Does Coffee Cause Acne? Here’s What Every Caffeine Drinker Needs to Know

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Many people depend on their morning cup of coffee to kickstart their day, with over 400 billion cups of the world’s most popular beverage being consumed worldwide each year. While that hit of caffeine may give you a precious energy boost, have you ever stopped to think about what coffee may be doing to your skin?

Some people have noticed an increase in breakouts with the more coffee that they drink, but is there actually evidence that proves a connection between the two? It’s time to get to the bottom of this…

Is Drinking Coffee Bad for Your Skin?

When consumed in moderation, coffee, just like most other foods, isn’t very harmful, even when it contains a high amount of caffeine. However, if your one cup of coffee quickly turns into four or five on a regular basis, then yes, your skin could very well be suffering.

Caffeine

Cup of coffee and coffee beans

Many people believe that caffeine has a dehydrating effect, but studies show that this isn’t true. So long as you’re drinking under five cups of coffee or tea a day, then this will have a similar hydrating effect to drinking water [1].

Instead, the main problem with excessive caffeine intake, whether from tea or coffee, is the stress and anxiety that it can make you feel. Large amounts of caffeine trigger a stress response in the body, resulting in your body producing more stress hormones. Cortisol, which is the main stress hormone, is known to increase oil production in the skin, which can then contribute to clogged pores and breakouts.

Dairy Milk

There are many foods that are believed to cause acne, but this hasn’t yet been backed up by scientific proof. However, when it comes to dairy products, especially milk, even the experts agree that this could make acne worse.

It all comes down to the hormone content in milk. From steroids to an insulin-like growth factor, there’s plenty of evidence out there that shows how milk hormones increase sebum production [2], resulting in clogged pores and acne.

One way to avoid this would be to swap the dairy milk in your coffee and tea for a plant-based alternative, such as oat milk or almond milk. Constant F&B product development means that new dairy-free milk choices are constantly becoming available, so give some of these a try in your next cup of coffee.

Sugar

There’s no question about it – any dermatologist will tell you that sugar is extremely bad for your skin. Sugar stimulates your body into producing more insulin, which can then knock your other hormones off-balance. As a result, sebum production in the skin increases, making sugar one of the most common dietary acne triggers out there.

sugar cubes

Not only that, but sugar is known for being highly destructive to the skin’s protein fibers too. Both collagen and elastin, which play a big part in how smooth and tight your skin is, break down faster when an excessive quantity of sugar is consumed, leading to premature skin aging.

Is There a Proven Link Between Coffee and Acne Vulgaris?

No, there isn’t a proven connection between coffee itself and acne. However, there are definitely strong links between acne and the milk/sugar that’s often added to coffee and tea, as well as the excessive consumption of caffeine. If you’re able to cut back on these, then that daily coffee that you depend on could actually end up helping your skin…

The Skin Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Many often focus on the negative effects that coffee and caffeine can have, but there’s a good part to this drink too.

For starters, just like tea, coffee is packed with antioxidants. These antioxidants help to fight free radical damage in the skin, which can help with everything from acne to aging.

corporate worker drinking coffee for breakfast

Coffee also helps to give your gut flora a boost. One study shows that coffee drinkers have a much richer and more diverse gut flora than people who don’t drink coffee [3]. All of those strains of bacteria in your gut directly impact your skin, meaning that using coffee to help keep things balanced can actually give you a healthier complexion.

If all of that wasn’t enough, coffee is revered for its anti-inflammatory content as well. Not only can this help to keep acne at bay, but it can also soothe other inflammatory skin conditions.

How Much Coffee is Too Much?

As you can see, there are both pros and cons to drinking coffee, with the amount that you consume having a huge impact on this. In order to make the most of all of the antioxidants in coffee, while preventing the caffeine from causing damage, limit yourself to just one or two cups a day.

You’ll sometimes be able to get away with having an extra cup, but never consume more than five. After this, your body’s stress response is triggered, meaning that acne and other skin issues won’t be too far behind.

How to Care for Your Skin If You Frequently Drink Coffee

Ideally, if you drink more than two cups of coffee a day, you’ll start to cut back, or at least turn to a caffeine-free version – this is the best thing that you could do for your skin.

However, in addition to that, your dermatologist would likely also recommend adding some collagen-building ingredients to your skincare routine. This will counteract the effects of the sugars in your coffee.

coffee break

If you do happen to over-indulge on the caffeine, take some time to bring your stress levels down. Not only will this benefit your overall health, but it will keep your skin much happier too.

In fact, if you ever wonder what is the best acne treatment in the market today, check our recommendations.

FAQs

Is coffee good for acne-prone skin?

There isn’t a simple answer to this because it all depends on how you take your coffee. If you only drink the occasional cup with a plant-based milk and no sugar, then coffee and its high content of antioxidants can actually be good for acne-prone skin.

Will giving up coffee improve my skin?

Not necessarily. However, giving up the milk and sugar that’s often added to coffee will definitely improve your skin.

Is coffee a hormone disruptor?

Yes, coffee can act as a hormone disruptor, but only if it’s consumed in excessive amounts. Health information shows that drinking it in moderation doesn’t cause any hormonal issues.

Coffee and tea on a dark colored table

Does coffee remove pimples?

Applying coffee topically can sometimes help to remove pimples, but you would be best off using a dedicated skincare product containing caffeine instead.

Conclusion

When it comes to acne, coffee isn’t necessarily to blame. You may see an increase in breakouts with the more coffee that you drink, but this is likely to be due to its sugar and milk content, rather than the caffeine. In fact, coffee, just like tea, can actually be a great friend to your skin, so long as it is consumed in moderation.

References

(1) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-coffee-dehydrate-you#dehydrating-effect
(2) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/dairy-and-acne#causes
(3) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326845

About The Author

Brenda Lawrence

I’ve been a writer nearly all my life and a professional one for almost ten years. My reviews are meticulously researched and fact-checked to allow you to find the brand or product that will meet your needs.