Will coffee give me acne?

Acne can be caused by many a thing, bad diet, poor exercise routine, lack of skin care regime, poor hygiene, bad luck, genetics you name it. However, there has been a growing concern around the effects of caffeine on acne and whether or not it is a cause of acne itself. This will be discussed below.

It is generally regarded that caffeine does not, in fact, cause acne. However, it is also generally regarded that it definitely makes acne worse in some form or another whether this is increasing the intensity of the breakout, or causing redness and swelling of the skin.

Stress levels rising

Coffee aggravates and elevates the body’s stress levels. There are significant links between coffee and raising stress levels and or anxiety in the brain and body. Stress levels and anxiety are known to be agitated by caffeine, and it is best to be avoided for people who suffer from anxiety disorders, people who have high blood pressure, or people who are living through particularly stressful situations.

Coffee doubles the body’s natural responses to stress. This process is called hyperadrenalism. Hyperadrenalism is when the body produces an extra amount of the stress hormone, which is highly aggravated by coffee.

stressed woman holding head

Hormones such as cortisol (the stress hormone), are heightened and somewhat doubled if not more when the body intakes caffeine from drinking coffee. Cortisol is a major factor and a major cause of acne breakouts. This is because it raises oil levels in the surface of the skin, which gathers in the pores and seeps deep inside them. If left unwashed, it can cause pore blockage, and dirt builds up inside them, which naturally causes acne breakouts.

Not only does stress naturally have negative consequences for clear skin, but your body also is more prone to breakouts when it is stressed, and it is at least twice as worse with the addition of caffeine.

This can lead to all sorts of other complications besides from just acne such as difficulties sleeping and falling to sleep, headaches, dizziness and even constipation. Insomnia means that you will be tired, tiredness leads to the body not being able to function as it should, which can lead to complications such as acne breakouts and pimples on the face or other parts of the body.

Caffeine should be avoided at night and the evenings for a proper sleep pattern to continue and be maintained. If the body gets the right amount of rest and recovery time, the skin has a much better chance of rejuvenating and regenerating the collagen-like it needs to do in order to keep clean and blemish free.

Dairy & Sugar

People often drink their coffee with the addition of milk and or sugar. Maybe they have their coffee with milk and sugar combined. Unless you are one of the people who like their coffee bare, then you are adding extra stress to your skin.

Milk and sugar are commonly known as two products that antagonize the skin and consequently can lead to causing acne.

Dairy can be a significant factor when it comes to acne breakouts, as extensive research into the matter has proven. This is because of the lactose element in most dairy products, especially milk. Lactose often causes breakouts and can agitate a number of different processes in the body. Many people opt for dairy-free milk in their coffee, such as soy or almond alternatives to avoid the after effects of full-fat lactose dairy milk.

Sugar, as is common knowledge, is traditionally bad for maintaining healthy skin but also high sugar levels lead to lower insulin resistance, and the body’s ability to break sugar down becomes hindered over time which leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and more. All of these things also contribute towards higher levels of aggressive acne and skin breakouts.

Insulin resistance

Drinking coffee on a regular basis, so a few cups a day, can really hurt your body’s capability in terms of how it deals with carbohydrates. When the body stops processing carbohydrates efficiently, insulin levels are consequently affected.

It can raise insulin levels in the body and therefore as a further consequence raises blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates have a high sugar content; this is why blood sugar levels are elevated as the insulin struggles to break down the carbohydrates that enter the body correctly.

Insulin is an issue for the body as it is well known to cause oil production in large quantities on the skin. If your body is making too much of it, then it will stop being effective, and your body will stop recognizing it as a viable hormone. This leads to complications such as diabetes, obesity and blood sugar problems.

Bad Bacteria in your Stomach

Drinking too much coffee and therefore having too high of caffeine intake, can cause something called dysbiosis inside the body. What is dysbiosis? Well, it’s quite a simple concept for such a big and scientific word.

Dysbiosis is the process that describes a microbial imbalance inside the stomach and gut. Microbial just means all things organisms, so not that complicated right? Well, caffeine causes this in higher quantities because of the acidic content in every cup.

The acid can attack the good bacteria that exists naturally in the stomach, and that comes from eating and drinking other things such as good yogurts and water. When the acid in the coffee acts in such a way, it stops the body in its tracks from being able to produce normal vitamins and absorb the normal nutrients it needs from food.

This, as you can imagine, has bigger repercussions and implications for your health. This can lead to a whole host of problems with regards to iron deficiencies, indigestion problems, other digestive problems and poor effects for the rest of your organs, not to mention the skin and therefore consequential acne.

Moldy mycotoxins

A mycotoxin is a word used for anything toxic that comes off fungus – mold, spores, you name it. Though not on its own, coffee actually contains mycotoxins which occur when the coffee is being grown and stays after it has been harvested. The mold is from the crops and stays through the harvesting off the coffee beans.

Mould is quite commonplace in the climates in which coffee is grown, i.e. hot and moist and on a low altitude. The climates where it is common are also the climates from which the cheaper coffee is supplied and grown as well and therefore used more widely in chain coffee stores such as Starbucks. So if you’ve ever drunk a coffee from Starbucks, you’ve probably drunk its moldy spores as well.

Mycotoxins are really bad for acne, and that goes without saying. They also have a largely negative effect on the overall health of the body. However, don’t fret. If the coffee is sourced and grown at a higher altitude, there is a much lower risk level when it comes to lingering mycotoxins, and it is much safer though somewhat more expensive.

So does caffeine cause acne?

Well, the answer is yes it does, and no it doesn’t. Caffeine has not been proven to directly be a causing factor of acne and blemish breakouts on the face and other parts of the body.

However, it is not good for the body and especially less good if your caffeine intake is anything over one cup a day. It plays havoc with your stomach bacteria balance, it plays havoc with your cortisol levels which leads to higher anxiety, higher oil production, and higher breakouts, it plays havoc with your sleep patterns which lead to the body not having enough recovery time. Some types of coffee actually contain mycotoxins, a kind of mold come from fungus through the cultivation process that also plays havoc with not just your skin but other bodily functions as well.

If you must drink coffee, don’t be fooled into thinking that decaf is better for you and therefore your skin, because it isn’t really. Yes, it has less caffeine which is a good thing, but it still negatively messes with your internal bacteria and contains an even higher risk of containing mycotoxins residue from the growing and harvesting process.

Instead, try drinking coffee in much smaller quantities to start yourself off with. Caffeine withdrawal is a real and serious thing and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you need advice regarding caffeine withdrawal and how to cope or deal with it, you can talk to your medical professional.

Alternatively, you could try to limit the amount of milk and sugar you take with your coffee as well as drinking smaller quantities, as they are agitating factors when it comes to acne breakouts for separate reasons. If you can’t drink your coffee without milk, try a dairy alternative such as soy or almond milk and see if your skin knows any improvements with this subtle change.