Is your favorite sweet treat really the cause of unfair blemishes? Chocolate has long been blamed for breakouts, but is the treat you crave really at fault?
Since 1969, chocolate has been studied as a possible contributing factor to acne. Could it be the fat, the sugar, or even the chemicals used to create those decadent bars that cause breakouts on your skin? Here’s what science says.
What the research says
Historically, studies have been dismissed due to additional ingredients in the chocolate -- like milk and sugar -- that may also impact the skin.
Early studies on chocolate and acne actually used chocolate bars and control bars (candies that were loaded with sugar, often with even more sugar than the chocolate versions).
These inconsistencies led to contradictory results and suspect study methods, all of which have kept the chocolate debate alive. So it’s no surprise that after decades of research, there is still no clear answer.
Some studies point to chocolate as the acne culprit
Some research suggests that chocolate may exacerbate existing acne or encourage new breakouts in acne-prone skin. A
However, this reaction hasn’t been proven in humans.
Another small double-blind, placebo-controlled
The study found that there was a positive connection between the amount of cocoa ingested and an increase in acne symptoms.
A 2017 study found that just 48 hours after eating chocolate, college students with acne had more new lesions than their peers who ate a comparable amount of jelly beans.
Others dismiss the chocolate-acne link
More research with larger, more diverse samples is needed to confirm the findings and determine what compound in the chocolate may potentially increase inflammation and worsen symptoms.
Chocolate’s effect on insulin has also been put forward as a possible influence on acne. An
While there’s limited evidence that supports the idea that pure chocolate can give you pimples or make a breakout more severe, the other ingredients in the bar or cake are a different story.
Related: Anti-Acne Diet
What we know about diet and acne
A 2017 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that carbohydrate-heavy and sugar-rich foods (like bagels, white rice, and that chocolate cake) may be related to acne and its severity.
So, will chocolate affect your skin?
Do you need to swear off that nightly indulgence and throw out the stash hidden in your desk in the name of clearer skin? Not necessarily.
Whether chocolate affects acne comes down to the individual. Despite decades of research, there has been
But that doesn’t mean that diet has no influence.
It’s more likely that the sugar in your chocolate bar or cupcake are to blame for new pimples or deeper breakouts than the cocoa itself.
If you’re going to take a bite (or six), reach for dark chocolate and keep an eye on added sugars and simple carbohydrates throughout the rest of the day.