Nutrition Edit

Five common questions answered on acne

Fed up with trying and testing so many skincare products for acne and not seeing the results? Well treating the skin for acne may sound like it’s complicated – but with a few lifestyle and diet changes, we can have you on the road to clear skin in no time. We asked our nutritionist and skin researcher what causes acne, how to get rid of acne and her top tips that can be incorporated into your routines today. Get ready to maximise your skincare results and banish problem skin for good. 

What causes acne?

Before we talk about how to get rid of acne, it’s important to know what can contribute to this skin concern. There are a few causes, let’s touch on the most common, which are:

  • Excess sebum
  • Skin hyperkeratinisation (thickening of the skin)
  • Bacteria
  • Hormonal imbalance

Diet and lifestyle can play a role in all these factors, The good news is that there are things within your control that can help, which we’ll dive into a bit later. 

Can my diet impact acne?

It’s important to note that everybody is unique and will experience different skin changes to others. You may notice certain foods that trigger a breakout but there are also many myths surrounding this topic.

One of the common myths on diet and acne is that chocolate contributes to breakouts. However, it’s more than likely milk in chocolate that is problematic for your skin. Research suggests that dairy products may trigger or promote a breakout in some people. Dairy may be problematic because it may disrupt hormones in the body.

Dairy is found in many different foods that you may eat every day including milk, butter, yoghurt, and milk chocolate. The best way to test this is to avoid dairy for a few weeks and note any changes to your skin. If you suffer cyclical breakouts, you should try this for one month. If you have a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is a better alternative because it doesn’t contain dairy.

High sugar diets including pastries, biscuits, sweets can also imbalance the bacteria in the skin, an imbalance of the bacteria can lead to acne, so we recommend keeping sugar to a minimum. 

What foods should I look for when treating acne and why?

What you put into your body, really does have an impact on your skin. Remember your skin is a two-sided organ, if you only treat the outside of the skin with topical skincare and treatments, you’re only doing 50% of the job. By feeding the skin from the inside, you are nourishing the skin over the entire body and achieving 100% skincare.

With this in mind, vitamin A should be your best friend when looking to support acne, as it can help control sebum and also balances the thickening of the skin. Foods that contain vitamin A are sweet potato, butternut squash, leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, and carrots.

Additionally, beneficial bacteria can have a remarkable impact on the skin as it helps balance the bacteria on your skin. You can consume beneficial bacteria through probiotics and fermented foods including kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, and probiotic yoghurt.

Another exceptional food source for the skin are omega fatty acids. The omegas work as an anti-inflammatory mechanism and can help calm any redness that sometimes comes with acne. Add oily fish such as salmon and mackerel for your lunch or dinner. In addition, vitamin C and zinc help contribute to healing. Add sweet yellow peppers, broccoli, kale to your meals for your vitamin C boost. As well as nuts, seeds, and legumes for your zinc intake.

Does stress play a part in acne?

Stress can be a contributing factor in hormonal balance and often when we’re stressed, there’s more sebum production. It’s believed that the acne may be caused by bacteria feeding on sebum. Lifestyle, meditation, and mindfulness practice may help to reduce stress levels if you find that stress contributes to your acne.

What are three tips I can do to help prevent acne?

So, what is the best acne treatment? Our skin researchers have highlighted three tips below for your clear skin journey.


Tip 1. Keep a diary

The good news is there are things you can implement into your routines to help your skin. Start by keeping a diary to observe any trends and triggers for you. If it’s diet, change your diet. If it’s stress, manage your stress levels. Even hormones which are completely normal can be managed through diet and lifestyle.

Tip 2. Choose the right foods

Foods that heal

As part of your diet, make sure you are eating 2-3 portions of fatty acids from S-M-A-S-H fish. Packed full of skin-glowing ingredients and key nutrients, these include: 






Fruits for Antioxidants

Antioxidants can help play a part in supporting the skin from further oxidative stress and free radicals. These can be consumed from Blueberries, Strawberries, Goji berries, Blackberries and Raspberries. They can be easily added to your breakfast in the morning or as a delicious healthy snack.

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients and have a detoxification impact. Cruciferous vegetables include Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussel sprouts, Cauliflower, Collard greens. Add some of these vegetables to your lunch or dinner.

Food that harm: 

Sugar - High sugar diets can imbalance the bacteria in the skin, so we recommend avoiding high sugar foods such as cakes, biscuits, milk chocolate, and fast food.

Dairy - Due to a hormone in dairy products, research has shown this has been linked to acne. Avoiding dairy foods could potentially help clear your acne up. Dairy products include milk, cheese, and butter.

Alcohol - Alcohol can impact your hormone levels and research shows that hormones can directly impact signs of acne.

Tip 3. Look for a supplement programme to target problem skin

Try a supplement programme containing key vitamins including vitamins A, C, E, and phytonutrients that feed all areas of the skin, without any harsh chemicals.

There are many different things that can cause acne but once you know what to change in terms of your diet and lifestyle, it can be much easier to tackle. Incorporate some of our nutritionists’ tips and you’ll soon be on your way to banishing problem skin for good.