The worst foods for your skin revealed and what to have instead

·Lifestyle Reporter
·4-min read

Everyone has a particular food that they think is “bad” for their skin.

Whether you used to break out every time you had a hot chip or a piece of chocolate, it may surprise you that the culprit behind your lacklustre appearance and breakouts that had your teen self reaching for the clearasil and swearing off chippies for life, may not be the guilty party after all.

Shot of a young woman squeezing a pimple in front of the bathroom mirror
There are some foods that impact our skin more than others. Photo: Getty

With diet and complexion so closely linked, researchers at Vice Reversa looked into the food and drink items we Google the most to see which foods and drinks we find most concerning when it comes to our diet and appearance.

They found over 3000 searches a month, and the top foods and beverages searched included coffee, dairy, chicken and alcohol, followed by water, sugar, fish, fast food, chocolate and wheat.

Coffee is the item we’re the most concerned with, receiving a combined total of 690 searches a month, such as ‘Is drinking coffee bad for my skin?’


Nutritionist and head of health and nutrition services for Health Hub Teams, Sian Baker, says that it’s not as simple as avoiding the foods you think may be causing a problem for most people.

The worst foods and beverages for your skin

“Coffee can make your skin worse, but it depends on how you take it,” Sian explains. “If you are only sticking to one or two cups of black coffee a day, you shouldn’t see any bad effects. However, if you add dairy and sugar, this may result in acne becoming worse due to the properties in the accompaniments.”

It’s important to note that with strong links to skin conditions, dairy was the second most searched ingredient.

woman holding coffee
Coffee and dairy are high on the list of food we think worry our skin. Photo: Getty

Interestingly, studies have shown that fat-free and low-fat milk increased the likelihood of acne development whereas full-fat milk and cheese didn’t have the same strength of effect.

And you might want to re-think that second glass of rosè.

Alcohol, a diuretic, actively draws water away from the body which leads to dehydration and will increase the appearance of wrinkles and dryness. Dehydration can also dilate your pores, leading to an increase of blackheads and whiteheads.

If fried chicken is your favourite thing in the world, you may also want to re-think your weekly visit to the Colonel.

“Chicken can be a healthy source of protein, as it also contains zinc and selenium which are important for optimal skin health,” says Sian.

“The effect of eating chicken on your complexion is certainly affected by the quality of the chicken; better quality products will have greater nutrient density. How you cook it will also affect things. For example, your taste buds may love fried foods but your skin hates it.

"Fried chicken can cause inflammation as eating highly processed foods will have an impaction on glycation (when sugar binds with proteins) and can lead to inflammation and breakouts of acne.”

Hand holding Fried chicken and eating in the restaurant
Fried chicken is one meal that could be bad for your skin. Photo: Getty

Food and drink that will make your skin glow

It’s not all bad news though, with some beautiful and tasty options that will help your complexion get that healthy glow.

With over 6,000 searches questioning what food and drink is good for our skin, it seems we are far more interested in finding out what ingredients are good for our complexions.

Water is the most searched-for item in regards to what is good for us with 1,200 searches a month! This is followed by fish (910 searches), olive oil (880), lemon (640), and turmeric (570).

With over 1,200 searches each month, plenty of us are questioning the health benefits of drinking water.

“Drinking water is great for keeping your skin healthy and improving its condition,” says Sian. “It hydrates your skin, and you’ll find a reduction in itchiness, puffiness and wrinkles.”

Young lady drinking water
Drinking water will always be one of the best things you can do for you skin and overall health. Photo: Getty

Fish was the second most searched item for good skin. As fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it can help regulate the skin’s oil production, help soften tough, dry skin and have a soothing effect on irritated skin.

Interestingly, coffee, water, and fish appeared in both searches for bad skin and good skin, revealing that these are the foods and drinks we were the most concerned about for our complexion.

Luckily, water and fish along with olive oil, lemon and tasty turmeric (along with well prepared, healthy chicken) should have positive effects on our skin.

And as long as you’re drinking coffee in moderation, that shouldn’t result in any breakouts.

So you won’t need to kick that Americano habit just yet!

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