Are you getting acne from eating overly acidic food?

I have combination skin like many others, and because my skin can get dry and oily in different parts of my face and at different timings, acne is something that comes and goes too. While I still have the occasional pimples, I’d have to say my skin now is a great improvement from just half a year ago and when I do get acne and pimples, they recover and heal faster than before. So what exactly did I do to make the positive change? Well, I just made two changes: switching to a less acidic diet and opting for organic skincare.

Why an acidic diet can cause acne
Cheek acne (and sometimes jawline and chin acne too) are usually indicators of your intestines being clogged and unclean but acne in general is usually a sign of the body being too acidic. Acidity is not determined by how the food taste, but rather by the pH of the food you eat during and after digestion. What happens when you eat foods that are acidic is your body tries to purge out the waste and toxins which are by-products of digesting those food, and acne is one of those ways  (source).

Why dairy can cause acne
I avoid dairy as much as I can as dairy have very little benefits for the body and causes chronic acne (source).  The reason for this is because the bodies of adult humans have lesser enzymes of lactase and rennin that are used to break down the lactose in milk, thus making dairy food really hard to digest and leaving acidic residue in our body that eventually leads to acne as one of the side effects. There is a reason why babies wean after a certain amount of time. If you are worried about not getting your calcium fix, green vegetables do contain calcium and it is not true that you have to take heaps of greens to get the sufficient amount of calcium for your body needs.

Why you should avoid meat
Meat as we know it nowadays, are pumped with antibiotic and growth hormones. And their bodies work just like ours – when toxins are consumed, it is stored in their fats to protect their organs because the body’s priority is internally before externally. So in this sense, animals pumped with antibiotics and growth hormones grow bigger faster and have more to sell. We in turn consume these antibiotics and hormones when we eat these meat in excess. Not to mention that meat is also another acidic food. If you have to get meat, its best to get grass fed animals, in other words, organic meat. But I understand that organic meat can be out of budget for some of us. The best is to avoid meat, or if you have to eat it, be sure to remove the skin and fats as much as you can.

What foods to take if you are acne-prone
Include foods that are high in fiber. Take lots and lots of water and vegetables and fruits, especially vegetables with Vitamin A such as arugula, broccoli, and cantaloupe. Also include foods rich in zinc as having a zinc deficiency can cause acne. Foods high in zinc includes pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut. Watercress is also good for warding off acne as it contains Vitamins A, B1, B2, C and E. Thyme is another vegetable to include on the list of foods that help fights acne (source).  Apart from having foods high in fiber, make sure you eat a balanced meal and visit the toilet regularly to remove all the toxins.

Why overloading on skin care products aggravate acne
Finally, do watch what you use on your skin. Back in the days when I wasn’t aware about the ingredients in my products, I had no idea that the moisturizers I used had either ingredients that were skin irritants (I also have eczema), or ingredients that coat your skin with a layer of moisture while suffocating your skin. This is why any petroleum based products should be highly frowned upon. Your skin is clogged, not just from oil and dirt, but also probably from moisturizers with the ‘dirty dozen’ ingredients! If organic products are not something you would invest in, my advice is to pile lesser products on your face and body. That way, you let your skin have a chance to breathe and possibly regenerate on its own.

Watch what you eat!
My experience tells me that our skin can’t regenerate on its own without the help of improving our diet. So if you’re acne-prone, then you really have to watch what you’re putting in your mouth.


  1. EcoBeauty says:

    Nice post, Cassie. I once wrote about my experience in holistic acne treatment and an important part of that was my diet. I avoided red meat for about 2 months (although I still took it whenever I couldn’t take the temptation) but generally, my diet consisted mostly of fish and veggies. After my detox period, my acne improved dramatically–and I’m not exaggerating, haha! You can check out the before-and-after photos, lol. But I became complacent after that and started binging on unhealthy stuff after a couple of months. I’m currently rehabilitating my diet again ?

    Oh, something interesting I want to share about my detox experience was that I discovered that beef gives me acne. When I stopped taking too much beef, I stopped getting huge pimples.
    EcoBeauty last post is: Mood Swings and Hair Cuts and Why They Might be a Tragic Pair

  2. sos says:

    Interesting. I have realised eating very oily food outside gives me pimples!

  3. Jyoan says:

    Oh yes! I definitely have felt the effects of food on my skin. Fried food can sometimes cause almost immediate reaction.
    Jyoan last post is: NOTD: Dior Incognito – Sweet Pastel Rose Pink

  4. Cassie says:

    Ah.. I have to go and search for that article you wrote and have a read! Mine started off as a detox but because I saw the great improvements, I am now a 80% herbivore. ?
    Cassie last post is: Are you a sugarholic?

  5. Cassie says:

    Because some oily and fried foods are sold in food centers and hawkers, I sometimes wonder if the environment also play a factor in surfacing those pimples quicker.
    Cassie last post is: Are you a sugarholic?

  6. Cassie says:

    A large percentage of my diet contributed to my acne in the past. Now my pimples only appear occasionally, but that is because I still have some white meat occasionally. ? Have you tried avoiding certain foods or even a detox?
    Cassie last post is: Are you a sugarholic?

  7. Sesame says:

    I remember seeing your improvements – very drastic! And I have a feeling that you and Cassie can become good friends. Almost same age group and same interests! Haha…

  8. Carrie says:

    Awwww… big frowns ?
    I am a vegetarian so dairy products (mainly cheese) is my main source of B12 (which can only be found on animal and dairy products)… I do not like taking supplements and would prefer to get sources of mineral and vitamins from food. But thanks for the post still, I sure am that I no longer eat meat ?

  9. Cassie says:

    The B12 problem is also something I encounter. I am trying to find an alternative solution to obtaining it without resorting to meat if possible. Like you, I also prefer not to take supplements.
    Cassie last post is: Going back to the way nature intended for us

  10. Cassie says:

    Now I’m really intrigued by the before and after photos! ?
    Cassie last post is: Going back to the way nature intended for us

  11. Cassie says:

    EcoBeauty! I saw those pictures!!!! :O I’m glad it worked so well for you! And I feel guilty after reading that post of your holistic acne treatment, because before that i just popped 3 chocolate biscuits. :X
    Cassie last post is: Going back to the way nature intended for us

  12. EcoBeauty says:

    @Sesame – LOL, didn’t know Cassie and I were from the same age but I checked her blog and she has a cat! ?

    @Cassie – …And I’ve just devoured 3 cakes from Mad Jack after a plate of steak for dinner, haha! I’ll just make up for it by trying to be healthier the next couple of days. Anyway, I’m glad to know another person who, like me, overcame her skin issues by making drastic changes to her diet. ?
    EcoBeauty last post is: Mood Swings and Hair Cuts and Why They Might be a Tragic Pair

  13. Swati says:

    less acidic foods also improve the skin health even if one is not prone to acne ? but, organic food is really not available everywhere!!
    Swati last post is: How to start caring for your hair? {Hair Care}

  14. liyan says:

    the whole concept of acidic and alkaline food is a popular topic that dietitians and nutritionists find it hard to grapple with. our body regulates blood pH within the tight range of 7.35 to 7.45 and food intake is unlikely to be able to cause much change in pH, unless the kidneys are not functioning well.

    from the journal Clinics of Dermatology, the author agrees that diet plays an important role in acne. However, the stimulatory effect of milk on acne is not due to the acidity, but rather the anabolic components such as 5α-pregnanedione. And the reason milk contains these is because the natural function of milk is to stimulate growth. The author suggests that foods with significant sugar content and other carbohydrates yielding high glycemic loads that affect insulin and insulin-like growth factors promote increased production of available androgens and the subsequent development of acne.

    On the overall concept of acidity and alkalinity, it appears that protein rich food items are classified as acidic. which makes sense because protein is made up of amino acids, which is necessary for growth and repair. similarly, fats and oils are also classified as acidic, as they are broken down to fatty acids – the form which the body can store and generate energy from.

    i agree with cassie that one should eat more fruits and vegetables, i would like to caution readers on relying too much on the acidity and alkalinity classification of food. if we were to eat only alkaline foods, we will be limiting our protein sources. similarly, if we were to avoid acidic foods, we will be missing out on the goodness of fruits such as cranberries!

  15. Cassie says:

    Yeap! So true about alkaline foods improving the skin health. ? Some Cold Storage in Singapore has quite a range of organic products in them now. You should have a look next time you’re near one. ?
    Cassie last post is: Coffee is not your saviour

  16. Cassie says:

    Very well said! And it’s true that one should not focus mainly on foods that are either acidic or alkaline and neglect the vitamins and minerals our bodies need. ?
    Cassie last post is: Coffee is not your saviour

  17. chocola says:

    I’m currently in the middle of acne breakout, and it’s been 3 months!!! It started when my in laws moved in with us & my mom in law has been pampering me with her so called ‘nutritious’ foods. It’s been my severe breakout to date. Previously, my face had been relatively acne & blackhead free, ocasionally zits popped out during pms, oher than that nothing considered serious at all. I am so concerned about my face’s well being that i tried different ways of detoxing craps out of m systems. 1st, i tried oil pulling (google for more info), & i used virgin coconut oil (since it’s the only organic & virgin oil in my kitchen). the oil pulling only lasted for 4 days as i developed a fatigue, headache, frequent urination. it turned out that i might have an allergy to coconut oil, which is common for blood type O people. anyhow, the oil pulling does wonders to my skin & my teeth!!! acnes were reduced & teeth were brighter. 2nd, i’ve been on coffee enema since i scrapped the oil pulling (again, please google for more info). i am more happy that i decided to regularly do the coffee enema (i do this once a week), my skin condition is improving (but in a rather slow pace), but the most noticeable is i have better energy level than before. plus, i usually got sick quite easy (cold, cough, sore throat, you name it), but i notice that i haven’t gone to see my dear GP in 2 months now (i usually see him at least once a month). so, i’ll just let my acne heal slowly, while i enjoy my newfound health =)
    oh btw, i change my diet too… as i try to be polite & appreciative to my MIL, i don’t reject her cookings, but i will eat more and more portions of fruits, salads, veggies everytime i think i’ve excessively eaten acidic foods.

    (hi to you all… i’m a new comer here, i enjoy reading the articles. keep it up, ladies!)

  18. claire says:

    ah I’ve read about this before too. It’s so difficult to resist crispy fried food and awesome cooking when I’m so stressed everyday. But I try to make it up

  19. Cassie says:

    Hey chocola, I did a google search and looked up oil pulling and coffee enema, and boy am I surprised! I had no idea there were such detoxification methods. But honestly, the coffee enema sounds painful and scary. :O! But I’m glad those worked for you!
    Cassie last post is: Tips for starting on eating healthy

  20. Cassie says:

    Or you could try eating more vegetables that are in proportion to the ‘bad’ foods you eat. ?
    Cassie last post is: Tips for starting on eating healthy

  21. Megan says:

    I’m 16 and I used to have terrible acne (and I still do on my back) but it has gotten better after I meet a dermatologist. However, I still frequently find pimples and white cysts on my chin! I know that I need to change my diet because it’s full of meat, but I just can’t eat vegatables! ): Whenever I eat veggies, my body quickly reacts to it and I have an urge to throw up. Is this normal?

  22. Cassie says:

    Hey Megan, I can relate to what you described. I was like this when I was younger, and I always drive my family up the wall whenever they try and force me to eat my vegetables. I still get this urge to throw up at the thought of eating tomatoes. I used to really hate the smell of cucumbers but now I’m drinking it every morning and the smell doesn’t make me feel disgusted anymore! You have to understand that this urge to throw up is really a mental thing. The trick is to trick yourself into liking it. ? Like right now I’m easing myself into eating red bell peppers raw and hopefully, to like eating tomatoes in the near future. Start small by choosing to overcome one type of vegetable at a time. ?
    Cassie last post is: Tips for starting on eating healthy

  23. Megan says:

    Thanks, Cassie! #k8SjZc9Dxk#k8SjZc9Dxk I thought it was just me, it’ nice to know i’m not the only one with that problem. I’ve been eating small portions of salad and tomato as much as I can. It’s been going well, I just have to think more positive about it.. Corn is the only thing I can handle ha ha. Thanks again ?

  24. katie mattick says:

    This is amazing advise!

  25. Helen Huang says:

    Hi Cassie,

    Thanks for sharing these great tips. I used to suffer from acne myself, and cutting down on dairy really helped me a lot. In addition, a high consumption of sugar is also a major culprit of acne so reducing its acne may help improve an acne condition as well.

    Helen Huang last post is: Privacy Policy

  26. Jack Maggard says:

    I have few acne, so I decided to eat more vegetable and fruits to get rid off it. ?
    Jack Maggard last post is: Hello world!

  27. Kimberly Gates says:

    Very well said, eating too much acidic food is a favorite food for acnes and then you start struggled within. So, I start now of being a vegan to cease the shameful acne.

    Oh, before I forget, thank you so much, Sesame, for the great share! ?
    Kimberly Gates last post is: Effective Treatment and Remedies Against Acne

  28. Laura says:

    I had an unplanned pregnancy and was ended up with the abortion pill, it was all safely done but after a few months I got small pimples on my face and also affected on my health with acidity please suggest me the diet plan.

  29. click here says:

    Very well said, eating too much acidic food is a favorite food for acnes and then you start struggled within. So, I start now of being a vegan to cease the shameful acne.

  30. Dermatologist Dr. Kavitha says:

    yeah acidic food is way to much dangerous if you have acne. Actually when your skin is too alkaline it becomes dry and sensitive, increasing the chance of acne. Being an Dermatologist and Cosmetologist myself, I like recommend preventing skin diseases by changing habits rather than curing with medicines.

    It was a nice read.

    dr. Kavitha
    Dermatologist Dr. Kavitha last post is: Male Pattern Baldness

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