The Worst Foods for Your Skin

Did you know that what you eat makes its way to your skin? If you eat a greasy burger or an ice cream sundae, it will affect your complexion one way or another. Over time, ingesting processed food will take a toll on your skin and your overall health. Your skin covers your entire body and produces an outward reflection of what is going on internally. 

What Are The Worst Foods For Your Skin?

We should all strive to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge occasionally. Moderation is the key. However, if you’ve discovered that your cheat day food selections are causing your skin to break out, you may need to re-think your choices. Below are some of the worst foods for your skin that are worth eliminating from your diet.

If it’s fried and greasy, it's likely to lead to inflammation and possibly irritate your skin. The grease also has the potential to clog your pores which will lead to acne breakouts. Dairy is another common culprit that can lead to acne flare ups. Dermatologists believe this is due to hormones like progesterone which can be found in cow's milk. Progesterone converts to dihydrotestosterone which will then overstimulate oil glands, thus causing those prone to acne to break out. If you do decide to eliminate dairy from your diet, just be sure to include a vitamin D supplement into your daily regimen.  


Another culprit for your skin troubles could be the dehydrating effects alcohol has on the skin. Drinking alcohol in excess has been shown to not only dehydrate and damage the body but also cause it to age faster than normal. 

How Does Bad Food Affect Your Skin?

When it comes to your skin, there aren’t enough beauty products or hygiene regimens that can compensate for a poor diet. As previously mentioned, there are a multitude of foods that can cause your skin to become dry, wrinkled, or acne-prone. Research has shown that diet can significantly impact the health of your skin. 

High Glycemic Foods

Foods high in sugar content (high-glycemic foods) also increase inflammation within your body that can trigger acne flare ups. High glycemic foods can lead to a wrinkled and pale appearance. Additionally, a diet deprived of calcium, folic acid, niacin, and other vitamins will impact your skin's tone. Too much fatty meat can stimulate hormone production which leads to acne. Nitrate high foods such as bacon have been linked to inflammation and wrinkles as well as the high sodium content found in bacon. Artificial sweeteners, just like sugar, have been shown to weaken the strength and flexibility of collagen which gives the skin a more aged appearance. Whey protein has been linked to acne because it ultimately leads to increased sebum production. Again, the dehydration effects from alcohol will lead to dry irritated skin, which becomes easily wrinkled. 

What Foods Are Bad For Acne?

Your diet is not the only thing potentially causing your acne. Lifestyle and genetics are also significant contributors. However, you can help your situation by being more cautious of what you eat. 

Again, milk is at the top of the list, specifically skim milk. Scientists theorized that this is due to hormones passed into your bloodstream through the milk of pregnant cows. Sugar and carbs will trigger your body to produce more insulin which coincidentally affects other hormones in your body that produce oil in your skin. The more oily your skin, the more likely you are to have acne breakouts. Unfortunately, chocolate is another pimple producer. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why chocolate causes such a skin reaction, but studies have concluded that those who eat chocolate are more likely to suffer from acne. Lastly, remember to be cautious of the greasy, oily foods, as the oil from the deep fryer can stick to your hair follicles, clog your pores, which leads to breakouts.  

Is Processed Food Bad For Your Skin?

Processed food is bad for your skin because it is taken so far from its natural state. Chemicals are added to these foods to increase their shelf sustainability which in turn makes them harder to digest. This creates inflammation and digestive issues which are shown through the skin. These foods are some of the top contributors to disease and sadly the majority of what Americans eat. 

Processed foods are also chemically engineered to keep you craving them. These highly processed and refined foods that you continuously crave begin to wear down the collagen and elasticity of your skin over time. As your skin loses its elasticity, it begins to wrinkle and sag. Additionally, the inflammation brought on from a diet high in processed foods exacerbates pre-existing skin conditions such as acne or rosacea.  

Does Unhealthy Food Advance Skin Aging?

When you think of skin health, most people automatically think about limiting sun exposure. However, another contributing factor to skin aging is advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGE’s are created through the combination of fats, proteins, and sugar. Below are some foods that you may want to seek substitutes for if you're concerned with your skin's aged appearance.  


French fries are a salty, fried delicacy. However, when fried in oil, the free radicals (which are harmful to your skin) weaken the skin's elasticity over time. Also, the high salt content in the fries will cause dehydration which also leads to wrinkly skin. High glycemic index foods like refined carbs will cause inflammation within your body. This inflammation is linked to the process of aging.  


Margarine is also linked to skin damage due to the high amounts of hydrogenated oils, which leave your skin less protected against ultraviolet radiation. Over time, this will also damage your skin's collagen and elasticity. Processed meats such as sausage, bacon, pepperoni, and other pork products have also been linked to damaging collagen and aging your skin more rapidly. It is not easy to go against the grains of society but you may want to consider how unhealthy food and aging play a part in your life and what steps may help to improve your skin and overall health. 

Is Chocolate Bad For Your Skin?

If you find yourself wondering whether or not your chocolate addiction is bad for you or if  chocolate is bad for your skin, you may want to examine this issue for yourself further. Research continues to determine whether or not chocolate is responsible for acne breakouts. Some people, when they eat chocolate, immediately have a breakout while others see no negative reactions. Chocolate in its pure form is not harmful but actually helpful to the body. 

Dark chocolate especially is widely known for its powerful antioxidant properties. It contains high levels of flavonoids called anthocyanidin and epicatechins which are very beneficial at fighting free radicals that damage DNA and advance the aging process. Chocolate also contains caffeine which has benefits to the body as well. Cocoa beans are also full of serotonin, dopamine, and phenylethylamine, which encourage positive moods and happiness. 

Chocolate alone is great for the body, but, the darker the better. It’s the added ingredients that wreak the most havoc. Chocolate candy contains large amounts of fats, sugar, and dairy which are linked to acne. The average American consumes 4.5 kg of chocolate candy per year with many admitting they eat it daily. Consuming large quantities of chocolate along with other unhealthy foods will lead to more than just unhealthy skin.

Does Chocolate Affect Acne-Prone Skin?

As research continues on this subject, it is evident that chocolate affects everyone’s skin differently. Dairy could also be another thing causing reactions with the skin as well as sugar. Sugar disrupts the body’s helpful bacteria in the gut which causes an influx of harmful bacteria. If you consume sugary things in mass quantities, your diet will reflect that in your skin. If you are struggling with acne you may consider taking a break from eating chocolate candy and sugar in general, to see if it brings about positive changes in your skin. To see if chocolate affects you, you could eliminate it from your diet for a little while. Doing so for at least three months will give you a better understanding of your body and how it reacts to chocolate and sugar. 

Is Caffeine Bad For Your Skin?

Caffeine has both negative and positive effects on the skin. Research shows that in moderation, caffeine helps to provide the body with a boost of energy. Coffee also contains antioxidants, polyphenols, and anti-inflammatory compounds. There are also some negative aspects of coffee. It is a diuretic that depletes water from your cells, causing the body to become more dehydrated. Dehydration causes your skin to look dull and even more saggy. Coffee also has the ability to constrict blood vessels which reduces blood circulation. It is also debated that coffee can tire out your adrenal glands causing more anxiety and reducing your ability to properly deal with stress.

Supplements Can Help

A novel molecule called spermidine has been gaining popularity in the longevity industry due to its ability to mimic the effects of fasting and induce your body’s process of autophagy. Spermidine has been the subject of many scientific studies and the results are fascinating. Spermidine supplementation has been shown to enhance the autophagic process within our bodies, leading to reduced inflammation, combating neurodegenerative diseases and bolstering the immune system. Autophagy targets aged and damaged cells, recycling unwanted cellular material within these cells, clearing them out and restoring them to normal cellular function. Improved skin and hair health has been linked to sustained autophagy within the body.

Fortunately spermidine is present in many of the foods you probably already eat. However the amount of spermidine varies widely. Spermidine supplements are an easy way to ensure you’re meeting your daily intake of spermidine.

  • Don Moxley - Director of Applied Science

    Don Moxley is the Director of Applied Science at Longevity Labs. Moxley draws upon his career as an athlete, a sports scientist, and an instructor to lead and educate on the science of autophagy and longevity.