5 Myths About Food and Your Skin

Some Foods Improve Skin Health, Others Have the Opposite Effect

There are foods that have been proven to improve skin health, but many others can have the opposite effect on your complexion. With so many rumors about food and your skin it can be confusing to decide which diet to follow for glowing skin. Find out which foods get the thumbs up and which are too good to be true.


Myth: What You Drink Doesn’t Matter

foods for good skin
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You can’t go wrong with drinking water. But other types of liquids can have a negative impact on your skin.

High sugar beverages like soda, energy drinks and sweetened teas can disrupt the formation of collagen, the connective tissue that gives skin structure and keeps it firm. Booze is also troublesome. The diuretic effect of alcohol can easily suck hydration away from skin.

On the flip side, there are some sippers that may benefit the skin, including alcoholic beverages like red wine. Dr. Kathleen Suozzi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine tells wine lovers exactly what they want to hear.

“Red wine IS actually great for skin! Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant that is found in red wine and is responsible for many of the benefits of red wine. It is also added to topical skin care products.”

It's important to note that more isn't better when it comes to wine, excessive amounts can do more harm than good. If you choose to drink alcohol then red wine may be the most skin-friendly option.

Bottom line: Stay away from the rum and cola. For optimal skin health, sip on lots of water and sensible portions of red wine if you choose to drink alcohol.


Myth: Your Skin Doesn't Care About Carbs

While there are plenty of myths swirling about carbs and your waistline, red flags involving carbs and skin health may be off your radar. Foods with a high glycemic index (a scale that measures how dramatically carbohydrate-rich foods affect blood sugar) may be related to acne flare-ups. Processed foods with high amounts of sugar are some of the worst offenders.

Bottom line: Instead of processed carbs, choose foods with a lower glycemic index like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, lentils and whole wheat bread.


Myth: All Oils Are Bad

Eating greasy and high fats foods can be bad for you for many reasons. But the misconceptions about oils and skin health need some clearing up.

While eating fried foods has been known to increase inflammation, oils rich in omega-3 fats—like those found in salmon, flax and walnuts—can actually help keep skin inflammation at bay.

Some oils can also be used topically to help improve your skin.  Coconut oil can be used as a make up remover and skin cleanser to remove impurities. Dr. Suozzi explains that “the oil is able to pick up dirt and makeup more effectively.”

Bottom line: Consider eating more omega-3 rich fats and using some oils topically for cleansing and make up removal.


Myth: Avoid All Dairy

Quite possibly the biggest food and skin controversy is surrounding dairy products and their influence on acne.

If you cut dairy out of your diet you eliminate important nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D. But there is some research to support the idea that skim and low fat dairy may exacerbate acne issues. So what’s a milk lover to do?

Dr. Suozzi helps clear up this complex issue. “Dairy can potentially flare acne in predisposed individuals … and skim milk is probably worse than whole milk.” But let’s not put all dairy in one basket. Suozzi adds that dairy-rich foods such as hard cheese are less of a concern.

Bottom line: There are plenty of dairy sources that are acne-friendly. Work with your dermatologist to work out the best dairy plan for your skin.


Myth: Choose Honey for Facials

The internet is exploding with recipes and recommendations for honey-filled moisturizers, cleansers, and masks. Honey is often recommended for its sweet taste, antimicrobial properties, ability to quell a cough, and it may also benefit wound care. But don't be fooled by claims to indulge in regular honey facials. According to the experts, it’s not ideal for a regular skin care regimen.

Bottom line: Enjoy honey as a sweetener instead of a skin care treatment.

For clear, glowing skin, eat a nutritious diet, get plenty of rest, and participate in healthy physical activity.

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to skincare, it pays to be a skeptical consumer. You'll see claims on product packages that promise great results with food-based products. In many cases, the claims are exaggerated. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, so use common sense, and remember what you see on the outside starts on the inside. Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, and if you have skin conditions that need medical attention, work with a board-certified dermatologist.


Larosa CL, Quach KA, Koons K, et al. Consumption of dairy in teenagers with and without acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;75(2):318. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2016.04.030

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