Chocolate and acne: are they actually related?

Naturally, we relate chocolate with acne breakouts. What to experts say?

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.

There is no evidence that cocoa beans, from which chocolate is made, cause pimples. And while some point to the sugar that also makes up a portion of all chocolate treats, even that evidence is weak.

According to CNN, in a recent study, participants were randomly assigned to eat a chocolate bar or 25 jelly beans, both of which provided the same glycemic load, an indicator of how high blood sugar will rise after each portion of food. All patients received both "treatments." Interestingly, jelly beans didn't have an effect on acne. But when people ate chocolate, their pimples increased.

"We found that, on average, people had about five more pimples with the ingestion of chocolate," said study author Dr. Gregory R. Delost of the Department of Dermatology at University Hospitals, Cleveland Medical Center. "Some people might say, five pimples, no big deal, but if someone is getting ready for their high school dance ... then five pimples is definitely clinically relevant in that situation.”

Based on his findings, Delost is convinced that chocolate can make your acne worse, though he admits that by giving participants milk chocolate, he didn't tease out an important variable. "There's a lot of literature about milk causing acne, so that would be the big fault in my study.”

Acne is a complex skin problem, and breakouts come and go without a specific cause.
But unfortunately, that may mean giving up the indulgence, at least some of the time. "Everybody has their own triggers. If chocolate breaks you out, stop eating it," Farris said.

Berman agreed. "It's simple. If you experience acne outbreaks after eating even moderate amounts of dark chocolate, unfortunately, limit or stop eating chocolate.”

If a particular food seems to cause more breakouts for you, avoid eating it. But remember, there is no direct link between any specific foods to the development of pimples.

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