Can Coffee Be The Cause Of Acne?


Almost 60% of people in the USA drink coffee every single day, and over 17 million Americans suffer from acne. If you fit into both demographics, you’ve probably wondered whether there was a link between them. You’ve probably met someone who said that quitting their daily caffeine habit cleared up their skin. So, can you believe what they say? Should you ditch your cup of java? Here we answer the key question “can coffee cause acne?”

Looking At The Research

It appears that there is a relationship between acne and coffee. However, it’s a fairly complicated one. Let’s make it quite clear from the start, coffee won’t give you acne. However, the downside is, it could make existing acne worse. There are several factors at play to determine the effect that coffee will have on your skin, including the amount you consume and what you put in it. Let’s take a look at some of those factors.

How Does Caffeine Affect Acne?

Coffee is full of caffeine, which gives you a stimulating boost but also increases your body’s natural stress response. A single large cup can increase your stress response two-fold. While stress won’t cause acne, it worsens any existing outbreaks. Cortisol and other stress hormones make your sebaceous glands produce more oil. This can lead to outbreaks.

Also, due to the stimulating effects of caffeine, drinking excessive amounts of coffee or drinking a cup at night could affect your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep increases stress and this, in turn, worsens your acne. You could try reducing the amount of coffee you drink or stop drinking caffeine-containing beverages in the afternoon to guard against sleep issues.

Does Milk Affect Acne?

Many of us like to add a splash of milk to our cup of coffee. Some of us like a lot more milk in the form of a latte or cappuccino. However, milk has been linked to acne outbreaks. Once study examined the relationship between acne and milk and found that people who consume more milk are more likely to suffer from outbreaks. It’s believed that this is due to the hormones found in milk. Non-fat milk has a more severe impact that low-fat or full-fat milk. Women drinking at least 2 servings on non-fat milk per day have a 22% chance of developing severe acne and a 44% greater chance of developing nodular or cystic acne than women drinking just a single glass of non-fat milk per day.

Will Sugar Trigger A Breakout?

Do you add sugar to your cup of coffee? If so, this may be causing you a problem. Lots of research has been carried out into acne and sugar consumption and clear evidence shows that diets which contain a large sugar intake result in larger amounts of insulin being released as well as IGF-1. This hormone triggers acne development. If you then pair a sugary coffee with a sweet snack such as a pastry, you could be causing even more issues. Carbohydrate rich diets with a high GI value also increase IGF-1 levels, triggering breakouts.

Isn’t Coffee An Antioxidant? Shouldn’t That Help?

This is where it gets more complex. Coffee is, indeed, a rich source of antioxidants and antioxidants are known to improve skin condition. Unfortunately, there is only limited research available at the moment to determine the impact of antioxidants in coffee on acne.

Do I Need To Stop Drinking Coffee?

As we’ve already pointed out, coffee won’t give you acne. However, if you already suffer from acne breakouts and drink a lot of coffee, particularly if it’s full of sugar and milk, you could worsen your skin problems. That doesn’t mean you need to stop drinking coffee completely. You can try a few things to improve your skin without stopping your caffeine intake completely.

  • Don’t use sugary syrups or refined sugar in your coffee. Use a sweetener such as stevia instead.
  • Use non-dairy milks such as coconut or almond milk.
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages during the afternoon and evening.
  • Try drinking decaffeinated coffee.
  • Avoid sugary pastries and snacks with your coffee.

Everybody has a different reaction to coffee. There’s only one true way of knowing whether coffee is worsening your acne, and that is to cut it out of your diet for a week or two to see if your skin gets better. Afterwards, you can reintroduce it slowly to monitor the effect on your acne.

If you’re still suffering from acne after you’ve tried our expert tips, it’s time to get help from a dermatologist. Acne can be treated, it’s just a matter of getting the right medical advice and treatment. With today’s medical advancements, there’s no need to go on suffering, so see your doctor today and get the help that you need to improve your skin condition.


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