Does Chocolate Cause Acne?

Woman eating chocolate

Somewhere along the line, maybe your mother or grandmother had suggested to you that your acne was due to your regular chocolate consumption. The claim that chocolate consumption and pimple production are positively correlated – meaning that as an individual consumes more and more chocolate, their skin will produce more and more pimples – came from a handful of studies which were conducted almost fifty years ago. Shown in these studies was a significant increase in acne after participants had ingested cocoa powder. Seems pretty legit, right? Around that same time, similar clinical trials had found opposing results, that chocolate consumption had, in fact, no effects on acne.

If you’re unfamiliar with the research process, it’s important to understand that conflicting studies are completely normal when trying to make a discovery of any sort; in fact, by showing different results, medical and research mavens are able to gain a better understanding in the long run. It just so happened that during this time, dermatologist, as well as other medical professionals, clung to the idea that chocolate was not to blame, while the average Joe whose profession was unrelated to the topic, got hung up on the idea that chocolate was at fault. The problem is that the studies that yielded both positive and negative results were done, as we mentioned, about a half of a century ago! Research methods, such as the data collection, reporting of results, and regulation have changed since then, which means that these studies may not be as reliable today.

So, is chocolate really to blame for all your bad-skin-day blues? Well… yes and no. A group of researchers at the University of Miami conducted a study (found in the May 2014 issue of The Journal Of Clinical And Aesthetic Dermatology) of 14 participants. When all was said and done, it was discovered that participants who consumed varying amounts of chocolate, over the course of a seven-day period, had experienced between 140% to 433% more pimples at the end of the week.

But just wait a second; don’t throw out all your chocolate just yet! When conducting studies, researchers are encouraged to consider factors that may have limited their findings. A major limiting factor of the 2014 study is that there weren’t many people in the study. There was also no control group in this study, which means there were no non-chocolate eaters, meaning that no comparison can be drawn. For more information on the findings and limitations, refer to the above-mentioned journal.

Although this study and others similar have found evidence that chocolate and acne may be related, there is yet to be substantial findings that conclude that chocolate causes acne. Keeping that in mind, there are a number of studies that have shown that consumption of sugar, carbohydrates, and dairy are all connected to the skin’s production of pesky pimples. Coincidently, all three of these things are found in chocolate.

As with many rumored beauty myths, it may or may not be true. If you notice that your skin acts up when you’re eating more junk food, let this be your reminder to reach for a healthy snack. Likewise, if your skin is a frequent trouble, it may not be worth it to avoid all things chocolate, as there may be a bigger problem at hand.


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