No matter how many products, tonics, face washes, and moisturizers you use, the most important skincare routine is on your plate. The perfect clear skin diet can be the difference between beautiful skin and blemishes galore.
We enlisted the help of some experts to show you what the perfect healthy skin diet looks like, and we uncovered a few surprises along the way.
6 Foods to Avoid on a Clear Skin Diet
Dairy is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to acne, especially if you’re breaking out on the lower half of your face (chin, jawline, and neck), according to DC Derm Docs’ Dr. Dale Isaacson and Dr. Marilyn Berzin of Washington, D.C.
“Studies have shown that eating dairy products can prompt the release of insulin, growth factors, and hormones in the body that may all play a role in breakouts,” they say.
Robin Berzin, MD, Founder of Parsley Health, also notes that since many people are sensitive to both casein and whey, the two major proteins in dairy, eating dairy products can exacerbate not just acne but also other skin conditions like eczema.
Sugar in any form is a no-no for clear skin, but this includes fruits high in sugar, according to Serena Goldstein.
“Sugar causes inflammation which can lead to both acne, rashes and redness in the skin,” explains Berzin. “Many patients who cut out sugar say they see a change in their skin in about a week. You can visibly see the difference in the texture of the skin. It looks more clear. Some people might even say that it glows.”
Glowing skin? That's well worth sacrificing bananas for a less sugary fruit, like apples.
3. French Fries
The old wives’ tale that greasy foods cause acne was debunked a few years ago, when an article published in Scientific American wrote that this specific food connection "has not been confirmed in controlled studies.” That said, this doesn’t mean you should be overindulging in fries.
French fries are a high glycemic food, with a glycemic index of 75. Robin Berzin notes that this could be the cause of your breakouts. “Drastic changes in your blood sugar cause stress to your body," she says. "Any time the body is in duress it is more prone to breakouts.”
Isaacson and Marilyn Berzin agree.
“Elevated blood sugar stimulates your body to pump out insulin, triggering hormonal effects, including excess oil, and increased skin cell production, all of which lead to clogged pores and breakouts.”
In addition, one other ingredient in fries can lead to breakouts – not fat, but salt.
“Too much salt can dehydrate your skin and lead to swelling,” say Isaacson and Marilyn Berzin. “It can make it more difficult for your skin to heal acne.”
Bread is problematic on a clear skin diet, not only for its high glycemic index, but also for its gluten content.
“Gluten intolerance causes many problems for our patients and acne and eczema are among them,” notes Robin Berzin. “I commonly see people in my practice who remove gluten from their diets and see huge improvement in their skin.”
Where do we start with beer? A high glycemic index, gluten, and alcohol – this happy hour favorite won’t make you happy if you're on a clear skin diet.
“It’s no surprise that alcohol dehydrates your skin and highlights wrinkles, which preventing your skin from healing,” note Isaacson and Marilyn Berzin. “Your weekend habits can also have a negative impact on your vitamin A, B3, and C levels, which are all important antioxidants for your skin and vital to regenerate new cells.”
This one surprised us – after all, fish is good for you, right?
Not shellfish, according to Isaacson and Marilyn Berzin, at least not if you’re trying to clear up your skin.
“Shrimp, crab, and lobster contain iodine, which can lead to clogged pores and acne,” they say.
“Iodine creates irritation within your skin. If you already have clogged or congested pores, it will speed up the formation of an inflamed pimple in those who are acne-prone.”
3 Foods to Eat for Clear Skin
1. Wild Salmon
The omega-3 fatty acids in wild salmon are great for adding moisture to your skin naturally, which might not sound ideal if you suffer from acne. That said, a combination of acne and dry skin is quite common – particularly in adults – and when your skin is dry, this can actually exacerbate the condition.
Add to this the fact that salmon is rich in selenium, which protects your skin from sun exposure, and adding salmon to your weekly menu becomes a great choice for a clear skin diet.
The healthy fats in avocado make it just as good a choice as salmon for your skin – the monounsaturated fats in avocado keep the top layer of your skin moist and soft, while the polyunsaturated fats protect against inflammation, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
Avocados also contain antioxidants, which protect your skin cells and help them to heal more quickly. Add to this vitamins E and C, the former of which protects from ultraviolet light and the latter of which helps you to make collagen, the source of skin’s elasticity and firmness, and you’ve got a veritable cocktail for healthy skin.
3. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables are one of the best additions you can make to a clear skin diet. They’re loaded with vitamin C, but also vitamin A, which helps to prevent blocked pores.
Cruciferous vegetables also contain sulforaphane, an antioxidant that is extremely anti-inflammatory, thus reducing the likelihood of breakouts on the skin.
In addition, crucifers like broccoli contain indole-3 carbinol, which can help detoxify excessive estrogen levels in the body. As estrogen dominance has been linked to increased DHT levels, which cause oily skin, reducing excessive estrogen levels is a key to clearing up skin.
Related on Organic Authority
Top Foods for Clear Skin and a Glowing Complexion
5 Powerful Essential Oils that Clear Your Skin of Acne
DIY Skin Care from Medicinal Plants: Easy, Affordable, and Way Cleaner than Clearasil