Does Soda Cause Acne Breakouts on the Face and Body?

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Acne is more common than we would like to admit! With the insane Hollywood depiction of flawless skin as a beauty standard, to social media feeds filled with air-brushed photos, struggling with acne can really put a downer on anyone’s self-esteem.

Our diet plays an important role in the overall health of our bodies and skin but does enjoying a fizzy drink really make acne worse? Here’s everything you need to know;

What causes acne?

While teenage acne can easily be pinned on hormonal fluctuation, adult acne might be a tad more difficult to break down as there are multiple possible culprits. Acne occurs when the skin produces too much oil that can clog pores and cause inflammation.

While some instances are unavoidable some choices facilitate the production of excess oil. Before we understand the effect of soda on acne, it’s important to know what exactly causes acne

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes can affect the skin’s production of oil which clogs the skin and results in inflammation. Effects of hormonal changes are often seen throughout the monthly cycle, and in pregnant and menopausal women. While it may be hard to stay on top of these natural hormonal changes, the effects can be reduced by prioritizing healthy sleeping patterns and avoiding stress.

Poor dietary choices

Modern diets have a direct effect on acne as they are mostly high-glycemic. These foods cause the body’s insulin levels to rise in order to maintain glucose levels. This hormonal imbalance can result in increased production of sebum which results in acne.


While most acne cases are not directly related to medicine, it is important to know that drugs containing lithium or anticonvulsants often come with the side effects of acne. Fixing this is as simple as speaking to your doctor to find a different drug medicine that has less adverse effects on your skin.

If you’re on hormonal birth control, that can also increase acne breakouts and you may need to consider other birth control options.

Beauty products

Our skins react differently to different products. At any given time, your skin comes into contact with many products from hair products, to makeup all the way down to your skincare. Carefully vet the oil content in your products and immediately remove any products that are making your acne worse.

When starting a new skincare routine, purging may be expected however if it persists, the products need to be shelved.

Family history

Sometimes acne is as simple as having a family history of the condition. Like psoriasis and eczema, acne can be passed down. The only way to deal with this kind of acne is to keep it at bay with a good routine.

What’s the Connection Between Soda and Acne?

There are numerous foods out there that are believed to trigger acne, and soda is usually at the top of the list. However, just like with every other acne rumor out there, it always pays to do your research…

So, does soda cause acne? Currently, there are no studies out there that prove the connection between the two. There may be plenty of anecdotal evidence that says otherwise, but science hasn’t confirmed this yet.

Still, while there might not be an official direct link between soda and acne, soda consumption, especially if this is excessive, can have a range of health effects. In turn, this leads to various skin issues, with inflammation and acne being common side effects.

What Does Drinking Soda Really Do to Your Skin?

Glasses of different soda

The main issue with sodas is that they’re packed with sugar. All of that sugar is absorbed into your body with each fizzy beverage you drink.

Once this happens, your blood sugar levels start to soar. Your body’s response to this is to raise its insulin levels, which it uses to absorb glucose [1]. The result of all of this activity is then reflected in the skin in a few different ways:


Inflammation is quick to accompany high blood sugar levels. Not only is inflammation in the pores a huge acne trigger, but it also heavily contributes to the aging process (more on this later).

Imbalanced Hormones

Insulin is a hormone, and when insulin is consistently raised in the body, it doesn’t take long for your other hormones to fall out of whack too. Everything from estrogen to testosterone ends up imbalanced, which then stimulates your skin into amping up its oil production.

As you know, the more oil content on your face, the faster your pores get clogged, which results in acne.

When it comes to other hormonal conditions that affect the complexion, whether they trigger acne or anything else, your dermatologist would likely be able to prescribe a medication to help.

However, if your hormonal imbalances are being caused by excessive soda consumption, there’s not much that your dermatologist can do, other than advise you to cut back on the amount of sugar in your diet. Acne meds will help to an extent, but dietary changes would be more beneficial.

Accelerated Skin Aging

You already know that drinking soda causes inflammation in the body, which is one of the main culprits behind skin aging. However, what many people don’t realize is that the type of soda they drink influences this too.

middle aged woman checking her skin - does soda cause acne

Dark-colored sodas are known for their high quantities of advanced glycation end products, also known as AGEs. When these enter your body, they damage the proteins, lipids, and hydrating acids in your skin cells, which significantly speeds up the aging process.

Does the Caffeine in Soda Cause Acne?

Most people love the way in which the caffeine in soda helps to perk them up, leaving them feeling more alert. However, just like with soda itself, there’s a rumor that the caffeine used in those recipes is another cause of acne.

It turns out that, again, there isn’t any proof of the caffeine in soda causing acne breakouts. The same applies to all caffeinated edibles. Chances are, if you’ve been experiencing breakouts after drinking a soda, the likelihood is that sugar is at fault.

Are Diet Soda Drinks Any Better for the Skin?

Since diet soda has a lower sugar content and is better for your waistline, many people think that they’re not quite so damaging for the skin either. In a way, this is true, but the sweeteners and excessive amounts of caffeine in diet beverages aren’t doing your skin any favors.

In fact, the sweeteners used in the diet versions, especially aspartame, have been linked to weight gain, which is detrimental when it comes to skin firmness and elasticity.

Can I still drink carbonated water?

We believe you can get away with enjoying carbonated water without having to worry whether your skin will be punishing you for indulging. The sugar content in sodas is the real culprit as it causes insulin to rise creating an imbalance. If anything, drinking water makes your skin more supple and healthy.

Other Foods That Have Been Linked to Acne Problems

cheerful girl eating sweets on bed

The connection between diet and acne isn’t fully understood yet. While many people have experienced breakouts after consuming certain food items, science hasn’t quite caught up to this yet.

However, just like with soda, certain food products contain compounds that either trigger an increase in sebum production or interfere with hormones, both of which then contribute to acne [2].

The potential acne-causing foods that you should be wary of are:

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as food that has been made from white flour or white rice
  • Dairy products
  • Food that is high in bad fats or omega-6 fatty acids

Of course, everyone will have their own acne triggers. Keep a note of what you’ve eaten when you experience an acne breakout, and you should be able to identify which foods are most problematic for you.


Is Coke Zero bad for your skin?

coke zero diet coke

Even though Coke Zero contains sweeteners instead of sugars, it’s still bad for your skin.

Does drinking soda cause wrinkles?

Yes, drinking large quantities of soda on a regular basis can cause wrinkles.

What drink helps clear skin?

The best drink for your skin is water, whether this is plain or fruit-infused water. Herbal teas, such as green tea, are also great for clearing the skin.

Related Article: Can vitamin c cause acne?


So, does soda cause acne? Not directly, but the sugar content of a soda beverage can definitely contribute to breakouts.

While the occasional can of soda isn’t going to lead to any severe skin problems, drinking it regularly more than likely will. The key is moderation – there’s nothing wrong with drinking soda as a treat every once in a while, but avoid making fizzy beverages a regular part of your diet, not only for your skin but also for your overall health.



Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.