Yes, sugar in your diet can affect your skin

Many people wonder whether sugar in their diet can cause acne – and, if so, how? 

The reality is that we know a lot more today about how diet affects the skin than we once did, so the advice we give has changed over time. Modern science tells us that, in fact, those old wives’ tales about breaking out after too much sugar or other unhealthy eating actually did have something to them. 

That’s why we’re here to answer your frequently asked questions about diet and acne – with what we know today. 

Your answers to common questions about acne and diet
How can eating sugar affect your skin?

The science and wisdom around acne have changed over the years. Old home remedies would tell you to change your diet to stop your breakouts. Then, over time, we switched to the over-the-counter treatments you see today and the idea that acne was purely a skin condition that could be treated topically.

Now, we know that, while hormones and bacteria on your skin cause much of the visible aspects of acne, the diverse collection of bacteria that live both on your skin and in your gut can, in fact, affect your breakouts. 

This exotic array of bacteria, by the way, is known as your microbiome. Basically, the word “microbiome” just refers to the collections of bacteria (good, bad, and neutral) that live in and on your body. Your skin has a microbiome and so does your digestive system. But how does that relate back to sugar aggravating your acne?

Well, when the gut microbiome is out of whack and the growth of bad bacteria is outpacing the good guys, you get inflammation. But that inflammation doesn’t just affect the gut. It can have ripple effects throughout the body. This inflammation can worsen conditions like acne, which already tends to be inflamed. 

In short? Now we know that acne goes more than skin deep, so while changing your diet can’t cause or end all your skin problems, a diet that feeds bad, acne-causing bacteria and increases inflammation in the body certainly won’t help the situation. That means the best way to treat acne is to approach it from both the inside and out, by balancing both your skin’s microbiome with topical treatments and your gut’s microbiome with skin-friendly probiotics. 

Still have more questions? We’ve got you covered.
Does eating sugar cause acne?

Yes and no. Processed and sugary foods can feed the kind of bacteria that cause acne and can cause inflammation throughout the body. So, while eating a few sugary treats in and of itself won’t cause you to suddenly develop acne, if acne is something you already struggle with, sugar could make it worse or cause you to breakout.

Do I need to change my diet to relieve my acne?

There are many things you can do to treat your acne, including making use of products that include topical prebiotics and postbiotics – like these acne-fighting pads (clinically proven to outperform standard OTC solutions!) – and taking skin-friendly probiotic supplements. Together, these types of solutions can help balance out your microbiome. That said, changing your diet certainly won’t hurt the situation. 

If you’ve been struggling to kick acne to the curb, we do recommend trying to add more skin-healthy foods to your routine and being conscious of what you eat. Sugar intake, in particular, is worth keeping an eye on (yes, that includes alcohol). You can also make sure you stay hydrated and add more healthy probiotics to your diet through fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, and miso.

Once my acne has been treated, can I go back to my regular diet?

If you want clear skin that stays clear, it’s generally advisable that you make those skin-friendly changes to your diet permanent. Sugars and other acne-causing foods can cause new inflammation that can trigger new breakouts, even when it seems like the coast is clear. Your body is a living, evolving thing – it’s beautiful! But that means that few things are permanent, from hair color to weird smells to acne solutions. At least not unless you do regular maintenance. So we’d have to say, it depends on what your regular diet is! But if it includes a lot of sugar and no probiotics… maybe not.

(That said, we never recommend making extreme changes to your diet and recommend talking to your doctor to figure out a dietary happy place that makes sense for you!)

Acne is no fun, but dietary changes can help get it under control

The good news is, things like adding probiotic supplements and making small dietary adjustments are really very doable! 

If you’ve been fighting acne that just won’t go away, science suggests that adding probiotics and taking care of your gut and skin microbiomes could make a huge difference. So start out on the right track today and you’ll make a habit out of these changes in no time.


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