Acne may seem like a simple problem with a simple solution. If your pores are getting clogged, wash your face, right? It’s not that easy, however. Acne can be caused by genetics and made worse by hormones and even the food you eat. We’re going to focus on the food you eat, specifically the junk food you eat. Some junk food may cause your acne to get worse.

What causes acne?

Acne is caused by clogged pores or hair follicles. Your pores get clogged by oil and dead skin cells. Getting rid of acne is not as simple as exfoliating and using soap on your skin. The oil comes from deep within your skin and can’t always just be washed off. While exfoliating can help, overdoing it can cause more problems. Irritating your skin leads to inflammation which can lead to more acne.

Another cause is microorganisms. Human skin is covered with microorganisms. Most of them don’t cause any problem. However, there are some that can cause problems like acne.
Hormone changes can cause your oil glands to make more or less oil. Hormone changes are common in adolescence. One of the reasons what you eat can impact your skin is because what you eat can impact your hormones. If your body chemistry changes, that means your skin chemistry changes and that can lead to acne.

Do fatty foods cause acne?

Eating foods high in fat is not associated with acne with one exception. Eating greasy food and then touching your face could transfer oil. That could block your pores. Otherwise, fat isn’t associated with acne.

One fat can help your acne. Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a decrease in acne. The easiest way to increase your omega-3 intake is to eat more fish. Not only is it good for your skin, but omega-3 fatty acids are good for your health.

That doesn’t mean your favorite full fat ice cream is off the hook, though. A lot of junk food is high calorie because it’s high in fat and carbohydrates.

Does sugar cause acne?

If you eat refined sugar or other refined carbohydrates you may make your acne worse. While there isn’t evidence that high glycemic index food cause acne, studies show a decrease in lesions when afflicted individuals stop eating high carbohydrate foods.

What diet is best for acne?

Try eating less refined sugars. Diets like the Mediterranean diet are low on the glycemic index and are heart healthy as well. The Mediterranean diet consists of a lot of vegetables, olive oil, and protein rich foods like fish. Because of the healthy fat in olive oil, the Mediterranean diet is better for your heart than diets with butter. So, it not only helps your skin, it helps your heart.

Can any foods or supplements help acne?

Possibly. Acne is linked to low blood levels of zinc. So, a zinc supplement could help. However, there are foods with zinc that you could include in your diet:

  • Beef
  • Spinach
  • Flax seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Oysters

Also, vitamin A can help acne, but vitamin A supplements should only be taken after checking with your doctor because you can take too much vitamin A and that could lead to severe health problems.

As mentioned before, omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a decrease in acne. You can take them in supplement form or include foods high in omega-3s like fish in your diet. It’s worth noting that the heart and skin friendly Mediterranean Diet includes fish.


Yes, junk food can adversely affect your skin by making acne worse. While there’s no evidence that it causes acne, it certainly doesn’t help. You can make changes like eating foods lower in refined carbohydrates like white flour and refined sugar. You can also benefit from eating foods high in zinc like kidney beans and beef. You could even try out the Mediterranean diet to benefit your skin and heart.

Acne has many causes. Your diet may or may not be making your acne worse. Improving your diet can improve your overall health, but if it doesn’t help your acne you can ask your doctor for help. Remember that changing your diet for the better is always a good idea.