Does Coffee Cause Acne Breakouts?

Drinking coffee feels great.

It gives you something to looking forward to every morning. It helps you focus and gets you high. The act of drinking coffee is truly loved by most coffee drinkers. For many, however, it wreaks havoc on the skin. Coffee aggravates acne by a combination of spiking cortisol, inducing dehydration, damaging the digestive tract, causing inflammation and altering the sleep cycle. Every time you drink a coffee of coffee, you triger your bodies ‘flight or flight’ mechanism. Which is wonderful for productivity, but not good for your skin.

For me, there is a strong correlation between acne and coffee. Despite years of experimenting with lifestyle changes and prescription acne treatments, I’ve found it impossible to stay completely clear while regularly drinking coffee.

I drank a small coffee yesterday, after a month of no caffeine intake. Looking in the mirror eight hours later, my skin was red and blotchy. I had visible blackheads that hadn’t been there the day before. Worse, I had an inflamed whitehead. The next day, I drank a large coffee and that night my skin looked even worse. Oil was coming out of virtually every pore on my face. Compare this to the way I look after abstaining from coffee for a week: My skin looks smoother, younger, less irritated, less red, and generally healthier. Good enough to make me proud (a rare feeling for a long time acne sufferer). My experiments have taught me that I can’t drink coffee if I want to look my best.

Surveying the people in my life who drink coffee and those who don’t, there is no doubt in my mind: non-coffee drinkers have far better looking skin and less acne.

If you are struggling with acne and you haven’t quit coffee, give it a shot. If you still won’t consider giving up coffee, perhaps this warning — posted in every Starbucks in California — will motivate you: Chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and reproductive toxicity, including acrylamide, are present in coffee.

How to quit coffee? I took a mathematical approach. Starting at 600mgs/day, I cut consumption by 50 mgs per day, so that on day 12 I had my last cup of coffee. By day fifteen, which was my third day off coffee, my skin looked the best it had in ages. The withdrawal symptoms, particularly an inability to focus, lasted another month.

I found non-skin related benefits to quitting coffee as well, such as:

It feels good to be addiction-free.
I feel healthier.
I feel happier for longer throughout the day.
I experience less anger and my temper is calm.
Instead of crashing at 4 pm, I get a tremendous boost of energy.

Update: So far our coffee-acne survey has generated 110 responses. About half of our respondents believe that coffee contributes to acne. This is a relatively high ‘yes’ rate for an acne survey. High enough that should consider replacing coffee with green tea, yerba matte, or (yikes) no caffeine, at least on a temporary basis as an experiment. If you do, please tell us about your results. Note: this survey was run site-wide, so some bias (people searching for coffee and acne) was been avoided.

3 Responses to “Does Coffee Cause Acne Breakouts?”

  1. Bob 30. Apr, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Does it also apply to de-caf coffee?

    I was also wondering what to replace coffee with that does not cause acne?

  2. gul 28. Aug, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    Yes, I have suffered more than 16 months with acne all because of drinking a cup of coffee every morning, I stopped about 6 weeks ago and now my skin is clear of acnes.


  1. The wingedserpent regimen - 18. Aug, 2012

    [...] The regimen consists of homemade vegetable juice, sugar elimination, B5 supplementation with L-Carnitine, and drinking increased amounts of water. Later in the thread, the author mentions that he quit drinking coffee and milk when he started this regimen, but he doesn’t see that as being strongly connected with his newly found clear skin. I do, though. [...]

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