Exploring the Impact of Diet on Acne and Skin Health: Insights and Strategies


Acne, a common skin condition, affects millions of people worldwide. While genetics and hormonal changes are well-known contributors to acne, recent research has shed light on the significant role diet can play in skin health. Certain foods and supplements have been identified as either beneficial or detrimental to skin complexion, providing a pathway for dietary modifications to support healthier skin. This article explores specific target foods, supplements, and diet routines that can improve skin health, backed by scientific research.

The Role of Diet in Skin Health

High-Glycemic Foods and Acne

High-glycemic foods, which cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, have been linked to acne. Foods such as white bread, sugary snacks, and sugary drinks can increase insulin levels, leading to hormonal changes that trigger acne breakouts.

In a 2007 study, researchers aimed to find out if eating a low-glycemic-load diet could reduce acne in young males [1]. Researchers recruited 43 males aged 15-25 with acne for a 12-week study. The participants were divided into two groups: one followed a low-glycemic-load diet (25% protein and 45% low-glycemic-index carbs), while the other ate a diet high in carbs without considering the glycemic index. Acne severity and insulin sensitivity were measured at the start and end of the study [1].

After 12 weeks, the low-glycemic-load diet group saw a greater reduction in acne lesions and improvements in weight, BMI, and insulin sensitivity compared to the control group, suggesting  that diet, particularly one with a low glycemic load, may influence acne development [1].

Dairy Products and Skin Health

Dairy products, particularly milk, have also been implicated in acne development. Research suggests that hormones present in milk can exacerbate acne by increasing sebum production.

In one large cohort study, researchers followed 6,094 girls aged 9-15 years from 1996 to 1998 [2]. The girls reported their dietary habits through up to three food frequency questionnaires. Acne presence and severity were assessed via a questionnaire in 1999. The researchers calculated prevalence ratios (PR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for acne, considering factors like age, height, and energy intake [2].

In 1996, girls who consumed 2 or more servings of milk per day had higher prevalence ratios for acne compared to those who drank less than one serving per week [2]. These results remained consistent even when excluding girls using contraceptives or when focusing only on those younger than 11 at the start [2].

A study was also conducted on 4,273 boys that yielded similar results [3].

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce acne severity.

One study demonstrated that participants who took omega-3 supplements showed a reduction in inflammatory acne lesions [4]. That study involved 783 people with acne and 502 without acne as a control group. For those with acne, blood tests were done to measure various factors like insulin and blood sugar levels. The acne group was divided into two subgroups: those whose acne was worsened by food (AF) and those whose acne was not affected by food (NAF). All participants filled out a dietary questionnaire [4].

The control group (without acne) ate more vegetables and fish compared to the acne group. On the other hand, the acne group consumed more instant noodles, junk food, sugary drinks, snacks, processed cheese, certain types of pork and chicken, nuts, and seaweed. Within the acne group, those in the AF subgroup ate more roast pork, fried chicken, and nuts than those in the NAF subgroup. Acne patients also had less regular eating patterns and skipped breakfast more often [4].

Differences were noted in certain blood markers between males and females. The study suggested that diets high in sugar, dairy, fat, and iodine could worsen acne. Irregular eating habits also seemed to aggravate acne [4].

The study found that poor dietary habits, including high consumption of unhealthy foods and irregular meal patterns, are linked to worsening acne. Eating more vegetables and fish might help reduce acne [4].

Therefore, incorporating omega-3-rich foods into the diet can thus support clearer skin.

Healthmasters offers two omega-3 supplements: Norwegian Omega-3 and Cod Liver Oil.

Target Foods for a Healthy Complexion

Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables

Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which can contribute to acne. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries, spinach, and carrots, can improve skin health. Several studies have highlighted the benefits of antioxidants in protecting skin from environmental damage and promoting a healthy complexion [5] [6].

Probiotics and Gut Health

Emerging research indicates that gut health plays a crucial role in skin health. Probiotics, found in yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods, can help balance the gut microbiome, potentially reducing acne. One study noted that those take a daily probiotic supplement may experience a reduction in acne severity, arguing that there appears to be more than enough supportive evidence to suggest that gut microbes, and the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract itself, are contributing factors in the acne process [7].

Healthmasters offers three probiotic supplements: Probiotic 350 Billion, Probiotic 100 Billion, and Probiotic DF.

Green Tea and Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Green tea contains polyphenols with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A study set out to evaluate the efficacy of 2% green tea lotion in mild-to-moderate acne found promising results [8].

Twenty patients with mild-to-moderate acne were included in the study. They applied the green tea lotion twice a day for six weeks. The researchers checked their acne every two weeks, noting the number of acne spots and any side effects. They measured the acne severity using two methods: total lesion count (TLC), which is the sum of papules and pustules, and a severity index (SI), which assigns a number based on the TLC [8].

The average number of acne lesions dropped from 24 to 10 over the six weeks, showing a 58.33% reduction. This reduction was statistically significant. The severity index also decreased significantly from 2.05 to 1.25, showing a 39.02% improvement [8].

The study concluded that a 2% green tea lotion is an effective and affordable treatment for mild-to-moderate acne [8].

Supplements for Skin Health


Zinc is a mineral that supports immune function and reduces inflammation.

One trial found that zinc supplementation at 200mg per day significantly reduced the number of acne lesions in participants with inflammatory acne [9]. Another review noted that zinc’s effectiveness for acne is comparable to certain antibiotics, and that many people are turning to zinc as a popular alternative to antibiotics, especially with the rise of antibiotic-resistant acne bacteria [10].

Healthmasters offers a chelated zinc supplement with its Zinc Glycinate.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A, known for its role in skin cell production and repair, can help reduce acne severity. Retinoids, derivatives of vitamin A, are commonly used in topical acne treatments. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for immune function and skin health [11]. Its deficiency can lead to a weakened immune response and a higher risk of skin infections and inflammatory skin diseases.

Vitamin A works through its active form, retinoic acid, which regulates gene expression in the skin, helping maintain healthy skin and mucous membranes. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to increased susceptibility to skin infections like Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), which is linked to conditions such as atopic dermatitis. The skin’s outer layer produces antimicrobial proteins (AMPs) to fight off pathogens. Vitamin A plays a crucial role in the production of these proteins [11].

Resistin, a protein family with antibacterial properties, is influenced by vitamin A. Studies show that mice lacking Resistin-like molecule α (RELMα) are more prone to skin infections, but vitamin A supplementation boosts RELMα expression and resistance to infection. Vitamin A is used in skincare products for its benefits in skin elasticity, collagen regeneration, and cellular repair [11].

It is available in creams, serums, and supplements, providing antioxidant effects and supporting the health of skin, hair, and nails. While often used by older adults to combat wrinkles, it is also popular among younger people for its antibacterial and exfoliating properties, making it effective for oily and acne-prone skin [11].

Isotretinoin, a vitamin A derivative, is widely regarded as the "Gold Standard" for treating severe acne, with recommended doses of 20 mg/day for 3-6 months. Oral vitamin A supplements can also be effective, but consumption needs to be closely monitored [11].

Beta-carotene, found in plants and fungi, can be converted into vitamin A in the body. It has strong anti-acne and anti-aging properties, promoting collagen production and skin cell regeneration. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, more effective than vitamin E, and helps reduce hyperpigmentation by stimulating melanin production in the skin [11].

Healthmasters’ Cod Liver Oil is an excellent Vitamin A supplement.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties and can help modulate the immune system.

One study’s authors noted that in dermatological conditions, vitamin D has shown promise in reducing severity and promoting healing [11]. It enhances the expression of LL-37, a peptide important for skin repair and immune defense. Topical vitamin D analogs have anti-inflammatory effects, which can alleviate symptoms in conditions like psoriasis by inhibiting excessive skin cell growth [11].

The metabolism of vitamin D involves enzymes like CYP11A1, which regulate skin barrier function and immune responses, highlighting its integral role in skin health. Additionally, melatonin and its derivatives contribute to skin pigmentation and protection against oxidative stress, potentially slowing skin aging processes. Overall, maintaining adequate vitamin D levels through sunlight exposure or supplementation is crucial for supporting skin health and managing dermatological conditions effectively [11].

In another study, researchers aimed to assess vitamin D levels in 80 acne patients and 80 healthy individuals [12]. Nearly half of the acne patients were deficient in vitamin D, compared to about one-fifth of the healthy controls. Lower vitamin D levels were associated with more severe acne, particularly with inflammatory lesions. Treatment with vitamin D supplements showed improvement in inflammatory acne lesions among those who were deficient [12].

Healthmasters offers three Vitamin D products: Ultimate D3 10,000 with K2, Ultimate D3 5,000, and Vitamin D3 Liquid.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

As mentioned earlier, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects that can benefit acne-prone skin.

Omega-3s are commonly found in skincare products like creams and are also taken internally through supplements for daily health maintenance [11]. Studies suggest Omega-3s can alleviate skin inflammation, ease dryness, and reduce irritation, making them beneficial for managing conditions like psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the skin and joints, potentially causing widespread redness and scaling.

Replacing saturated fats with Omega-3s may help mitigate inflammation, potentially slowing the progression of diseases like psoriasis. Omega-3s also show promise in treating atopic dermatitis, another inflammatory skin condition, particularly benefiting children undergoing therapy by improving skin barrier function and reducing flare-ups [11].

Practical Applications and Strategies

Incorporating Target Foods into Your Diet

To incorporate skin-friendly foods into your diet, consider the following strategies:

  • Start your day with a smoothie: Blend antioxidant-rich fruits like berries with spinach and flaxseeds for a nutrient-packed breakfast.
  • Choose whole grains: Replace high-glycemic foods with whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and oats.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds: Keep a mix of walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds handy for a quick, skin-friendly snack.
  • Opt for non-dairy alternatives: Try almond milk or coconut yogurt instead of traditional dairy products.
  • Enjoy fermented foods: Add a serving of kimchi, sauerkraut, or kefir to your meals to boost your probiotic intake.


Stress Management

Stress can exacerbate acne by increasing inflammation and hormonal imbalances. Incorporating stress management techniques into your routine can improve skin health. Consider practices such as:

  • Regular exercise: Physical activity can reduce stress and improve circulation, benefiting skin health.
  • Adequate sleep: Ensure you get 7-9 hours of sleep per night to allow your body to repair and regenerate.



Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining skin elasticity and health. Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Herbal teas and water-rich fruits and vegetables can also contribute to your hydration needs.


Diet plays a pivotal role in skin health, with certain foods and supplements offering significant benefits for reducing acne and promoting a clear complexion. Incorporating antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, probiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet can support skin health, while supplements like zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin D can provide additional benefits. It is essential to adopt a holistic approach to skin care, including a thoughtful diet, stress management, and hydration. Still, by making informed dietary and lifestyle choices, one can achieve and maintain a healthy, radiant complexion.


[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17616769

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17083856

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18194824

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20822969

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7935815

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8776015

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3038963

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19363854

[9] https://www.medicaljournals.se/acta/content_files/files/pdf/69/6/69541543.pdf

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4120804

[11] https://www.mdpi.com/1648-9144/60/1/68

[12] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161162