Does Coffee Cause Breakouts?

Coffee does not directly effect the skin.  However, it can change the chemicals in your body to stimulate the production of hormones that do.  So does coffee cause breakouts?



Does coffee cause breakouts?It’s hard to stop once you start, and for so many reasons.  Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world due to its taste and stimulating effects.  It’s easy to get a hold of and even easier to make.  It can be social or drank as your own time-out.  

No wonder it’s addictive!

Coffee, made from the coffee bean, contains more than just caffeine.  Coffee owes most of its psychoactive benefits to caffeine.  

Also present in coffee is antioxidants (plant phenols, chlorogenic acid),  and tocopherols.  These have health benefits that range from starving off cancers to removing free radicals in the body.


Caffeine is a drug.  Although naturally found in coffee, it’s still a drug.  Caffeine increases the messages sent between the brain and the body, hence the restlessness and quickened heartbeat.  A great resource for caffeine can be found here.

How Acne is Caused

Acne is caused by a blocked a hair follicle (pore).  This is caused by sebum being over produced in the sebaceous gland in the hair follicle.  It is over producing because of increased stimulation by androgen hormones such as testosterone.  

As most know, this increase can happen because of puberty or by smoking as well as other reasons.  The overproduction of sebum can mix with keratin (dead skin cells) to block the pore where bacteria can flourish.  

This creates a pimple; too much of it creates acne.

 Types of Acne Pimples

Does Coffee Cause Breakouts?

Theoretically, yes.  But, even for some people with acne prone skin, it doesn’t.  I’m fortunately one of those people. However, if you’re getting acne and drinking coffee.  It very well could be contributing to your skin condition.  

And here’s how…..


Coffee’s Effect on Hormones

With the benefits of a being mental stimulant, coffee’s caffeine content comes with the drawback of raising stress hormones (catecholamines).  These include adrenaline (epinephrine), cortisol and norepinephrine.  This is the reason coffee gives you that boost of physical energy and mental alertness.  It activates the adrenal gland and puts you into the acclaimed *Fight or Flight* mode.

This is great if you need motivation to study or go to the gym.  But, for acne prone skin, not so much.

Unfortunately, adrenaline prompts the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum.  Thus, raising the chances of causing more hair follicles to become blocked and cause more acne.  This also goes for the other stress hormones cortisol.  By the way, cortisol and the immune system don’t like each other either.  And a hampered immune system is going to spend less time fighting acne bacteria.  So avoiding activating these stress hormones with coffee will help acne.  In fact, just avoid stress all together.

Can Coffee Cause Acne?

– But It doesn’t stop there! –

Caffeine also raises androgens.  Which as already mentioned, increases sebum production.

Coffee as a diuretic dehydrates you.  Drinking Water is THE most critical part of any acne regime.  Water flushes out toxins and keep skin moist, pliable and healthy.

Coffee also has a way of using up and depleting several vitamins (B-vitamins, zinc) and nutrients that are essential to skin health.  It also has a way of blocking some minerals from being absorbed into the body, notably iron.

Coffee is acidic.  We want alkalinity.  A more pH balanced stomach is good for all.  And since the Western diet these days is largely acidic eg. bad fats, sugar, alcohol, meats, etc (pretty much everything), coffee isn’t helping.  An acidic diet encourages yeasts and toxins in our gut.  So you can imagine some of these toxins coming out in our skin.  Also, this also may lead to what is known as leaky gut syndrome.  Try drinking lemon water, very alkaline.



Green Powder Superfood DrinkGreen Tea – Probably the best option, with around 20 – 40 mg of caffeine.  A lot less than caffeine that a cup of coffee can pack (100 – 200mg).  Green tea has the added benefits of essential nutrients, L-theanine (considered a nootropic), better metabolism and longevity.  I think it tastes the best out of the following options and its easy to get a hold of.

Decaf –  Decaf is a better option but it still has the drawbacks of coffee.  Like being acidic, a diuretic, and using vitamins.  Probably the least favorable option, only switch to decaf if you’re absolutely addicted to coffee.

Green Powder – My personal favorite.  I mix having this with green tea but I attribute most of the boost from this stuff.  Mostly comprised of superfoods – spirulina, wheatgrass, barley grass, and chlorella, among other things.  It’s not exactly made for the tastebuds but I guess you can go by that if it tastes bad it’s got to be good.

Teeccino – Being non-acidic, Teeccino is a great alternative.  It can still provide a the energy of a cup of coffee without the caffeine through micro-nutrients.

Dandy Root – A not-so-well-known coffee substitute.  Dandy root’s health pluses are never-ending.  Benefits include anti-cancer properties, healthier gut flora, a better working liver and energy, energy,energy.


Trial and Error

If you’re unsure coffee has a hand in your acne, it’s best to cut it out anyway.  Try not drinking coffee for awhile and see the results.  Don’t forget to avoid iced coffee also.  

It will be tough for the first couple of days going through the withdrawal symptoms.  The worst of them will be over though in 36 hours – even for heavy coffee drinkers.  This will be the best way to find out.


You May be Allergic or Intolerant to Coffee

 Of course.  When it comes to anything that your allergic to, it stresses your body out.  Coffee is no exception.  This relates to the point above trial and error.  If you notice though that if you stop drinking coffee and your energy levels improve, you may have been allergic.  Your system is no longer bogged down dealing with what it considers poison.

How Much? And, What Else?

One cup of coffee is considered light.  Three moderate.  Anything over that is probably too much with ten being extreme.  Coffee can last in the system for up to 12 hours.  Therefore, it is suggested not to have any after 2pm as not to disturb sleep.

Disturbed sleep doesn’t let the immune system to do its job, which is heal and recuperate our bodies.  

Not only that but excessive amounts of caffeine comes with a world of problems.  Increased stroke rates, heart attacks, anxiety, general irritability and stomach ulcers.


How Do You Take It? Cream and 2 Sugars Please!

Avoid Dairy and Sugar for AcneNot only can coffee have an effect on your skin but also the things we add.  Milk and dairy products in general are always in the spotlight for the wrong reasons when it comes to diet.  Such things as inflammation and swelling are attributed to sugar and dairy.  

The notion that the human body has not yet evolved to properly digest dairy is one argument.   Another is that it, although we can digest dairy, it is awfully hard on our system.  Milk also may contain testosterone which we know by now is not good for acne.

Sugar, as another frowned upon food when it comes to acne, has more evidence of not helping acne.  Sugar quickly enters the bloodstream prompting a burst of insulin (hormone) to counter the blood sugar levels.  And again, in turn, stimulates sebum production.  NOT good.

To be on the safe side, milk, sugar and cream are probably best avoided.  Although some studies show there is no linking them to acne, I would still stay clear.  Every so often a new argument arises with new evidence that says, “Yay or Nay”.  So who really knows?  No one.  Best to stay away.


To Summarize

Quitting coffee should improve your acne.  By doing so, you may improve your immune system, lower stress hormones, balancing your digestive system, lower insulin, be more hydrated and have more essential vitamins and minerals.  

There are other alternatives to coffee.  So if you still like the mental alertness without the negative side effects coffee has for acne, green tea is an option.  Or, even reducing your coffee intake to just one in the morning will certainly help – and without milk or sugar.


Thank a Bunch!

I hope I’ve helped in some way without crushing your soul.  I could imagine some people a bit distraught at the idea of no morning coffees.  But hey, if you’re serious about clearing your skin, you now know the answer to does coffee cause breakouts is yes.  If you have any questions, queries or would like to add something, just post them below.

Cheers Rohan

2 thoughts on “Does Coffee Cause Breakouts?”

  1. In addition to avoiding B vitamins and coffee, my dermatologist also forbade bananas. Can you tell me why bananas?? I eat one for energy before I workout

    1. Hi Martha, thanks for commenting and that’s a great question. I expect they’ve said that because of the sugar content? I wouldn’t think they’d contribute to acne unless you had some sort of allergic reaction? Rohan

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