Does Chocolate Cause Acne?

There are many kinds of chocolate, but we’ll be speaking specifically about dark chocolate or pure, unsweetened cocoa. Unfortunately, there is no current, clear answer of whether or not chocolate causes acne. Proof showing chocolate being the cause of acne has not been found.

Chocolate Doesn’t Cause Acne, but Does Chocolate Worsen Acne?

Although, more specifically, does dark chocolate worsen acne? It might! A study observed that acne-prone men who consumed 25g of 99% dark chocolate a day for four weeks showed an increase in acne lesions. Another study involving college students also generated similar results in just 48 hours. However, there are other studies that showed the opposite, finding no link at all between chocolate and the worsening of acne. More research on larger test groups will be required to get a definite answer.

If you’re suffering from acne and wondering whether or not to swear off chocolate goodies, it really comes down to the individual since there is still little evidence to show any reason to completely avoid it. You should also note that your diet by itself will not cause or prevent acne, since your genes and lifestyle are also factors that you need to consider.

However, just because the cocoa itself might be safe, most chocolate products come with other ingredients that are proven to cause or worsen acne.

Food That Does Affect Acne for the Worse

Because of a lack of evidence, some of you might consider pure chocolate to be safe. Now, what isn’t? Let’s start off with products that are commonly found in chocolate treats that you’d want to steer clear of.

Dairy Products

Milk products have been shown to increase acne severity in teens and young adults, but they do not cause acne themselves. Though yet unclear, reasons why milk causes this reaction include increasing insulin levels and cow’s milk in particular causing the liver to produce more IGF-1, which has been linked to the increase of acne.

Refined Grains and Sugars

Refined grains and sugars include ingredients such as white flour, sugar, and honey. People constantly eating food with these products have a higher risk of getting acne. Sweeteners like sugar and maple syrup contain refined carbohydrates which increase blood sugar levels. In order to compensate, your body will also raise its insulin levels to flush out the blood sugars. As with milk, an increase in insulin levels can lead to acne or make it worse.

Those are the main ingredients commonly found in chocolate products that may increase or worsen acne. Below are other food and drink products you should look out for if you’re worried about acne.


Perhaps not directly, but alcohol could indirectly affect acne development as it messes with your body’s hormone levels and immune system functions. This can make you more vulnerable to acne.

Fast Food/High-Fat Diets

Burgers, hot dogs, and French fries all fall into this category of high-fat foods. Multiple studies confirm that these foods cause an increased risk in acne development. Reasons could include effects in gene expression and hormone levels that make you more susceptible to acne.

Foods Rich in Omega-6 Fats

Omega-6 rich products include food that contains corn and soy oils. Omega-6 fats stimulate inflammation, which may make your acne worse.

Whey Protein Powder

Whey protein powder is a dietary supplement that contains leucine and glutamine, amino acids that increase skin cell growth and division which is a factor in acne development. Aside from that, they also cause the body to produce insulin more, and increased insulin levels also cause worsening in acne.

Food That Helps You Deal With Acne

Now that you know of foods that ruin complexion, here are some that prevent inflammation!

Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 rich foods include plant oils (like canola and flaxseed oil), fortified foods (certain brands of eggs, juices and yogurt), and fishes and seafood (salmon, oysters and tuna). Contrary to Omega-6 acids, Omega-3 acids are actually anti-inflammatory and can be used to balance out your diet if you usually eat food with Omega-6 acids.

Green Tea

The polyphenols commonly found in green tea have shown to be able to reduce inflammation and decrease sebum production(a substance that blocks pores with oil and bacteria). Green tea has even been shown to ease acne breakouts when applied to the skin!

High-Fiber Foods

High-fiber products include foods such as apples, beans, and carrots. Though the exact reason why these foods help fight acne is not certain, one theory suggests that it is due to the fact that these foods help control blood sugar levels.


Nuts contain antioxidants like selenium and vitamin E, which acne-prone people usually have a deficiency in. They keep cells from damage and infection.


Curcumin, an anti-inflammatory polyphenol found in turmeric, helps moderate blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, and the growth of acne-causing bacteria. These are all good factors in reducing risk of acne.

Does Chocolate Cause Acne? Summary and Other Ways to Avoid Acne

While chocolate doesn’t cause acne necessarily, chocolatey high fat foods just might. As mentioned earlier, your diet alone does not cause acne development (or prevention of it). Most of the foods that do affect acne do so indirectly, but there’s no harm in changing your diet as to try and reduce your risk of having acne or worsening it.

Remember to keep a hygienic lifestyle by washing your face and moisturizing to avoid breakouts. During breakouts, you may try over-the-counter acne products that don’t require a prescription, and try to use less makeup. If you want to wear makeup regardless, try using oil-free products and don’t forget to wash it off at the end of the day. Avoiding the sun and reducing stress are also ways to keep your skin silky smooth. An overall healthy lifestyle is the best path to clear skin.

Written by Adrian Mark P.

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