Like many people, you probably have a morning ritual that you perform. You wake up, stretch, take a shower, get dressed and you’re either getting breakfast or just a cup of the delicious black liquid called coffee.
It’s the world’s most popular beverage, with more than 2 billion cups of coffee consumed every day worldwide. It’s tasty, it keeps us awake for all those late nights working, or focused and energized while studying for final exams.
But, is it all good? Does coffee cause acne? Recent researches have shown that coffee might play a role in acne outbreaks. Yes, your favorite beverage has been related to one of the most common skin problems, so let’s see in what ways.
So What’s The Deal?
Before we explain, let’s talk about coffee. Coffee is made from more than a thousand little components. The most known of them is, of course, caffeine, which makes it a good stimulant and mood-enhancer. But, coffee also contains antioxidants – diterpenes, potassium, manganese, and niacin, which can be beneficial for health
Coffee has been known to increase focus, enhance your mood, lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and even decrease the risk of the cognitive decline that comes with old age.
But, for all its benefits, there are also some downsides to coffee consumption. There are more ways in which coffee can trigger or worsen acne.
- Coffee causes sugar cravings – as it increases focus and awareness, it also puts the body in stress and causes increased production of stress hormones. Our body responds to stress by demanding foods rich in sugars, and they, in turn, can make your acne worse.
- Coffee makes your body resistant to insulin – according to many researchers, insulin is known to cause acne. High levels of insulin can affect our sebaceous glands, forcing them to produce more oil, which can clog our pores and cause acne. Why? Well, the higher the level of insulin, the less we are capable of breaking down sugar. Insulin is responsible for regulating the sugar in our body, keeping it at an optimal level. High levels of insulin equal high levels of blood sugar, and as many pieces of research and people claim, sugar causes acne.
- Coffee can cause hormonal imbalance – our body functions according to a pretty delicate system dependent on cause and effect. Higher levels of some hormones can cause an imbalance in others. As hormones are considered to be the number one culprit for acne outbreaks, drinking it while you have acne can cause further outbreaks or even worsen the ones you currently have.
- Mixing it with other ingredients – statistics show that less and less people like to drink their coffee black. More people like to add cream or sugar to enhance the taste. As dairy and sugar are proven to be the products in our diet with the highest chance of causing acne, adding them to coffee can create the perfect breeding ground for acne.
- Coffee affects the intestines – coffee is highly acidic, meaning it can have a detrimental effect on the intestinal lining. Its acidity can also destroy some of the good bacteria, the ones we need to break down food. This can, in turn, affect the absorption of nutrients that we need in order to function properly.
- Coffee can lower the body’s ability to absorb nutrients – in our stomach, coffee compounds can react with other nutrients, binding them and making them hard to absorb. Some of these nutrients include zinc, iron, calcium, selenium, manganese, and others. These are the types of minerals our body needs in smaller doses and as simpler compounds.
- Coffee has a high level of mycotoxins – mycotoxins are toxic compounds that are produced by the mold that grows on coffee beans. These can cause poisoning if ingested in large quantities. Although their levels are pretty high in coffee, they are far below the line which would make them a health hazard. In fact, they are present in many foods and drinks like cereal, beer, wine, peanut butter, meaning they are hard to avoid. Of course, no one wants to put something potentially poisonous in their bodies, but you would need to drink more than 100 cups of coffee every day to ingest an amount that can harm you in any way.
But I Love Coffee!
Yes, many people do. And many of them are aware of what coffee does, and still don’t give up drinking. If you take into account that sometimes, you can reduce your acne breakouts by changing your diet and some habits, giving up coffee is something you definitely might want to consider.
Now, giving up coffee is no easy task. Our body can go through withdrawal if we cut off caffeine abruptly. So try these steps:
- Start by reducing your daily coffee intake little by little. You can kick it faster if you find a substitute for caffeine. Chocolate and some teas also contain caffeine, so they should be your first go to. Watch out on the chocolate though. Sugars cause acne too, remember?
- Find yourself another morning drink. This way you will get rid of the habit of drinking coffee. Tea and infused waters are a good choice. But if it feels difficult, try decaffeinated. It contains much lower levels of caffeine but it can help with the withdrawal symptoms.
- It’s normal to feel some fatigue and lack of focus at the beginning, so make sure you stay hydrated. Water can also have a beneficial effect during this period, it will provide you with more focus and keep you feeling refreshed.
- The fatigue will also make you crave sweets, so make sure you resist that urge. Your body will beg for it, you will feel as if you must have some, or you will fall asleep. But don’t worry, this is a normal phase. Stay put, don’t reach out for the cookie jar and, day by day, you will feel much better.
Not easy, but worth the ordeal. You won’t see any drastic improvements right away, but gradually there will be results.
Okay, Fine, But What Can I Substitute It With?
There are many things you can start drinking in order to substitute coffee. These are our recommendations:
- Green tea – you in need of caffeine? Start brewing green tea. It has slightly lower doses of caffeine, but it should give you the boost you need early in the morning. It has many other health benefits, and is rich in antioxidants!
- Black tea – if you really need caffeine, go for black tea. Rich with caffeine almost as much as coffee itself. It also helps reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
- Chai – this beverage is a derivative of black tea. It has a better taste though, with spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and allspice. This beverage will give you the much-needed push to start the day.
- Wheatgrass Juice – yeah, this natural energizer sort of has a bad reputation as it’s considered the elixir of life by health junkies. But that can’t change the fact that wheatgrass has a high nutritional value, with many essential minerals and vitamins being part of it. Although it doesn’t taste so good, a shot of it in the morning might be just what you need to kick-start your day. On a positive note, it’s really light for the stomach and it gets absorbed really quickly.
- Smoothies – why not? Starting your day off with a smoothie can be fantastic. They taste good and they are full of nutrients. Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, the whole deal! Get your choice of fruits and nuts, and start mixing yourself some fruity goodness.
- Matcha – while this healthy beverage might not give you the caffeine you crave, it will do wonders for your body in general. Rich in antioxidants, minerals and other nutrients, matcha is something you should really try if you want to improve your general health. The taste can be a little too strong and bitter for some, so that is why commercially available ones have added sugars (sugar isn’t good for the skin!). So make your own matcha at home and sweeten it with stevia
Sad but true, the answer to the question “does coffee cause acne?” is as follows: coffee can make acne worse, although we won’t go as far as to say it can trigger them. We will wait for science to confirm or deny those claims. But, keep in mind that drinking coffee is by no means good for your face. Acne is not easy to deal with, and finding the right culprit for its outbreak can take some time. Only then you can start working towards finding a solution.
All in all, removing coffee from your diet might not remove acne, but you will have one less thing that can make them worse. Before you decide on quitting coffee, talk to a doctor and have your acne examined. They could be caused by many different factors, and if it’s something more serious quitting coffee might not be essential – but finding the appropriate medication will be.