Reviewed by

Morgane Leten - Nutrition & Fertility Coach


From Breakouts to Beautiful Skin: How Your Diet Can Help You Fight Hormonal Acne

Reviewed by

Morgane Leten - Nutrition & Fertility Coach

We've all been there. You wake up in the morning, ready to take on the day, only to be met with an unwanted guest on your face - a big, angry pimple. Hormonal acne affects so many of us, and it can be a real confidence killer. But don't worry, there's hope! Did you know that the food you eat can have a major impact on the health of your skin? That's right - what's on your plate could be the key to keeping your hormones in check and your skin clear. 

In this blog post, we'll dive into the world of hormonal acne, discussing the root causes of those pesky breakouts and the dietary changes you can make to help support a healthy complexion. So, let's get to the bottom of this issue and start eating our way to clearer skin!

The Relationship Between Diet And Hormonal Acne

We've all heard the age-old adage "you are what you eat," but when it comes to our skin, it turns out that there's a lot of truth to that statement. For years, dermatologists and estheticians alike were skeptical about the role that diet played in the development and management of acne. However, as nutritional science has continued to evolve, we're starting to see more and more evidence that the food we put into our bodies can have a major impact on our skin health. 

Recent studies have solidified the link between diet and inflammation, as well as the influence of various hormones on acne severity. Specifically, insulin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and androgens (like testosterone) have all been shown to play a role in the development and persistence of hormonal acne. So, if you're looking to take control of your skin health, it's time to start paying attention to what's on your plate!

Foods That May Trigger Hormonal Acne

While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to skincare, there are certain foods that can trigger acne flare-ups in some individuals. In this section, we'll take a closer look at some of the culprits that may be wreaking havoc on your skin, so you can make informed choices about what you're putting into your body. By eliminating or reducing these foods, you may be able to take a big step forward in your journey towards clear, healthy skin.

High Glycemic Index (GI) Foods

We all know that sugary treats and starchy carbs can be oh-so-tempting, but did you know that they could also be contributing to your hormonal acne? It's true - foods with a high glycemic index (GI) can wreak havoc on your skin by spiking your blood sugar levels and causing your body to produce more insulin. This increase in insulin production can then lead to a rise in both IGF-1 and androgen levels, two hormones that are strongly linked to acne. 

So, if you're struggling with breakouts, it may be time to take a closer look at your diet and see if you're consuming too many high GI foods. Some common culprits include:

  • Candy
  • Baked goods
  • Soda and juice
  • White and whole wheat bread
  • Sweetened cereals and bars
  • Chips and crackers
  • White rice
  • French fries. 

By swapping out these foods for lower GI alternatives, you may be able to better manage your hormonal acne and achieve the clear, healthy skin you've been dreaming of.


Ah, good old dairy - the cause of so many acne woes. But before you swear off all dairy for good, know that not all types are created equal. While yogurt and cheese seem to be pretty safe bets for most people, milk is a different story. That's because milk contains two proteins - casein and whey - that can exacerbate acne by increasing levels of IGF-1. And if you thought using whey protein supplements would be a safer bet, think again. These protein powders can also cause breakouts in some individuals. Plus, milk can also stimulate insulin production, which can make acne even worse. But before you dump your milk down the drain, know that the connection between dairy and acne is nuanced and personal. It's all about finding what works for you and your skin. So, if you're a milk lover and you're not experiencing breakouts, go ahead and enjoy that glass of milk with your cookies. But if you do notice that dairy seems to be causing acne flare-ups, it may be time to switch to a non-dairy alternative or limit your intake.

Inflammatory Fats and Oils 

Inflammatory fats are the sneaky culprits behind many of our acne woes. These refined vegetable oils are particularly problematic:

  • Canola oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Peanut oil

These oils are commonly used in packaged and processed foods, making it easy for them to sneak into your diet even if you aren't using these oils for cooking. They're loaded with omega-6 fatty acids, which can increase inflammation in your body and exacerbate acne. Of course, omega-6s are important for our health - but they need to be balanced with omega-3 fatty acids, which actually help reduce inflammation. When the balance is off and omega-6s reign supreme, that's when acne can rear its ugly head. So, next time you're reaching for that bag of chips or bottle of salad dressing, take a look at the ingredients list. If you see any of those inflammatory oils, consider swapping it out for a healthier option - your skin (and body) will thank you for it!

Highly-Processed Food

It's no secret that ultra-processed foods are the sworn enemy of clear skin. They're like the "Mean Girls" of the food world, always causing chaos and mayhem. These foods may seem tempting at first, but they're nothing but trouble. They're loaded with refined carbs and processed vegetable oils, making them a surefire way to worsen hormonal acne. So, if you're looking for clear skin, you might want to avoid the following things: 

  • Fast food
  • Candy
  • Ice cream
  • Chips
  • Crackers
  • Some frozen packed foods. 

Studies have found that traditional diets without these ultra-processed foods were virtually acne-free until they were introduced. Don't let processed foods be the villains of your skin story!


Let's talk about the elephant in the room: alcohol. We've all been there, one too many glasses of wine and suddenly we wake up with a breakout that looks like we went to bed with a pizza on our face. It turns out, alcohol can mess with our hormones, making it a potential problem for some of us with acne-prone skin. Research shows that both estrogen and testosterone levels can spike after drinking, and this imbalance can lead to worsening acne. Plus, some alcoholic drinks, like sugary cocktails, can also increase insulin production, leading to more acne. So, while a glass of wine here and there won't hurt, it's essential to be mindful of how much alcohol we consume and how it can impact our skin.

Want to know more about how alcohol impacts your cycle? Read our post called Cheers to Being a Woman

Diet for Hormonal Acne

If you're struggling with hormonal acne, a dietary strategy can help you manage and reduce breakouts. It's not just about avoiding foods that trigger acne, but also about incorporating nutrient-rich foods that can support your skin's health. In this section, we'll explore some of the best foods that help with hormonal acne and provide a comprehensive diet plan to help you achieve radiant skin.

Foods High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Who knew that the secret to clearer skin could be hiding in your food? Omega-3 fatty acids may just be the superhero that your skin needs to fight acne. These fatty acids balance out the pesky omega-6 fatty acids that cause inflammation and acne. Not only that, but they also have the power to reduce the production of IGF-1, a hormone that is known to make acne worse. So where can you find these amazing fatty acids? Look no further than the seafood section of your grocery store. Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are loaded with omega-3's. If you're not a fan of seafood, you can also get your fix from chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts. And if you're not a big fan of any of these foods, supplements are always an option. Just make sure to choose a high-quality option. So go ahead and add some omega-3 rich foods to your diet, and watch as your skin starts to glow from the inside out!

Probiotic-Rich Foods

When it comes to fighting acne, incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet could be a game-changer. Probiotics have been shown to influence the inflammatory response, lower IGF-1 and androgens, and improve gut health. In fact, a small study found that taking a Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG probiotic for 12 weeks improved acne symptoms and lowered IGF-1 levels in the skin. Plus, if you suffer from acne, you may have an imbalance of gut bacteria, so adding probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, kefir, and coconut yogurt to your diet could help to balance your gut flora and ultimately benefit your skin. So, the next time you're at the grocery store, don't forget to pick up some of these delicious and beneficial foods!

Fruits and Vegetables

If you want to support your skin and keep hormonal acne at bay, one easy way to do that is to load up on a variety of colorful fruits and veggies. Not only do they add vibrancy to your meals, but they also contain polyphenols that have antioxidant activity to lower inflammation in your body. And let's not forget the skin-promoting nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin A that are packed in there too. Another bonus? Many fruits and vegetables are low on the glycemic index, which means they can help support healthy blood sugar levels and insulin response. So why not experiment with some new produce and see how it can benefit your skin and overall health? Some examples of fruits and veggies to add to your plate include:

  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Berries like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
  • Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potatoes and carrots
  • Tomatoes and bell peppers
  • Apples and pears
  • Melons like cantaloupe and watermelon

High-Fiber Foods

Including fiber-rich foods in your diet is an important strategy for fighting acne. Research has shown that a diet low in high-GI foods can decrease IGF-1 levels in the blood, which can help reduce acne. Additionally, fiber is essential for maintaining a healthy gut and a balanced microbiome

Here are some examples of high-fiber foods that are also lower on the GI scale:

  • Vegetables and fruits 
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Quinoa

By incorporating more of these foods into your diet, you can help support healthy blood sugar levels and promote clear, healthy skin.

Zinc Rich Foods

If you're struggling with hormonal acne, you may want to consider incorporating more zinc-rich foods into your diet. Zinc is a mineral that has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce the severity of acne. In fact, low levels of zinc have been linked to more severe breakouts. While oysters are the top source of zinc, not everyone may be a fan of these slimy creatures. Fear not! Other foods that contain zinc include crab, lobster, pumpkin seeds, lentils, beef, quinoa, and chicken. So go ahead and add these foods to your grocery list to help support clearer, healthier skin. You can also get zinc from a supplement.

Milk Alternatives

If you're someone who loves milk but has been struggling with hormonal acne, it may be worth experimenting with milk alternatives. Some people find that reducing or eliminating cow's milk from their diet can help clear up their skin. Cow's milk contains hormones that can disrupt our own hormone balance and contribute to inflammation, which can exacerbate acne. Luckily, there are plenty of milk alternatives to choose from, such as almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, oat milk, and more. Not only are these options generally lower in hormones, but they also provide different nutrients and flavors that can add variety to your diet. So why not try swapping out your morning cow's milk latte for an almond milk latte and see how your skin responds?

Eating for Optimum Health: Your Skin Will Thank You

It's important to remember that hormonal acne is a common issue for many women, but there are ways to take control of it. By making small changes to your diet and incorporating nutrient-rich foods, you can help to support your skin's health and overall well-being. So next time you're grocery shopping, remember to add some of the foods we've mentioned to your cart, such as fish, fruits, vegetables, and probiotics. Remember, healthy skin is not just about what you put on your skin, but also what you put in your body. So don't be discouraged, with a little effort and the right foods, you can achieve the glowing, radiant skin you've always dreamed of.