20 Common Foods You Didn’t Know Can Be Bad for Your Skin

Written By Jill Taylor

Many people are concerned about having healthy skin, and while we often rely on skincare products, our diet plays a crucial role, too. Surprisingly, some foods can contribute to acne, dryness, and premature aging. Here are 20 common foods that can negatively impact your skin.

Dairy Products

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The high levels of hormones in dairy can trigger acne. The New York Times says that “some evidence suggests that cutting back on certain dairy products may help clear up your acne.” Proteins from milk can also cause inflammation, and dairy can increase insulin levels, which leads to more oily skin.


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We all love a sweet treat every now and again, but eating too much sugar can damage collagen and elastin, which causes premature aging! A high sugar intake is also linked to acne breakouts, and eating sugary foods can cause spikes in your blood sugar, resulting in inflammation.

White Bread

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If you want clear skin, steer clear of white bread! White bread has a high glycemic index, which means that it can increase your blood sugar. Eating white bread can lead to more oily skin and clogged pores. Refined carbs like bread can also aggravate acne.

Fried Foods

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It’s no secret that fried foods aren’t good for you, but did you know they’re also bad for your skin? Fried foods are high in unhealthy fats that can lead to inflammation. They can also cause oxidative stress on the skin and may result in clogged pores and acne.


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Bad news for the chocoholics out there! Chocolate often contains sugar and dairy, and both of these can trigger acne. The high-fat content in chocolate can also contribute to your skin being inflamed. Some chocolates may contain additives, too, which are bad for skin health.


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Drinking alcohol dehydrates the skin and causes it to look dull. According to Verywell Health, “alcohol consumption can lead to swelling in your face and other parts of the body due to dehydration and fluid retention.” Sugary alcoholic drinks can also make acne worse.

Spicy Foods

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Spicy foods can be bad for your skin in many ways. They can increase blood flow to the skin and make it more sensitive. They can also make you sweat more, which can lead to blocked pores. Spicy foods can also cause rosacea flare-ups!


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Some people rely on coffee to wake them up in the mornings, but is it worth it when we consider its effects on our skin? Coffee is known to increase cortisol levels, which may cause acne. It can also disrupt sleep, preventing skin from repairing itself properly.


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Excessive salt consumption can cause water retention, which makes your face look puffy. Salt can also cause your face to appear dull and dry, and the high levels of sodium in salt can make acne worse. Try to lower your salt intake to improve your skin.


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Don’t be a shellfish; think about your skin! Shellfish’s high iodine content can be bad for your skin, triggering acne. The high cholesterol levels in this food may also affect the health of your skin. Allergic reactions are common with shellfish, too, and this can cause rashes and hives.

Red Meat

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Eating red meat can cause clogged pores, acne, and inflammation due to its high levels of saturated fat. Red meat also contains advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that can age skin. The Guardian reports that “eating too much red meat and not enough fruit and vegetables could increase your body’s ‘biological age’.”


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Limit the amount of soy in your diet if you crave healthy skin! Soy can give you acne, as it can disrupt your hormone levels, and it also contains phytoestrogens that may negatively affect the health of your skin. Highly processed soy products can be especially detrimental to your skin!

Processed Meats

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With high levels of sodium and preservatives, processed meats like sausages, bacon, salami, ham, and canned meat can cause inflammation, water retention, and puffiness. Processed meats can also negatively affect your skin due to the nitrates they contain, which can damage skin cells.

Citrus Fruits

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Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits, can cause skin irritation and make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. The high amount of acid in these fruits can also lead to rashes and dryness. Be careful how much citrus fruit you eat, or else your skin might start resembling orange peel!

Artificial Sweeteners

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Artificial sweeteners are known to have negative impacts on your gut health, and this can subsequently affect your skin. Sweeteners are linked to inflammation, too. Using artificial sweeteners may also lead to cravings for sugary foods, which will make your skin worse. It’s a vicious cycle!

Soda and Energy Drinks

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Acne is often caused by spiking blood sugar levels from drinking soda and energy drinks, and the artificial ingredients in some of these drinks can harm your skin more. Also, Fox News suggests that “the caffeine found in soda can dehydrate the skin, emphasizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”

Fast Food

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We all know fast food is bad for us in many ways, including our skin! It’s high in unhealthy fats and sugars and often contains different preservatives and additives. These things harm your skin and cause blocked pores and acne.

Ice Cream

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‘I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!’ The damage ice cream can have on your skin will definitely make you scream. The double threat of dairy and sugar, as well as the combination of additives and artificial flavors, can trigger acne and lead to inflammation and sensitive skin.


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It’s a no-brainer to avoid gluten if you’re intolerant, but even if you’re not, gluten can still be bad for your skin. Eating gluten can cause inflammation and may lead to skin conditions like eczema. Also, gluten is often found in processed foods that are high in sugar and fat.


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Tomatoes are healthy, right? Yes, but they can be harmful to some people’s skin. The high acidity in tomatoes can irritate some skin types, and they can sometimes trigger allergic reactions and rashes. Tomatoes may also make conditions like eczema and rosacea worse.

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