6 Amazing Insights on Coffee and Acne

Does coffee cause acne? In this article, we discuss 6 Insights on Coffee and Acne.

Acne is one of the worst enemies to anyone. Acne not only disrupts the clean healthy look of a person but it is also very painful at times. This may even lead to the point where it becomes painful to even feel the skin by hand. 

The correlation between coffee and acne is not new, but the debate goes on whether drinking coffee causes acne.

So, let’s dive into it!

Here Are the 6 Insights on Coffee and Acne –

1. What is Acne? 

Acne, also known as acne vulgaris, is a long-term skin condition that occurs when dead skin cells and oil from the skin clog hair follicles.”  Acne appears as blemishes on the face, neck, shoulder, or back.

There are different types of acne, but the most common ones we know are acne vulgaris. Acne vulgaris includes various blemishes known as whiteheads, blackheads, bright red pimples, etc. 

The skin constantly sheds dead cells, which is a natural way in which the skin breathes. Some of these dead skin cells get out of the body through the pores, which are connected to oil glands.

These oil glands produce a greasy substance called sebum, a natural moisturizer that lubricates the skin naturally.

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When this process slows down, the oil and skin cells combine and clog the pores. This outcome does not stop the body from producing oil or skin cells. So instead of going out, the oil produced builds up underneath the skin and bumps out visibly as pimples or acne.

The final stage of this process occurs when the acne is fully developed and is known as p-acne

To fight back the build-up of oil and skin cells, the immunity system rushes bacteria-fighting white blood cells in the affected area where the bump occurs. The white blood cells then cause redness in the affected area and may appear as small volcanic eruptions, etc.

2. What Causes Acne?

Adolescent acne is a common form of acne, it might occur due to genetics or environmental conditions, heat, sweat, or gym.

Among the different types of acne,  hormonal acne is the most common type of acne. Hormonal acne occurs due to abnormal hormones or hormonal imbalances. Hormonal imbalance not only affects the skin but also causes other hormonal disturbances.

This may include menstrual disturbance, hair fall, and weight gain. It can also lead to changes in skin colour. and darkening of the skin tones. 

Some acne breakouts may occur when we apply cheap or expired cosmetic products. Breakouts can also occur when we do not wash the cosmetics off before sleeping.

Acne breakouts can also occur due to the consumption of gym supplements. It may also be due to heredity, hormonal activity, infections, or diet.

On the topic of diet, Wikipedia says that “high-glycemic-load diets have been found to have different degrees of effect on acne severity.”

3. Does Coffee Cause Acne?

Coffee plants alone, in general, do not trigger acne and therefore are even used to manufacture various skin treatments. Therefore, does this mean that the coffee plant/powder/beans are not the cause of acne?

Coffee, when consumed, triggers a stress response or stress hormone known as cortisol in our body. The cortisol then releases more stress to wake up our body so that we feel more energized. 

Some people react to the skin due to stress, so when they drink coffee, it causes an increase in stress hormones which causes inflammation. This further triggers more acne to form on the skin and worsens the existing acne.

does coffee causes acne?
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Roasted coffee beans are acidic. For people with more acidic bodies and acne-prone skin, this increases the acidity inside the body. The acidity further increases their chance of getting more inflammation.

This kind of reaction does not only apply to coffee beans, which means that the effect does not only refer to coffee.

The coffee-like drinks, decaf coffee, or those made from barley, which gets roasted before consumption, are also acidic and can increase inflammation. 

Apart from this, other ingredients added to the drink can trigger acne as well, which include:

3.1. Dairy Milk

Milk coffee
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Dairy milk plays a huge role in making acne worse as it contains IGF-1(insulin-like growth factor 1). This means that dairy milk is highly insulinogenic.

IGF-1 helps the body produce more insulin, which increases the growth factor. The presence of IGF-1 is one of the reasons why babies consume milk, as infants require nutrition that helps in growth.

The growth factor of a person peaks during the adolescent years, which stimulates the growth hormones in the body. This further stimulates the hormones such as testosterone (or in females, what we call androgens), which helps in the development of stronger bones required for growth. 

When we consume cow’s milk, we increase the level of IGF-1, increasing the amount of insulin in our body. The increase in insulin then increases the testosterone level. The increase in testosterone level then increases the production of sebum that clogs the pores and causes acne. 

The effect of milk consumption on someone varies from person to person. It is assumed by some people that skim milk has a lesser fatty content than whole milk, making it a healthier alternative. But, surprisingly or not, skim milk is not as beneficial as some people assume it to be.

Skim milk produces a hormone similar to IGF-1, which also triggers oil production, so skim milk can still cause sebum production.

The best alternatives for dairy milk include plant-based milk like oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk. Even though milk produced from nuts is thinner than dairy milk, it still tastes good and has a distinct nutty flavour.

3.2. Sugar

When we consume sugar, it breaks down to glucose inside the body and floods the bloodstream. The body reacts to this by producing insulin to counterattack glucose spikes.

The insulin inflames the enzyme attached to collagen on the skin through glycation, leading to the production of acne on the skin. 

The glycation process breaks down collagen and elastin that is present to prevent or reduce the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Glycation not only results in sebum production in the pores but also in eating away precious collagens. 

Also, when we eat sugar, the body stores fat, which can lead to weight gain. This leads to the formation of excess oil in the body, so it is best to cut down our sugar intake as much as possible.

To improve our skin health and reduce severe acne, removing refined sugar from our diet is a crucial step. This can be done by either finding an alternative or cutting sugar consumption from our diet.

a wooden bowl filled with sugar on top of a wooden table
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It is best to cut down sugar slowly from our diet so that it is not even noticeable and eventually remove it entirely from our diet. This way we can enjoy the natural taste of the dish or drink.

4. How Much is Too Much Coffee?

Coffee contains antioxidants that may be good for detox, but it also has a large amount of caffeine content that is not clinically healthy when consumed in large amounts.

Many professionals recommend a maximum of  3 to 4 cups of coffee daily, but this may vary from person to person.

Some people require more to stay alert for the day, but some may even experience shaky hands just after 2 cups of coffee. So the right amount depends on how it makes us feel, and, therefore, best to stop when our body tells us to. 

For health issues like anxiety problems, and insomnia, it is a recommendation to remove coffee consumption from our diet.

Coffee culture has taken the world by storm to the point that it is a daily necessary consumption for many people. So for these people, the best suggestion is to have a nice morning cup of coffee because of a natural rest stress response developed by the body during this period that will not lead to inflammation.

Consuming coffee on an empty stomach is also not advisory as it triggers the stress response. So eating breakfast first, then drinking coffee after is the best order if you can’t cut out coffee from your diet.

5. Coffee Benefits for Acne

Coffee is rich in antioxidants and can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and dark spots. It can also reduce the appearance of sunspots that may occur because the skin lacks nutrition like Vitamin C, so it is more beneficial to apply than to drink.

Using coffee as a face mask can reduce puffiness but does not work for dark circles because. For dark circles, it is best to eat more vegetables for this case. Applying scrubs made from coffee on the skin can reduce cellulitis by tightening the skin.

It is important to note that this is a temporary fix. For a long-term result, it is necessary to maintain a good diet while applying the scrubs.

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Coffee can also reduce signs of ageing by tightening the skin. Applying coffee to the skin increases the blood flow on the skin and increases microvascular flow.

Here, we are talking about natural coffee granules, not chemical coffee. It is important to note that processed coffee has no such benefits on the skin and might even cause harm to the skin. 

Too much coffee consumption can harm the heart and also cause eye puffiness which, ironically, when applied on the skin, can be used to reduce the puffiness.

6. Is Green Tea a Good Substitute?

If you need caffeine to function, tea is a healthier option for caffeine intake, like black tea or green tea, as teas are the best coffee alternatives. 

Green tea is especially the best subsidiary for coffee. The amount of caffeine a cup of green tea contains is only about half of what a cup of coffee contains.

Green tea provides less caffeine which is just enough caffeine content to not cause the jitters. This amount still helps you stay focused and stimulated without the jitters that coffee gives sometimes.

Green tea is also not acidic so it causes no inflammation. It is an antioxidant (EGCG) containing anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation if consumed regularly.

Free Matcha Powder in a Bowl Stock Photo
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The nutrient in green tea, known as L-theanine, relaxes the brain without sedation or drowsiness. It is also beneficial for the heart as it lowers the blood pressure. L-theanine also helps in burning fat with increased metabolism and fat burn.

Another nutrient in green tea, called Catechins, can kill a type of bacteria that can lead to bad breath. It also reduces the risk of cavities. Catechins also decrease the risk of brain diseases like “Alzheimer’s” and “Parkinson’s Disease.” 

So, from this, we learn that green tea has positive cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses.


Coffee is a dearly beloved beverage by people across the globe It is a drink that religiously drinks whether as an Iced Americano, as a Latte, and many more. But this article concludes that overconsumption of coffee, especially with added ingredients like sugar, does no good for our skin and health.

But! It does wonders when applied on the skin as a face mask, scrub, etc. 

So go out there and buy coffee, not at your local cafes, but at your favourite drugstores to purchase coffee products for your skin.

Some people with habitual caffeine consumption find it hard to quit coffee. So for these people, green tea is the perfect alternative as it contains antioxidant-nurturing health benefits.

Don’t drink coffee, apply coffee!

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