Inflammatory Foods and Acne

As a teenage girl, I dreamt about how clear my skin was going to be in my twenties, because by then my hormones would have calmed down and it would be smooth sailing from then on, right? Well here I am at age 26, and I’m just as frustrated with my skin as ever. Turns out, turning 20 doesn’t do anything magical for your skin, much to my dismay.


I had done everything I could think of to clear up my skin. I went to the dermatologist and simplified my skincare routine. I started drinking more water. I changed my pillowcases daily, I used a fresh cloth every time I washed my face and never used my bath towels on my face anymore. I obsessively compulsively wiped off my glasses and phone with alcohol wipes multiple times throughout a single day, kept hand sanitizer on my desk and at every sink and started wearing my hair back more and more to keep germs and bacteria as far away from my face as I possibly could. I tired cleansers and toners and acne treatments galore. Nothing worked. I even went on birth control thinking that maybe it was hormonal. A lot of those things just made my skin more red and inflamed my acne even more. ( I know that sounds like a lot and it was- but keep in mind that this is over a 6 year period)


Then one day, as a particularly painful cystic pimple was forming under my skin, I had a thought… Ok, ok- maybe I was eating ice cream… From the gallon… I was already feeling guilty but I wondered if what I was eating could be a factor in my acne? I started keeping track of my diet and I realized that I hadn’t exactly been eating very responsibly. A had started eating a lot of dairy and bread on a regular basis. And you could tell by my cystic acne!

I started looking into this hypothesis that the foods I was eating on a regular basis may be causing my acne, or at least worsening it. I ran into a lot of articles and information about foods that were considered to be inflammatory. Which made a lot of sense! After all, what is acne but infected and inflamed skin? The following are foods that I cut out or decreased and I noticed results almost immediately!



By far the worst offender! Goodbye ice cream, yogurt, cream, and butter. You are all delicious, but we have to part ways. Dairy contains sugar AND hormones, making it doubly bad for your skin (and your waistline!). Dairy contains hormones, no matter how ‘organic’ it is, because milk comes from pregnant cows. Pregnant cows = hormones. Hormones can wreak havoc on not only your skin but also your weight and your mood. Dairy is also one of the most inflammatory foods out there. Well that and…


Bread. I was eating bread with sometimes up to 3 meals a day. From avocado toast to sandwiches to some garlic bread with lasagna (a twofer! dairy and gluten!) I was eating waaaaay too much bread. And I know- the subject of gluten sensitivity has been beaten to death, but again, this article is just what has been helpful for me. Turns out, a lot of people who have a dairy sensitivity, also have a gluten sensitivity, which I personally consider to be quite cruel…


Ingesting sugar is actually pretty tough on your body in general. When you eat sugar, your body breaks it down into glucose which causes your insulin levels to spike. This process is highly inflammatory and is very hard on your body. So if you eat a lot of it, your insulin levels will be spiking and your body will be working much harder than it should. It’s a good idea to keep your sugar intake to a minimum. Your skin, and body will thank you!


There is a lot of information out there regarding inflammatory foods and their effects on skin and the rest of your body as well. And again, I can’t stress enough that just because cutting out and decreasing these foods from my diet helped me feel better and helped my complexion, doesn’t mean that it will work for you. I wrote this article to get you thinking about your diet and it’s possible effects on your skin

You are what you eat!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Nothing in this article should be taken as a replacement for medical care or a doctor’s advice.

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