Seasonal summer foods for healthier skin

Plant-based foods to eat for clearer skin this season.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Aug 31, 2021 · 5 min read

Collage of fresh fruits and vegetables
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.

There’s nothing like biting into a juicy piece of fruit on a hot summer day—and if you struggle with acne, you may think plant-based choices are your best bet for clear skin. But the relationship between our skin and our diet is complex, so I wanted to know exactly which summer fruits and vegetables to put on my grocery shopping list. After doing some research and checking in with the dermatology experts at Curology, I landed on 9 fresh foods that may help improve your acne this season.

What’s the best diet for acne?

While it’s true that eating some foods and avoiding others may help clear your skin, there’s no one-size-fits-all “best diet” that’s good for acne. That’s because the relationship between our diet and our skin is indirect: nutrients impact things like blood sugar and hormones, which can influence breakouts.

If you’re suffering from hormonal acne, fungal acne, or other kinds of acne on specific parts of your face, changes in your diet—along with a good skincare routine—may help clear your skin.  I’d recommend chatting with your medical provider about changes in your diet that make sense for your overall health. In the meantime, eating extra fresh fruits and veggies can’t hurt your skin, and may be even better than taking vitamin supplements for acne.

Infographic The Best Fruits and Vegetables To Support Clear Skin

5 summer fruits that may be good for acne 

Kiwis, cherries, and stone fruits (like peaches, nectarines, and plums) may be good for acne because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

  1. Kiwis are a high fiber fruit packed with vitamin C  and vitamin E. 

  2. Peaches have b-complex vitamins, which may help improve skin tone and texture

  3. Nectarines have a good mix of different nutrients that may help skin—like niacin, vitamin A, and zinc—though in safe amounts!

  4. Plums are high in fiber, low in sugar, and packed with antioxidants. In theory, they may help prevent breakouts by helping you avoid blood sugar spikes

  5. Cherries are another fruit that’s high in antioxidants and low on the glycemic index, so fresh cherries can be a healthy choice for your skin. 

4 summer vegetables that may help clear skin

Many vegetables are in season in the winter, but chickpeas, mushrooms, red pepper, and leafy greens like kale are good to eat in the summer and may help clear your skin.

  1. Red pepper contains vitamin A, B vitamins, and other nutrients that can help support healthy skin.

  2. Kale may help promote smooth, clear skin; it’s jam-packed with vitamin A (23% DV per cup).

  3. Mushrooms are high in vitamin D, which we can also get from the sun. Eat a fungi and skip the UV damage! 

  4. Chickpeas may help with acne thanks to zinc—try a veggie platter with hummus as a skin healthy snack at your next BBQ! 

Acne and foods to avoid

There’s a lot of information out there about foods you should stay away from if you’re trying to treat acne—but not all of this advice is backed by research! What we do know is that avoiding foods that are high on the glycemic index, as well as certain dairy products, may lead to an improvement in breakouts for some people (but not all!). 

The glycemic index and your skin

The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that classifies foods based on the effect they have on a person’s blood sugar. High glycemic index foods make your blood sugar spike quickly, causing your body to produce insulin, a hormone that absorbs the extra sugar from your blood. 

Food pyramid glycemic info

Studies show that insulin spikes can lead to inflammation in the skin and may trigger acne. So generally, the lower the glycemic index, the less risky a food will be to your skin. High GI foods tend to be higher in simple carbs (white bread, cornflakes, white rice, etc); some low GI foods include whole grain bread, green veggies (broccoli, brussels sprouts, leafy salads), seeds, legumes, hummus, and berries.

Does dairy cause breakouts?

Dairy doesn’t trigger breakouts in everyone, but it has been linked to acne in some people. It’s because dairy products contain certain components that can stimulate our skin to produce more oil, leading to breakouts. 

You may want to try cutting out dairy for two weeks to see if there’s an improvement in your skin—beware of sneaky culprits like skim milk and protein shakes with whey! 

The clear skin journey

If you’re trying to make the best possible choices to speed the healing of your acne, give yourself kudos for doing your homework! Diet is one lifestyle factor that can impact skin, but acne has multiple causes—which is why it can be so frustrating to pinpoint the causes (and solution) for your breakouts. 

Curology skincare routine

A skincare routine with a good acne treatment for your skin is important, too. A simple 3-step routine at night of cleansing, moisturizing, and using an acne treatment can make a big difference, so long as you’re using the right ingredients for you. Working with a medical professional can help streamline the experience, and if you’re having trouble finding an in-person dermatology provider, then you might be able to find what you need online.

Curology free trial acne treatment

Enter Curology—it’s custom skincare designed by dermatologists that gets sent straight to your door. Just take a skin quiz and snap some selfies to get a free skincare consult where you’ll be paired with a licensed medical provider who can evaluate your skin and prescribe you a formula with a mix of ingredients chosen for your unique skin. You can complete your routine by adding on our gentle, non-clogging skincare staples like the cleanser, moisturizer, and acne body wash. 

Start your Curology free trial now. Your first personalized subscription box is free—just pay $4.95 (plus tax)* to cover shipping and handling. 

• • •

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.

*Subject to consultation. Subscription required. Trial is 30 days. 

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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