Does Coffee Cause Acne? – Is Coffee the Reason for Skin Breakouts?

A few years back, I started getting acne. My clear skin wasn’t so clear anymore and I kept applying masks and searching for remedies, but not once did I consider searching for the reason. I didn’t initially consider thinking about my favorite beverage being the reason for my acne. So, does coffee cause acne? What is the relationship between coffee and acne? Let’s find out!

Is coffee the reason you have Acne?

I couldn’t help but notice that during that time, I was studying, working, and volunteering. My days were crazy and I consumed large amounts of coffee every day.

My coffee maker was my best friend. You wouldn’t see me without my thermal cup, and iced coffee was always there for summer. So I thought, can coffee give you acne? How are coffee and acne related?

What in Coffee Causes Acne?

Can coffee make you break out with acne? Well, yes, and no. The answer is a bit complicated. Coffee contains some ingredients that provoke acne, but what exactly in your cup of coffee causes that and is bad for your skin?

So, can milk and sugar in your cup of coffee be the cause of your acne? Let’s check this out…


You’ll say that milk is healthy and it has vitamins. I know, but there’s a link between milk and acne. If your regular coffee is latte, cappuccino (What’s the difference between a Cappuccino and Frappuccino?), or includes milk then you’re more likely to get acne.

So you tell yourself, okay I only add low-fat or skimmed milk. Unfortunately, it’s proven to be worse. Fat isn’t really the culprit here.

Milk or dairy products are among the things that trigger your acne the most, and that’s why.

A study shows that people who consume milk and dairy products are more subject to acne, which might be due to some components in milk such as the growth factor or IGF-1, and also DHT that makes your skin oily, hence more acne.


If you consume large amounts of sugar on a daily basis, then you should know that processed sugar is your skin’s enemy. Whether you add it to your coffee or you consume it by eating a donut or a cake along with your morning coffee, it’s harmful. Why?

Sugar affects your skin by producing sebum, which triggers acne and It causes inflammation that worsens your acne. Also, too much sugar can make your body immune to insulin. So, in short, drink coffee without out or with low amounts of dairy milk and sugar and you reduce the chances of bad skin from your morning cup of coffee – Does Coffee Have Calories? How many Calories are in Black Coffee?.


Caffeine is a double-edged weapon. It’s not necessarily bad for your skin, but too much of it is bad.

Here’s what it does. It simply makes you alert, therefore more stressed. It raises the level of cortisol, which overproduces oil and sebum.

All of that can worsen your acne.

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Does Coffee Help With Acne?

You’d be surprised to know that the answer to that is yes. Coffee has antioxidants that improve your skin. Maybe having a cup of coffee, or even many cups, doesn’t help that much, but applying it to your skin works in a couple of ways.


Coffee ground is a great exfoliant. You can use it to scrub your face and it’ll remove the dead skin cells. Now that won’t remove the acne altogether but it’ll help unclog the pores. You can easily make that scrub at home by using coffee ground, brown sugar, and oil.

It’ll help your acne and it can also reduce the cellulite so it’s a 2-in-1 scrub.


There’s also a DIY mask that you can apply for acne. You add ground coffee (Can you use already brewed coffee grounds for that?) and milk, apply the mixture to your clean face, leave it for a few minutes, and then rinse.

Besides acne, applying coffee also works for puffy eyes, for tired face, and for pale skin. So it’s a home remedy that you can easily apply.

Should You Switch to Tea Instead to Avoid Acne?

If you’re going to cut your morning coffee, you’ll need a replacement. Do you think tea can do the job without triggering your acne? Yes.

Of course, if you’re opting for tea then you know you shouldn’t be adding milk or processed sugar to your cup. Tea is rich in antioxidants, and those are good for your acne. According to studies, it lowers the level of insulin in your body as well as lowering the level of DHT.

Tea is a good replacement as long as you don’t drink too much of it, there are different types of tea as well.

Black Tea

Black tea is less in acids than coffee. It won’t trigger your acne, and it’ll soothe your skin. While black tea has a reasonable amount of caffeine that can benefit your skin, too much of it might not be as healthy.

Green Tea

Green tea is rich in catechins, which is considered as an antioxidant. It also has epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG that reduces the level of sebum in your skin, which means less acne.

Besides drinking it, I’ve actually applied green tea as a mask before and it did soothe my skin.

White Tea

This tea goes through minimal processing, that’s why it has high levels of antioxidants and zinc. It reduces stress and it can also help in curing acne scars when applied.

Herbal Tea

This one doesn’t have caffeine. It has lower levels of fluoride, and fluoride is known for increasing acne.

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Is Drinking Coffee Bad for Your Skin?

Drinking coffee can keep you dehydrated, which means that it’ll dry your skin, but consuming it in a reasonable amount can be good for your skin. That’s how it benefits it.

Protection From UV Rays

Consuming coffee can work as a sunscreen as it protects you from the ultraviolet rays produced by the sun.


According to some researches, the caffeine in coffee has been proven to reduce the levels of inflammation, which soothes your skin. This might still be controversial.

The theory about that goes like this; when you drink coffee, the caffeine blocks adenosine molecules to wake you up, but it also blocks the inflammatory molecules, leaving an anti-inflammatory effect. 


Coffee has caffeine and polyphenol, which were proved to help in anti-aging. It also has antioxidants that prevent your skin from aging. Moreover, drinking reasonable amounts of coffee can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Lower Risk of Skin Cancer

Studies show that coffee consumers are less likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer. It’s mainly because of the caffeine since it has an enzyme called ATR that targets damaged cells from UV rays.

Why Does Coffee Make My Skin Break Out?

Coffee itself doesn’t make your skin breakout. It’s mostly how you drink your coffee and the aftermath. If you drink your coffee with large amounts of processed sugar and milk, that will cause breakouts – What if you’re using Soy Milk in Coffee though?

If you consume large amounts of coffee, that can cause breakouts too. Also, having a cup of coffee in the afternoon or before going to bed, can affect your sleeping schedule, and you know that a good night’s sleep is beneficial for your body and skin.

There are other ways that coffee causes breakouts.


Coffee makes you stressed, when you’re naturally stressed for any reason, your body produces stress hormones. Coffee overproduces these hormones even when there’s no reason to be stressed.

And when stressed, the level of insulin is increased. It’s not only about increasing the level of insulin, but it’ll also make you insulin resistant.

Craving Sugar

When you’re stressed you sometimes crave sweets and desserts. And as you know, all are made from processed sugar and dairy products, so that can’t be good for your acne.

Gut Flora

Moreover, coffee is rich in acids (How Acidic is Coffee?), and that can affect your gut flora since the acids will kill the bad bacteria along with the good ones. That will lead to an inability to absorb nutrients from food.

When your gut flora isn’t healthy, you’ll be more likely to experience inflammation and therefore acne.


One way to worsen your acne is by having low levels of minerals, and drinking coffee can actually impact your absorbance of minerals. Try to avoid drinking coffee with meals so that you can benefit from them.


Coffee has mycotoxins, that are basically molds growing on plants. The lower the quality of coffee, the more mycotoxins it can have.

Those mycotoxins affect the immune system, and when you have a weak immune system, you’re more subject to acne.

Does Black Coffee Also Increase Acne or Only With Sugar?

No, it’s actually healthier to drink your coffee black, no milk, and no sugar. Also, try not to eat sugary food with it. If you can’t taste it without sugar, then try adding natural sweeteners.

Black coffee (Black vs White Coffee) doesn’t increase acne but that doesn’t mean you can drink 10 cups a day. Too much is never good, so just keep your coffee intake from 3 to 5 cups per day.

And you can always add a dash of cinnamon or a dash of cocoa to your cup when you get bored of your black coffee (How many beans to make a cup of coffee?). Both options are beneficial to your health.

Try not to drink your coffee late in the afternoon to rescue your sleeping schedule and your skin too.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, the link between drinking coffee and your acne is somehow complicated. While coffee might not cause the acne directly, it could worsen it.

In some cases, it can be good for your skin. You’ll just need to change your coffee drinking habits, and notice the difference.

After all, you are what you eat.

Is coffee the reason you have Acne?
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