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The elimination diet for acne

How to avoid food that causes pimples.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar
by Stephanie Papanikolas
Updated on Jul 7, 2023 • 3 min read
Cupcakes
Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar
by Stephanie Papanikolas
Updated on Jul 7, 2023 • 3 min read
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.

Eating healthy is a good idea for lots of reasons — but is there such a thing as a diet for clear skin? There’s a link between hormonal acne and diet, and food that causes acne may be playing games with your skin. So before you eat that cupcake for breakfast, here are foods to avoid for acne — and why.

Foods that cause acne

While everyone’s skin is unique, medical evidence suggests that diet and skin can be linked because of hormones. Here are the 3 main culprits when it comes to food that causes breakouts:

  1. Sugar. Too much sugar can cause acne because it causes a spike in insulin, a hormone that’s been linked to skin inflammation.

  2. Dairy. Milk helps produce testosterone and other androgens, which trigger oil production in the skin — this can lead to clogged pores.

  3. Simple carbs. Foods like white bread and white rice have a high glycemic index which — like sugar — increases insulin, and these foods may be the main culprit in acne.

The elimination diet for acne

Food allergies are extremely common, and the elimination diet is a solid method to identify potential triggers. For two weeks, you eliminate the following food groups from your diet:

  • Soy

  • Eggs

  • Nuts

  • Dairy

  • Wheat

  • Anything with added sugar

  • Citrus

It’s a pretty restrictive regimen that’s used to identify inflammatory digestive issues and other chronic conditions — if you have a known or suspected food allergy, have an in-person medical provider supervise your diet for maximum safety.

If you want to try an elimination diet to help clear skin, you can give it a shot — but it’s probably overkill. Mindful eating just might help improve your skin’s appearance — but it might not be medically necessary. If you do want to give it a try, make sure you’re getting enough of the daily essentials your body needs.

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If you’re struggling with hormonal acne, I feel you — the complex way our lifestyles influence our hormones can, in turn, influence our skin, but solutions for breakouts aren’t always one-size-fits-all. Even though hormones play a big part in our acne, so do other factors, like clogged pores, skin inflammation, and bacteria. So skin treatments that don’t affect hormones still help hormonal acne.

Need some extra support on your way to clear skin? Sign up for a free trial of Curology and get a custom cream prescribed to you by one of our in-house dermatology providers — just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover the cost of shipping and handling.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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