Can Chocolate Cause Acne? What the Research Says
Chocolate is a food that many of us love to snack on. But can chocolate cause acne? As one of the leading cosmetics companies for men, we're going to answer any questions that you might have about chocolate and acne. Let's get started!
Chocolate and Acne
There’s no denying that chocolate tastes delicious. At the same time, there are many reasons you might try to avoid it or cut down on how much chocolate you eat. One popular reason many people skip out on chocolate is because it’s commonly associated with acne. From breakouts to blemishes, chocolate is often blamed for causing breakouts. But what about chocolate could possibly cause acne? Is it the fat? The dairy? The sugar? Today, the Stryx team will break down whether or not science has determined if there’s a link between chocolate and acne and answer any questions you might have.
Does Chocolate Cause Acne?
Let’s get the most important question out of the way first. Simply put, it’s hard to have a point-blank answer, despite decades of research. At first glance, that seems preposterous: surely after years of studies, there would be a conclusive answer, right?
Not exactly. You see, many studies from years ago that investigated chocolate and acne would use both chocolate bars and control bars. The problem was that the control bars had just as much (or more!) sugar than the chocolate bars. This is important because research strongly points to high-glycemic foods (which are high in refined carbs and sugars) causing acne problems. Foods with a high glycemic index increase the amount of blood sugar, which causes an insulin spike that affects hormones. This in turn leads to the production of more sebum, leading to more acne. (More on that later!) Because of that, there were many inconsistencies in the chocolate and acne debate--was it sugar, or was it the chocolate?
In more recent years, studies have been conducted with differing results. For example, an American Family Physician study found that there was a “statistically significant increase” in acne when college students ate the same amount of chocolate as compared to their counterparts who had jelly beans. On the other hand, a 2012 study where over 40 teenagers kept a food diary and were examined by a dermatologist led to no connection to chocolate causing acne. However, the majority of recent studies seem to indicate that chocolate, in and of itself, doesn’t directly cause acne. Of course, more research needs to be done with bigger, more diverse, sample groups.
Does Cocoa Powder Cause Acne?
Credit: Panay News
So maybe eating that chocolate bar won’t lead to a breakout over the weekend. So what about cocoa powder? After all, cocoa powder is in chocolate, so could that be the culprit? Again, the answer isn’t that black-and-white. For men with acne-prone skin, one study showed that regularly eating 99% dark chocolate led to an increase in acne. However, it’s worth noting that they already had regular acne breakouts prior to this.
However, most studies that have so far focused on just cocoa powder and its possible link to acne have had relatively small sample sizes, increasing the likelihood of errors. This means that, just as with chocolate, more studies need to be done to come to a conclusive answer.
Is Eating Chocolate Bad For Your Skin?
So what’s the takeaway from this? Can you eat chocolate and not worry about how you’ll wake up tomorrow? The chocolate that we tend to eat (such as white chocolate or milk chocolate) is often high in fat as well as refined sugars, which in turn can potentially cause an acne breakout. Since most of the research is so far inconclusive and points toward it not being the chocolate itself--but rather the high amounts of sugar--possibly causing a breakout, not all chocolate is bad for the skin. As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid chocolates high in sugar and opt for dark chocolate, or scale down on high-sugar foods for the rest of the day.
Simply put, acne is a complex, multifaceted topic that influences us all differently, and whether or not chocolate is bad for your skin often comes down to you. Even though researchers have been looking for a direct link for over half a century, it’s highly unlikely and hard to say that chocolate alone directly causes acne. That said, it’s a little more complicated than writing off diet as playing any role in acne.
What Foods Cause Acne?
Let’s make one thing clear: we’re not saying that diet plays no role in causing acne. Like we mentioned earlier, research shows that high-glycemic foods tend to lead to breakouts. A food’s “glycemic index”, which is ranked on a scale of 1 to 100, basically determines how fast the carbs in the food can be absorbed into your blood. A high glycemic index is anything over 70, and tends to include most processed foods such as white bread, white rice, white potatoes, packaged cereals, baked goods, and candies--foods common in a Western diet! The higher the GI of these foods, the more quickly your blood sugar and insulin levels will spike, leading to an increase in sebum production.
To help avoid causing acne breakouts by controlling your diet, opt for foods that are at the lower end of the glycemic index, which include foods like whole grains (with an average GI of 46) or chickpeas and lentils ( around a GI of 30). Other good foods that won’t lead to breakouts include sweet potatoes and fruits. In other words, having a well-rounded diet with plenty of fruits and veggies is the best--not just for acne, but for an overall healthier life! With a little bit of planning and monitoring, you can easily avoid foods that can lead to an acne breakout!
How You Can Prevent and Treat Acne
While avoiding foods with a high GI can help minimize future outbreaks, that’s often not enough if you already have acne-prone skin. An important step to treating acne includes cleaning and moisturizing your skin thoroughly. First, get a good gel cleanser--ideally not a generic one!--and use some warm water to wash your face at least twice a day. A good moisturizer is just as key, as it hydrates your skin and balances out your oil glands, especially when combined with other acne treatments. Prefer a tinted moisturizer to help balance out your skin tone? We’ve got you covered.
Even though you may have the perfect skincare regimen in place, sometimes a pimple or blackhead will pop up when you least expect it. Should that happen, one of the quickest ways to deal with it is to use a concealer, which can cover up pimples, moles, and other breakouts. At Stryx, we provide a portable concealer tool for men in different shades, to help cover up any breakouts you may have and give you that extra boost of confidence for the day.
To sum it up, with a combination of a balanced diet, a good skincare regimen, and our men’s makeup options here at Stryx, tackling acne hands-on has never been easier!