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Does Junk Food Cause Acne? (Everything You Need to Know)

It's a question that acne sufferers have long asked: Does junk food cause acne? While the answer is more complex than a simple yes or no, evidence suggests that diet and acne are not unrelated.

Decades ago, the relationship between diet and acne was dismissed, but more recent scientific findings have begun to draw a connection. Consuming foods high in sugar and fats, like those found in many junk foods, can have numerous effects on the body.

But how exactly does it interact with our skin? This question requires a deeper look into our bodily systems, where we will explore the hormonal and inflammatory responses to the food we eat.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • There's a complex relationship between diet and acne, with evidence suggesting high sugar and carbohydrate intake can contribute to acne.

  • Acne is multifaceted, influenced not just by diet but also by hormonal fluctuations, inflammation, and individual skin characteristics.

  • While some foods may contribute to acne, others, including those rich in potent antioxidants, can support skin health.

  • A reliable skincare routine, such as that offered by Exposed Skin Care, can complement dietary choices in managing acne and maintaining healthy skin.

Table filled with unhealthy food

The Link Between Diet and Acne

The Role of Hormones and Inflammation

To understand how junk food could potentially cause acne, it's crucial to know what triggers acne in the first place. In simple terms, acne occurs when the pores in your skin are blocked by excess oil (sebum) and dead skin cells. Hormones in the body control sebum production.

Eating junk food, especially those high in sugar causes a spike in our blood sugar levels. This surge signals the body to release insulin, which triggers a cascade of hormonal responses, including an increase in the hormones that stimulate oil glands to produce more sebum.

The excess oil and dead skin cells can clog pores, leading to acne breakouts. Simultaneously, a diet high in sugar and processed foods can induce inflammation in the body. Acne itself is an inflammatory condition, so it’s reasonable to conclude that diet may exacerbate acne symptoms.

High Glycemic Foods and Acne

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that diets high in glycemic index foods (foods that spike blood sugar levels rapidly) were associated with increased acne risk. Foods high in the glycemic index typically include junk food like chips, sodas, cookies, cakes, and certain types of bread and pasta.

Woman taking donut from refrigirator

Frequently consuming these high-glycemic foods can lead to insulin resistance over time. The body responds by producing even more insulin, leading to higher sebum production, promoting the growth of skin cells, and causing inflammation.

Does Eating Junk Food Really Cause Acne?

With the scientific process, it's important to differentiate correlation from causation. Though certain foods have been linked to acne, much research's still needed to fully establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

The connection between junk food and pimples may be evident, but we need more in-depth studies to determine if junk food causes acne.

However, we can confidently state that consistently eating junk food isn't good for your skin health overall. It may contribute to many skin problems, including inflammation, excess oil production, and premature aging.

Common Culprits: Foods to Avoid

Here are some common junk foods that are associated with acne. It’s worth noting that not everyone's skin will react the same way to these foods. Some people might be more sensitive, while others can eat these without any noticeable effect on their skin.

  • Fried foods: Eating fried chicken, fries, or any other oil-saturated food can contribute to increased oil production in the skin.

Table of people eating fast food fries

  • Sugar-laden foods: Cakes, candies, and ice cream are just a few examples of sugar-packed foods that can trigger acne.

  • Milk Chocolate: Though the connection between chocolate and acne is disputed, it’s often the sugar and milk added to milk chocolate that's the problem.

  • Processed Foods: Foods like deli meats, chips, and pre-packaged meals often contain many additives that can trigger inflammation in the body.

  • Fast Food: A study found that consuming fast food regularly was linked to a 43% increased risk of developing acne.

How Can You Help Your Skin?

While we can't control all the factors contributing to acne, like genetics and hormonal fluctuations, we can control our diet. Here are some ways you can help keep your skin clear:

  • Avoid foods high in sugar and processed sugars: Opt for fresh fruits when you crave something sweet.

  • Limit high glycemic foods: Choose whole grains and vegetables, which are digested more slowly and don't cause a drastic spike in blood sugar.

  • Keep a food diary: Track what you eat and how your skin reacts. This can help you identify any foods you’re sensitive to that might exacerbate your acne.

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help maintain a healthy skin barrier and flush out toxins.

  • Eat a Balanced Diet: Incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your diet. These foods contain potent antioxidants and other ingredients that will help keep your skin healthy and glowing.

Woman on couch eating vegetables

Using Exposed Skin Care for Acne Management

Managing such a complex condition as acne, usually influenced by various factors, including hormonal imbalance, requires more than dietary changes. Exposed Skin Care products are designed to help clear skin blemishes and maintain a healthy complexion.

Exposed Skin Care Basic Kit

The benefits of these products include:

  • Comprehensive Acne Treatment: It targets existing acne lesions and prevents future breakouts. This addresses the risk of acne usually associated with foods that can cause acne.

  • Natural Ingredients: The products include natural extracts that reduce inflammation, unclog pores, and make skin radiant.

  • Potent Additives: Some items in their range contain potent ingredients that control skin oils, thus minimizing the impact on acne.

  • Science Approved: Exposed Skin Care is developed by a team of experts, ensuring their products are safe and effective.

In conclusion, using Exposed Skin Care products could benefit your acne management routine, especially if you're prone to acne.


Our exploration into the question, "Does junk food cause acne?" highlights the intricate relationship between our diet and skin health. While the scientific consensus is still in progress, there's no denying that certain foods can trigger acne in some individuals.

Foods high in sugars, often associated with acne, along with diets high in carbohydrates and processed sugars, may contribute to an inflammatory response in the body, thereby exacerbating acne. Yet, it's essential to remember that acne isn't just about what you eat.

 It is a multifaceted condition that involves hormonal fluctuations, inflammation, and individual skin characteristics. It's also crucial to be aware that not all foods you think are 'bad' for acne are necessarily so.

In your journey towards clear skin, consider holistic strategies that involve a balanced diet, a healthy lifestyle, and targeted skincare treatments, such as Exposed Skin Care. Its line of products is designed to address acne's root causes, help clear blemishes, and maintain a healthy complexion.

In conclusion, while the link between junk food and acne is complex and still under research, it's clear that our food can significantly impact our skin health. So, making mindful dietary choices and a reliable skincare routine can set the foundation for a healthier, acne-free life.


Q: Does eating chocolate cause acne?

A: The debate around chocolate and acne continues. While chocolate per se isn't proven to cause acne, milk chocolate, which is high in sugar and dairy, has been linked to acne in some studies. On the other hand, dark chocolate, high in antioxidants, may not have the same effect.

Q: Can eating burgers cause pimples?

A: While there's no direct evidence that eating a burger will instantly cause pimples, fast food items like burgers are often high in processed sugars, unhealthy fats, and high-glycemic carbohydrates. These can potentially impact blood sugar levels and inflammation in the body, both of which can contribute to acne.

Q: Is acne usually associated with certain foods?

A: Yes, foods high in sugar, unhealthy fats, dairy products, and those with a high glycemic index have been associated with acne. However, it's important to note that everyone is different, and foods that trigger acne in one person may not have the same effect on another.

Q: Does sugar and dairy cause acne?

A: Research suggests that diets high in sugar and certain types of dairy may be linked to acne. Sugar contributes to inflammation and high insulin levels, while some dairy products may affect hormones that control sebum production.