Does Caffeine Cause Acne?

Many of you, especially those readers who are American, probably enjoy at least a few cups of coffee in the morning to help wake you up and keep you going throughout the day. Even if you don’t drink coffee, perhaps you have an occasional soda or cup of tea.

Have you ever considered whether or not these food products are affecting your skin? Many people claim that your diet can have an effect on your skin, while others say that it’s all nonsense and you can eat and drink whatever you want. So what’s the real story? Does your diet indeed have something to do with your acne breakouts?

I’ve set out to answer the question once and for all: Does caffeine cause acne?

What is Caffeine?

You can find a detailed and more scientific explanation on Wikipedia (here), but in short caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant which is found in many foods and drinks that we all consume daily.

Found naturally in some plants (such as coffee beans and tea bush leaves), the caffeine in those plants remains in the infusions extracted for human consumption.

The primary effects caffeine has on the body is that it wards off drowsiness and helps to keep you awake longer. This is why coffee is such a popular drink in the morning, when people are feeling tired and need something to help them get going.

Foods & Drinks Containing Caffeine

Caffeine is found in many of the foods and beverages that most people consume on a daily basis. Some are commonly known, but others may surprise you. Here is a short list of foods and drinks that contain levels of caffeine.

  • Coffee
  • Cappuccino
  • Espresso
  • Tea
  • Sodas (Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, etc.)
  • Energy Drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Certain Chewing Gums (Most caffeinated gum is advertised as such)

Is There a Link Between Caffeine and Acne?

This is the big question: does caffeine actually cause acne?

Well unfortunately for us who are suffering from acne and want answers, no one really knows. There have never been any conclusive scientific studies done on the effects of caffeine on acne.

There was a study that seemed to demonstrated that caffeine may lower occurrences of skin cancer, but this says nothing about whether caffeine has any effect at all on acne.

Despite the lack of scientific research, the general consensus seems to be that caffeine itself does not directly cause acne or make acne breakouts worse. Although most evidence is anecdotal (people giving their personal experience), it seems like we can come to a reasonable conclusion that caffeine alone is not what is triggering your acne, nor is it preventing your acne treatment from clearing your skin.

There are also many people who claim that yes, caffeine does make their acne worse. In the next section I give a possible explanation for this when I discuss the indirect ways caffeine might affect acne.

Indirect Ways Caffeine Can Cause Acne

Even if the caffeine itself isn’t causing your acne, it’s still possible that consuming caffeinated products might make your skin worse.


Caffeine is considered to be a mild diuretic, which means it dehydrates your body. When you are dehydrated, your skin often suffers as a result.

Sleep & Stress

Consuming too much caffeine triggers your andrenal glands, and releases stress hormones into your body. These hormones are known to have a negative impact on the skin, including on acne. Many people have discovered that when they get more stressed out, their acne breakouts tend to get worse.

Also, people who consume caffeine later in the day often have trouble getting a good night’s rest, and a lack of sleep is yet another cause of stress on the body. If your body isn’t as well rested as it needs to be, your skin will often pay the price in the form of acne.

Dairy Products in Coffee

So maybe the caffeine itself isn’t making your skin worse, but have you ever thought about what else is in your coffee?

Many people add milk or some type of cream into their coffee without really thinking about it, but there is a well known link between dairy products and acne. You could possibly try to drink your coffee black, or use non-dairy substitutes and see if your skin improves.


Ultimately, like so many things when it comes to controlling acne, it really comes down to your own personal experience and whether or not you find that caffeine is making your acne worse.

Some people can drink as much coffee as they want and have perfect skin, while others just have a soda once in a while and they breakout afterwards. If it seems like your acne is getting worse when your caffeine consumption increases, it’s probably not a bad idea to cut down or eliminate caffeine from your diet altogether and see if the situation improves.

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