Acne can be caused by a variety of factors, from genetics to poor hygiene to hormonal imbalance. It’s best to construct your acne treatment plan in response to the unique set of factors that cause your breakouts. Regardless of the specific causes of your breakouts, though, one of the best places to start is with your diet.

Inflammation and acne

Inflammation in your body can contribute to, and drastically increase the severity of, acne breakouts. It can cause blackheads and whiteheads to turn into pustules, papules, cysts, and other inflammatory forms of acne. Inflammation can also cause general redness, puffiness, and itchiness.

In order to fight inflammation throughout your body, it’s important to cut down on foods that cause inflammation, and to eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods.

Hormone imbalance and acne

Some foods can also contribute to hormone imbalances, one of the central causes of hormonal acne. Refined carbohydrates and sugary foods, for example, can cause your body to produce too much androgen, which in turn causes your body to produce an excess of sebum. This leads to clogged pores, oily skin, and acne.

Unsurprisingly, the foods that trigger hormone imbalance tend to be the same ones that cause inflammation!

Acne-causing foods to avoid:

  1. Refined carbohydrates (white bread, bagels, pizza, white rice and noodles, foods that contain white flour): These foods cause insulin spikes, trigger inflammation, and contribute to hormonal imbalance.
  2. Sugary foods (soda, candy bars, fruit juice, sweet pastries and cakes): These foods cause insulin spikes, inflammation, and hormonal imbalance.
  3. Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese): These foods trigger insulin spikes and contribute to inflammation.
  4. Fried foods (doughnuts, fast food, dumplings): These foods trigger insulin spikes, contribute to inflammation, and cause hormonal imbalance.
  5. Oils that are rich in Omega-6 fats (soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil): It’s important to get the right ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. Many of the plant oils and fats out there have healthy ratios of these fats. For instance, olive oil, walnut oil, and avocado oil all contain healthy amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids in comparison to Omega-6 fatty acids. Make sure to opt for these, healthy oils where possible, and to avoid those that are abundant in Omega-6 acids.

Skin-healthy foods to include in your diet:

It may seem like a huge hassle to cut foods like white flour and dairy out of your diet, but even swapping out these foods for similar, healthier ones can make a huge difference for your skin. You can swap out the foods on the above list for the foods below:

  1. Unrefined carbohydrates (brown rice, whole-wheat flour, pasta and noodles made with ancient grains)
  2. Natural sweeteners in healthy portions (honey, agave syrup)
  3. Dairy alternatives (soy milk, almond milk, oat milk)
  4. Grilled or broiled foods: Crispy foods are delicious, but you don’t need to fry the life out of a potato to make it crispy! Experiment with different, healthier cooking methods to achieve mouth-watering results without compromising your skin’s health.
  5. Oils and foods that are rich in Omega-3 fats (avocado, walnuts, olive oil, seafood)

Camille Bond is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has interned in the film industry and the publishing industry, as well as for a political campaign. When it comes to the world of beauty and wellness, she loves researching natural skincare brands, concocting DIY recipes, and discovering new mediation techniques!