If caffeine is presently found in most drinks like espresso drinks and sugary drinks, do these drinks cause acne-prone skin, let alone breakouts?


Coffee, like gluten and alcohol, is one of those things that health professional flip-flop on. Some say it’s good some say it’s bad, some say its best in moderation — no can really agree here. Coffee contains antioxidant everyone is always talking about, as well as lignans, and a few of that other good-for-you. Studies have shown coffee can be beneficial for your heart and brain function, but more interesting, coffee is apparently good for battling depression.

“As anecdotal evidence goes, there are women out there who swear that giving up coffee helped their skin. It’s hard to use this as concrete proof, however, especially as we can’t say for sure what type of coffee these ladies were drinking regularly. Obviously, if you add lots of milk and sugar to coffee (or order a sugar-laden coffee drink at your local coffee shop), your skin is going to pay for it – we’ve already established here on the blog that milk and sugar can be triggers for acne.” – Seppo

So here is the low-down on coffee, and why it can clog up your face: Coffee stresses out your body. High doses of acidic caffeine activate your sympathetic nervous system — or stress hormones — according to nutritionist Paula Simpson. It triggers that fight-or-flight response, firing up your adrenal glands, thus pumping out excess stress hormones, called catecholamines. This is bad news for your skin, especially if you’re acne prone. The stress hormones that prep for your fight-or-flight (like cortisol) also triggers acne by causing your skin’s oil production to go into hyperdrive, producing more sebum (oil) which makes you shiny and further clogs your pores. Additionally, coffee heightens your body’s inflammation levels, which makes existing acne more red and swollen.


Coffee messes with your blood sugar levels. “Elevated stress hormones offset insulin sensitivity and balance,” explained Simpson. According to Simpson, excess insulin can cause excess sebum production, interrupt skin cell renewal cycles and trigger inflammation in the body. All three factors can increase acne. Coffee messes with your gut. Coffee can cause this nasty thing called “leaky gut syndrome,” a terrible-sounding condition that occurs when the junctions in your intestinal lining weaken and break, disrupting important nutrient absorption. Coffee is one of these disruptors. What happens here is that the high acidity in coffee annihilates your happy tummy flora and allows bad bacteria to fester. This inflames your gut, which not only leads to gut leakage but also causes inflammation, which heightens the blotchy, red look of any pre-existing acne.


“My breakouts finally cleared up in week three, and I have to admit, my skin looked smoother and more healed than normal. The little breakouts that tend to linger all but disappeared, and the pores that always give me trouble looked less congested than usual. I’m not going to say my skin looked J.Lo glowy, but I wasn’t hating the experiment as much I was early on.

The other change I observed was in my skin’s moisture level. I almost always have a few dry patches around my nose and chin, but by week three my skin was far less parched, leading me to believe that perhaps I wasn’t exempt from the dehydrating effects of coffee.” –  DEVEN HOPP

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October 19, 2017 3:55 pm

Anthony, I thought your post was very interesting! I really liked your introduction, “Coffee, like gluten and alcohol, is one of those things that health professional flip-flop on. Some say it’s good some say it’s bad, some say its best in moderation — no can really agree here.” Many people just have boring introductions but yours was eye-catching. I have always wondered if coffee did this, but I never knew it could inflame your gut! I stopped drinking coffee a while ago and I do have to say I feel so much better than when I was on a caffeine high. Although coffee may taste and smell good, it is definitely not beneficial to your health. I found this article about 12 pros and cons of drinking coffee you might to consider reading: https://www.warriorcoffee.com/news/2/12-health-benefits-and-6-disadvantages-of-coffee-smashing-it
It states that although coffee can reduce your chances of dying at a young age by 25%, it can also kill you if you have too much of it. I personally think coffee can do both good and bad, but I’m fine living without it. What do you think the final verdict is? Do you personally feel as though coffee can harm or hurt you?

October 19, 2017 3:46 pm

Dear Anthony,
I am a person who always drinks coffee and I thought that this article was interesting because I have heard that coffee can be bad for your skin and was interested to see what you had to say. I agree that it is very likely that the large amounts of cream and sugar we put in our coffee are more likely to make skin worse than the coffee itself. I also know that caffeine can dehydrate you and if you dont counteract that by drinking water it could dry your skin out and make acne and such worse. I think that every person is different and not drinking coffee may give people good or bad effects. Id be interested to know how else coffee affects our bodies and why it has the benefits that you listed. I thought this article was interesting because this person abstained from coffee and saw the pros and cons before deciding whether coffee was something they wanted to keep in their daily routine.

October 19, 2017 3:46 pm

Anthony, this article grabbed my attention from the title because I had no idea coffee was linked to acne. I have always only heard the positive effects of coffee. I liked how you incorporated into the article quotes of people who helped answer your question. You also gave both sides to the argument by providing positive and negative effects of coffee which is more informative than a completely biased article. Is it coffee specifically or caffeine in general that supposedly causes break-outs? I will be interested to read you other pieces!
Here’s a link I think would be interesting to you, https://www.healthline.com/health/caffeine-effects-on-body.

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