Why Does Coffee Break Me Out?

Your worst nightmare has happened; you have finally started to link drinking coffee with your skin breaking out.

Food and drink acne triggers can be a frustrating experience that is common among acne sufferers. It's no fluke; there is science-backed reasoning as to why coffee is causing you to break out.

In this article, we will go over why your skin breaks out after drinking coffee and what you can do about it.

The Reasons Coffee Can Cause Acne

Researchers have begun to link certain foods and beverages to the cause of some people's acne. With each person, there is a different acne trigger; some of the most common are milk, coffee, and chocolate.

An easy way to find out what is causing your acne is to remove a food item from your daily routine and see if it makes a difference before including it back into your diet. When we drink coffee today, it is common to add things such as milk, sugar, or coffee creamer. These coffee additives may be the culprit, and not the actual coffee itself.

Below are some of the most common coffee ingredients and their effects on our body's hormones.


One of the main reasons that people drink coffee in the first place is its natural caffeine content. Caffeine will make you feel alert and awake, but on the downside, it increases your body's stress response. Studies show that a large cup of coffee almost doubles your body's stress response hormones.

The quick fluctuation of these hormones causes your skin's sebaceous glands to produce more oil than usual; this overproduction will reduce the efficiency of your skin removing dead skin. When your skin cannot properly shed the dead skin, the gland will become clogged and inflamed, resulting in breaking out.

Another possible cause of ingesting caffeine is the toll that it takes on the quality of your sleep. Caffeine has been proven in studies to affect people's sleep patterns by delaying your body's natural sleep clock. While removing coffee from your diet is recommended, if you are suffering from sleeping problems, and you want to enjoy coffee still, do not drink it 6 to 8 hours before going to sleep. If you are highly sensitive to caffeine, opting for 10 to 12 hours before bed is a better choice



If you like to add milk to your coffee, this is also another common acne trigger. Milk causes your hormones to speed up the production of sebum in your skin. Fast creation of sebum can result in the blockage of your skin's pores, which is the leading cause of acne.

If you are a teenager, milk has a higher likelihood of adverse effects compared to adults. This increased likelihood is due to teenagers having higher sebum production already. When you add hormones that increase sebum production of already oily skin, you have a recipe for breakouts. Skim-milk was shown to have the most significant effects on teenagers in studies.

A solution you could take for this common trigger is using alternative kinds of milk, such as almond milk or soy milk. These types of milk do not have the acne-causing hormones that standard milk includes.

I can tell you from personal experience how significant of an effect that dairy has on the skin. By eliminating milk from your diet, your hormones will reduce their drastic changes that affect your skin. While studies currently don't prove that milk is a cause of acne, there are enough experiences that strongly link the two together.


Let's just say that straight black coffee is an acquired taste. In most cases, we add sugar to our coffee to reduce the bitterness of the coffee and make it more enjoyable to drink. In today's coffee shops, the creation of coffee can have upwards of 50 grams of sugar in a single drink.

That is double our recommended intake of sugar each day. Each time you consume high amounts of sugar, you will increase the amount of insulin released in your body, which is a cause for acne.

One study found that individuals who consumed added sugar had a 30% increase in their risk for developing acne. Sadly, more natural alternatives like honey have the same effect on your body as white sugar does. Reducing the amount of added sugar or drinking black coffee can reduce the likelihood of you developing breakouts.


lady drinking water

Coffee is a natural diuretic that causes your acidity levels to rise that can cause dehydration. When dehydrated, you don't have the essential vitamins needed for healthy skin. When your body's natural hydrating process is impaired, you will start to bloat and lose water-soluble vitamins that are critical.

When your body is dehydrated, your skin's sebaceous glands do not produce enough oil, causing your skin to become dry and flaky.

When your skin notices these dry patches of skin, it will go into overdrive to create even more oil. This overproduction of your skin's oil is the leading cause of acne. By lowering your intake of coffee, you will reduce the acidity in your body that causes dehydration and stop your skin from becoming too dry.

Too Much Bad Bacteria in the Stomach

When you develop a high caffeine resistance and consume a large amount of coffee, you may develop dysbiosis inside of your gut. Dysbiosis simply means that you have created an imbalance of bacteria in your stomach due to consuming large amounts of acidic coffee. This causes many health effects, not just acne struggles.

Dysbiosis causes many digestive related problems that will relate to the increase in acne due to the lack of good bacteria needed to fight the small infections that acne causes.

It is recommended to prevent dysbiosis, to limit your coffee intake to 1-2 cups each day. This will restore the natural balance of your digestive system's bacteria, which will reduce you from breaking out. You may also speed up the repair process by eating things containing probiotics such as yogurt or kombucha.

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