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 When following a good skin care regimen, it can be especially frustrating when breakouts occur. Pinpointing the cause of acne is a tedious process due to the number of factors that play a role in clear, blemish-free skin. Those suffering from acne know that getting rid of pimples and marks is not easy. The main goal should be maintaining balance within your body, which can be achieved through a healthy diet.

Certain foods raise your blood sugar more quickly than others. When your blood sugar rises quickly, it causes the body to release insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Having excess IGF-1 in your blood can cause your oil glands to produce more sebum, increasing your risks of acne and inflammation. Here is a list of acne trigger foods that you can avoid which help to calm down your breakouts.


Cow’s milk contains androgen hormones along with the proteins whey and casein. There are three main reasons why cow’s milk is not good for your skin.

  • Hormones: to keep them in a constant state of lactation, cows are given hormones that, in humans, trigger the overproduction of sebum.
  • Insulin spikes: milk increases levels of IGF-1, an insulin-like hormone that is also responsible for an overproduction of sebum.
  • Hard to digest: pasteurization, the process that removes all bacteria from milk to make it last longer, makes it harder to digest, causing an imbalance in your gut flora that may trigger acne.

 When we digest these proteins, they release a hormone called IGF-1 which is known to trigger breakouts. Sometimes the hormones released in milk can also confuse our endocrine system when interacting with our own hormones, which can cause imbalance.

The good news is that there are plenty of milk alternatives out there that can replace cow’s milk and keep acne at bay.

Dairy Alternatives

The best milk alternatives for acne prone skin are almond and nut milks. Instead of being loaded with sebum-producing hormones, almond and nut milks are loaded with antioxidants, like vitamin E, that destroy the free radicals that give you wrinkles.

Almonds are particularly good for acne-prone skin because they are also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the redness and inflammation associated with acne.

Just make sure you opt for sugar-free almond milk. Sugar triggers acne too and causes glycation (a fancy way to say it degrades collagen and gives you wrinkles). Do not let it derail all your good efforts!

Other alternatives include:

  • Almond milk
  • Cashew Milk
  • Flaxseed Milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Pea Milk
  • Coconut Milk
  • Rice Milk

Refined Sugars

Second, foods that spike insulin levels like sugar and refined grains should be limited. White bread, pasta, and sugary desserts are known culprits to trigger acne. Raised insulin levels put unnatural demands on your body to deal with the food you just ate, in turn causing a burst of inflammation throughout the body. Since inflammation is a key component in the formation of acne, you end up seeing flare-ups and an increase in the amount of acne on your face.

Too much sugar can also aggravate other skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis.

The inflammatory effects caused by spiked insulin in the body can be stopped by reducing your intake of these foods.

Refined Sugar Alternatives

The good thing is you do not have to eliminate sugar to get your skin looking great. The key is to pay attention to where the food is coming from.

There is a difference between added sugars and natural sugars. Natural sugars are a suitable alternative to refined sugars because instead of raising insulin levels, they add nutrients and value to your diet.

Natural sugars are those found in whole, unprocessed foods – such as the fructose in bananas or berries, or lactose in skim milk.

Added sugars are those not naturally in foods. They contribute calories but no essential nutrients. These include:

  • Sugar and syrup that food producers add to products like sodas, yogurt, candies, cereals, and baked goods.
  • Sugar you add yourself such as table sugar in coffee

The best way to ensure that you are eating sugar in a way that works for your body is to eat mostly whole foods. Eat lean proteins with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, and seeds, which contain a mix of different nutrients that digest more slowly and keep blood glucose levels stable.


Lastly, and most tragically for some, a common acne trigger food is chocolate. Many chocolate bars are packed with dairy and excessive amounts of sugar, which can lead to severe breakouts.

Fortunately, for all of you chocolate lovers out there cacao itself is not the problem.

Raw cacao is packed with Vitamins A, C, and E and zinc which are highly beneficial for your skin. It is the dairy and sugar often mixed in with most candy bars and desserts that have linked chocolate to serve case of acne. So, when that inevitable chocolate craving rolls around, try reaching for a high percentage dark chocolate bar instead of the acne triggering alternative. Try to avoid milk or white chocolate, which are mostly made up of all the ingredients that will lead to inflammation and agitate your acne.

Remember, Food Is Not the Enemy

It is important to remember that food is not the enemy. Food can be the solution when you eat the right ones!

The best types of foods for fighting acne are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and contain antioxidants. These foods should also be low in sugar, sodium, and fat.

Great foods for fighting acne:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Cucumber
  • Parsley
  • Tomato
  • Green tea
  • Millet
  • Quino

Everyone’s body is different, and some people react to different things. Under your doctor’s supervision, it can be helpful to experiment with your diet to see what works best for you.

Here are some of our go-to products to use when you're breaking out... 

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