, and create a custom treatment plan. You’ll receive a personalized prescription formula to address your skin concerns and other supporting products to round out your skincare routine. 

We’re here to take the guesswork out of skincare. Get started by signing up today.

FAQs

Is there a link between peanut butter and acne?

There isn’t any evidence that directly links peanuts and hormonal acne—or any acne for that matter—just like there isn’t evidence to support that peanut butter is good for acne. It’s like soy; there’s a “good” side and a “bad” side. And everyone’s skin may react differently to peanuts and peanut butter. 

What about fatty acids?

Here’s the nitty-gritty on essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6: They’re considered essential because people need to get them from their diet, but the human body can’t produce them on its own.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids help cells in your body function and may have anti-inflammatory properties that could play a protective role against certain diseases.  

  • Omega-6 fatty acids are essential to many body functions, but high levels may lead to inflammation and an increased risk of certain diseases.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. American Peanut Institute. Health benefits of peanuts and peanut butter. (n.d.).

  2. American Peanut Institute. Health benefits of peanuts and peanut butter. (Ibid).

  3. American Peanut Institute. Health & Nutrition. (n.d.).

  4. American Peanut Institute. Health benefits of peanuts and peanut butter. (Ibid).

  5. American Academy of Dermatology. Can the right diet get rid of acne? (n.d.).

  6. Kaur N., et al. Essential fatty acids as functional components of foods- a review. J Food Sci Technol. (October 2014).

  7. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. (n.d.).

  8. Simopoulos, A.P. The omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio: health implications. Oilseeds and Fats Crops and Lipids. (September-October 2010).

  9. National Peanut Board. Here’s the truth about omega-6s. (n.d.).

  10. Simopoulos, A.P. The omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio: health implications. Oilseeds and Fats Crops and Lipids. Ibid.

  11. Simopoulos, A.P. The omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio: health implications. Oilseeds and Fats Crops and Lipids. Ibid.

  12. Podgórska A., et al. Acne Vulgaris and Intake of Selected Dietary Nutrients—A Summary of Information. Healthcare. (September 2021).

  13. Arya, S.S., et al. Peanuts as functional food: A review.Journal of Food Science and Technology. (2016).

  14. Arya, S.S., et al. Peanuts as functional food: A review.Journal of Food Science and Technology. Ibid.

Laura Phelan is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Benedictine University and went on to get her post-master’s certificate as a Family Nurse Practitioner at the University of Cincinnati.

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary. 

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Image of Laura Phelan Nurse Practitioner

Laura Phelan, NP-C

Related Articles

The best liquid blush for acne-prone skin, according to dermatology providersHow to choose the best moisturizer for acne-prone skinAsk an expert: What happens if you stop using tretinoin? Dry, flaky, or peeling skin on your nose? What causes it and how to prevent itOur 8 picks for the best night serums to improve your skin while you sleep

Popular Articles

Ask Curology: Is my cold breaking me out?Slugging: The dermatologist-approved skincare hack going viral on TikTokTretinoin vs retinol: What’s the difference?How to create a self-care routine that actually sticksYour 2023 skincare horoscope
Try prescription skincare
30-day trial. Subject to consultation. Cancel anytime.
Get routine essentials
A display of Curology Custom Formula bottles on a white shelf.

Good skin days ahead

Join the 1M+ patients who’ve tackled everything from acne, to fine lines, to hair thinning with prescription-powered treatments, personalized by a Licensed Dermatology Provider.
Ingredients proven to tackle
  • Breakouts
  • Redness
  • Fine lines
  • Dark spots
  • Hair thinning
$29.95/month
*Subject to consultation. Cancel anytime.
Get StartedShop ProductsWhy CurologyHow It WorksOur StoryCommunity
SupportBlogReviewsCareersContact Us
Follow @curology
Terms of ServicePrivacy Notice
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
All Rights Reserved © 2024 Curology