3 Foods to Avoid If You Struggle With Acne, According to a Dermatologist

Acne at any age can take an emotional toll. So when there's literally anything we can do to prevent it, we listen up. We all know by now that environment and genetics are contributing factors, but diet also plays a pretty major role in our skin’s fate. Amazing news, because this means we have the power to take steps to keep at least some breakouts from rearing their ugly head. We talked to an expert to see just what foods we should be avoiding in order to keep our skin clear.

Meet the Expert

Bobby Buka M.D., J.D. is a certified dermatologist and CEO of The Dermatology Specialists. With over ten years of experience, Buka has provided care to patients and is a contributing founder and chief science officer to skincare brand First Aid Beauty.

Skim Milk

Woman pouring milk into her coffee
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According to New York dermatologist Dr. Bobby Buka, “Skim milk can make acne worse. It contains bovine growth hormones that are fat-dissolvable. Since there’s no fat in skim milk, they don’t dissolve. Those hormones, left in the body, can result in acne.” Yikes, time to reconsider our coffee order. 


Person slicing banana
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Foods that score high on Harvard's glycemic index chart are also no-nos when it comes to a blemish-free existence. Bananas are right up there, scoring a whopping 62—the highest glycemic score possible is 100. Enjoy a banana smoothie every morning? Don’t beat yourself up about it. We do, too. There are health benefits to eating bananas (especially in the morning), but if clear skin isn’t your current reality, maybe ditch the bananas for a while and see if there’s a noticeable difference. They could be contributing to your acne.

Specialty Coffees

Woman holding specialty coffee
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Another culprit of breakouts becomes a much more prominent menu threat in the fall—those flavored holiday lattes and cappuccinos. Not only because these specialty drinks have milk, but they also have sky-high sugar content—which we've already exposed as aggravators for all sorts of skin issues. Rule of thumb: If it tastes like a dessert, it will affect your body like a dessert. Stick to low-glycemic foods like grapefruit, prunes, and hummus for a midday pick-me-up; your body will thank you. Plus, you won't have that annoying sugar crash after.

Bonus Food: Candy

Buka did drop some good news on us, sharing, “There is no link between acne and chocolate. It was totally disproven in a small blind trial back in 2008 and again in later trials.” Don’t digest this as a hall pass to gorge on candy. Buka emphasizes, “Eating something like Sour Patch Kids is probably the worst thing you can do for your skin.” (But who needs super sour candy when Mast Brothers Sea Salt Dark Chocolate bars, $8, exist?)

foods that cause acne
 Emily Roberts/Byrdie

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