If You Still Have Acne After Going Vegan, Read This

I’ve had acne most of my life. I had it as a teenager eating meat and cheese, and then I had it as a vegan adult for over a decade. Only in the past two years have I been able to 95% clear up my acne. It turns out food was a big part of the problem… but I was surprised which foods.

The biggest causes of acne on a vegan diet are sugar (including some fruits), high-glycemic carbohydrates (including some whole grains), and omega-6 rich vegetable oils. In addition to limiting these foods, many vegans with acne also benefit from taking supplemental zinc, probiotics, omega-3, and vitamin D.

In this post, I’ll share with you everything I’ve learned from my years of research and experimentation to clear up my own acne. I truly believe this is the best resource about acne for vegans currently on the Internet. So please, read closely, and apply what you learn!

This post includes affiliate links for resources that have helped me on my acne journey. If you use my link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Why a Vegan Diet Clears Up Acne for Some People… But Not All.

A vegan diet often clears up acne because it eliminates milk and dairy.

I have multiple vegan friends who tell me they used to have acne, but it cleared up when they went vegan.

And there are many testimonials about this online, too. But why does a vegan diet often clear up acne?

  • Dairy is one of the worst acne foods. Acne researcher William Danby has referred to milk as “‘nature’s perfect food’ for the creation of acne.” So any diet that makes you remove dairy and milk will likely help with acne. For this reason, both vegan and paleo diets often help with acne.
  • Vegan diets often include more vegetables and whole foods. Many people go vegan with the goal of improving their health, so they also increase vegetable intake, switch from refined to whole grains, cut sugar intake, or make other healthy swaps.

Those are the reasons a vegan diet often helps clear up acne… But what explains the fact that it doesn’t always? And why did I personally still have acne for 10+ years as a vegan?

  • Sugar is the other biggest cause of acne. If dairy is the king of acne foods, then sugar is the queen. And many vegans still eat a lot of sugar. Some people might even eat more sugar when going vegan, especially if they switch to a “high-carb vegan” diet focused on fruit (more on this below).
  • Vegetable oils can cause acne, too. Processed food today is all fried in vegetable oils, most of which are high in omega-6 fats and depleted of omega-3. This gives us a huge imbalance of omega fats in our bodies, causing inflammation. And acne is an inflammatory condition.

Considering these points, vegans who go “whole food plant-based” are even more likely to get clear skin. But even if you remove all sugar and all oil, some vegans will still have some acne. What explains that?

Vegan Diet Still Causing Acne?

Here are a few more key factors that a lot of people don’t know about acne and diet:

  • It’s not just sugar that matters… but glycemic load. The glycemic index (GI) measures how much a food spikes your blood-sugar. Some carbs rank as high-GI despite not containing any sugar. And these foods can cause acne for the same reasons as sugar. And even some “whole grains” are high-glycemic. I’ll cover which ones below.
  • Some fruits can be a problem. If you’re eating a high-carb vegan diet focused on bananas and dates, for example, that may cause acne for some people (like me). More on this below.
  • Nuts can apparently be a problem for some people. For the same reason as vegetable oils—omega-6 vs omega-3 balance—some people have problems with peanut butter, nuts, or sunflower seeds. These foods haven’t been a problem for me, but this may be an issue for some vegans.
  • Acne is complicated and can have many causes. Acne science has improved in recent years… but there are still many inputs that can affect whether you get acne. It could be the cleanser you’re using, stress, gut health, or even your B12 supplement. (More on these various causes below.)

That’s the bird’s eye view. Now, let’s look at the top acne-causing vegan foods in more detail, so you know exactly what foods you need to avoid to clear up your acne.

Vegan Foods That Cause Acne

It took me a lot of painful experience to learn what I’m about to teach you. It took years of trial and error, and probably hundreds of hours of reading.

So please, read closely and learn from all my mistakes!

1. Sugar (Including Some Fruit)

oil-free vegan snacks
Larabars are a healthy option many vegans love—but they’ve given me breakouts. They each contain about 20 grams of sugar from dates.

On a vegan diet, sugar is probably the worst food for acne. I know this from my own experience, and from the research.

Processed sugar especially is up there with dairy products as being widely known to cause acne. (source)

How does sugar cause acne?

Eating sugar spikes your blood-sugar levels… which spikes your insulin levels… which increases sebum production on your skin. Then, excess sebum can clog your pores and lead to a P. acnes bacteria infection… and the inflammatory response to it makes those red spots we all know.

So, it’s this whole chain of cause and effect. But one of the keys of clearing up your acne with diet is blood-sugar control and insulin control.

Which sugary foods should you avoid? Ideally all of them—at least while you’re trying to figure out if this is a very sensitive trigger for you.

Processed sugars are the most obvious, unhealthy foods to remove. But for me, I found that even bananas and dates are two of the worst foods for my acne.

This doesn’t necessarily mean all fruit will cause acne. Some fruits are much lower in sugar and shouldn’t be a problem. I eat about a cup of strawberries most days, and that has not been an issue for me.

Here are some of the potentially worst kinds of fruit for acne:

  • Dates, raisins, and other dried fruits.
  • Ripe bananas (soft, spotty ones).
  • Canned fruits that come with syrup.
  • Fruit and nut bars, like Lara Bars (usually made of dates).
  • Fruit juice.

Here are some of the safer fruits for acne, at least when eaten in reasonable portion sizes. These are lower in sugar and glycemic load:

  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Prunes
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Apples

This list of “safe” fruits is one of the many things I learned from Cheryl Woodman’s course Acne Warrior. Acne Warrior is honestly the best acne science resource I’ve learned from, and it was a huge part of clearing my acne.

If you’re serious about figuring out your acne, I really do recommend checking out Acne Warrior.

But anyway, let’s get into some more carbs you should be wary of!

2. Other High-Glycemic Carbs

Cereal has probably been the #1 biggest villain on my acne journey.

For the same reasons that sugar can cause acne, other high-glycemic carbs can, too. Even some “whole grains” that are generally healthy.

For me, this was the biggest revelation on my acne journey.

We all know processed sugar is unhealthy—but some of the other high-glycemic carbs that can cause acne are more surprising.

It started like this: I noticed I had a huge breakout the day after I ate 2 big bowls of shredded wheat cereal.

Hmmm, shredded wheat is supposed to be healthy. It’s made of “whole grains.” And there’s no added sugar in the kind I was eating.

Then a month later, I noticed I had another big breakout the day after eating “rice puffs”—another bland, whole-grain cereal. I thought I was in the clear with these healthy cereals because they didn’t contain “sugar.” But I was wrong.

The way some grain products are processed, they can spike your blood sugar without any “sugar” added. Shredded, puffed, flaked, and ground (flour) carbohydrates can be trouble.

Brenda Davis, RD, explains the “whole grain hierarchy.” She discusses why many whole grains still have a high glycemic load. This video *really* helped me understand which carbs to avoid. Watch it!

For me, cereal was the biggest problem. I kept switching to “healthier” whole-grain cereals, but they kept giving me acne. In theory, there are low-glycemic cereals—some versions of muesli or All-Bran, for example—but I found it best just to quit cereal all together.

I also noticed a smaller pimple one day after eating a bowl of pasta the night before. That was another little piece of evidence suggesting processed grains may be a problem for me. (This is why it’s useful to keep a food journal in an app like Cronometer.)

For me, pasta and vegan pizza don’t seem to be quite as bad as cereal. And popcorn seems okay for some reason? But I’m still wary of them (and any processed grains) these days.

I’ve even had a couple smaller breakouts that could only really be explained by the bread, brown rice, or sweet potatoes I ate the previous day.

My most recent breakout came after eating a vegan banana bread muffin. I should’ve known better. I figured just one muffin may be a small enough serving that it wouldn’t cause a breakout… but it definitely did—3 big, inflamed pimples the next day!

I’m not saying your skin is the same as mine. But if you’re feeling lost and confused about what’s causing your acne, I recommend trying a low-glycemic vegan diet for a couple of weeks. See how it impacts your skin.

Basically, for the trial period, limit your carbs to just beans and non-starchy vegetables. And other than that, eat a low-carb vegan diet, like basically “vegan keto.” Lots of nuts, seeds, avocado, and vegan protein.

I’ll share some more details on the specific diet that helped me clear things up below!

3. Omega-6 Rich Vegetable Oils

Now, we get to the most likely reason why some people get breakouts from oil and even from nuts: Omega-6 vs omega-3 balance.

And especially—it’s excess omega-6 fat from certain vegetable oils.

We need omega-3 and omega-6 oils for good health—they’re “essential fatty acids.” But when present in excess, omega-6 is inflammatory, while omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. (And acne is an inflammatory skin condition.)

It’s believed that in ancestral environments, we likely ate close to a 1:1 balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fat. But today’s Western diet has a ratio of 10:1 to 50:1, skewed heavily to omega-6 fats—because everything is fried in vegetable oil! (source)

If you read the book Clear Skin Diet by Nina and Randa Nelson (Amazon link), they basically teach a low-fat vegan diet as their cure to acne. They’re friends with Dr. John McDougall, and they advocate his “starch-based diet” approach. (It’s a form of “HCLF veganism.”) And their regimen dictates: No oil.

I have some criticisms of Nina and Randa’s book—mainly that it doesn’t address the issue of high-glycemic carbs. That said, their program does work for some people, and it may be due to removing those omega-6 rich vegetable oils.

I haven’t witnessed the impact of omega-6 rich oils as definitively in my own food journaling, compared to high-GI carbs. But I still keep an eye on which oils I’m taking in.

These are the highest omega-6 oils, which I try to avoid:

  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil (very common in processed and fried food)
  • Sunflower oil (very common in chips)
  • Safflower oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Sesame Oil

And below are some oils lower in omega-6. These are not necessarily health foods—read my full post on why any kind of oil is not great for you—but the following oils are less likely to cause acne:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Canola oil
  • Walnut oil (not for cooking)
  • Flax oil (not for cooking)

Side note: Could all oil cause acne? I recently learned that blood lipid profiles may also explain how oil of any kind can lead to acne. This study shows that people with acne had higher blood triglyceride levels and higher LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol than people without acne.

Meanwhile, oil consumption (of any kind) has been shown to spike blood triglyceride levels. And consumption of saturated fats like coconut oil and palm oil also raise LDL cholesterol. (I covered the evidence for these claims in my post all about oil.)

So honestly, if you were trying to put together a very thorough acne elimination diet, I would personally be tempted to suggest all oil be removed for the strictest phase. That said, I’ve been doing fine with some olive oil and canola oil personally.

4. Other Vegan Foods That Could Cause Acne

These ones are not as dramatic or universal. For most people, I think the above points about sugar, high-GI carbs, and omega-6 fats are the main probable issues, by far. That said, I figured these could be worth mentioning, too.

• Excess Vitamin B12 or Vitamin B6. You might see some reports that B12 supplements can cause acne for some people. Indeed, there are some reports of this in the scientific literature, especially with B12 injections. This might concern you, as most vegans take a regular B12 supplement.

I recommend Mic the Vegan’s video on this subject (below). His conclusion is that it’s only been shown as an issue for like 10% of people getting B12 injections. We don’t know if high-dose B12 pills could cause the same thing or not. That said, if you want to be cautious, you can switch to a lower B12 dosage (50mcg or a few hundred mcg, rather than 2,000+ mcg per day).

Mic the Vegan reviews the science around whether B12 could be causing acne in vegans.

• Chocolate. There’s a lot of controversy over whether chocolate causes acne. I’m not going to summarize all the arguments and counter-arguments here. Instead, I’ll just embed a video below that does a great job explaining it, with a focus on a high-quality, placebo-controlled study that showed cocoa powder did indeed increase acne.

In my personal experience, low-sugar chocolate products do not seem to be a big acne trigger for me. And like I said, it’s controversial whether it causes acne at all. But some evidence suggests it can.

Dr. Michael Greger explains the research on whether cocoa powder and chocolate cause acne.

• Sunflower Seeds. This study of 50 patients with acne concluded that “Sunflower seed intake appears to aggravate acne vulgaris.” It could be due to the high omega-6 fat levels in sunflower seeds (see above section on omega 6). That said, I was eating sunflower seeds regularly at one point as part of a diet that was resulting in pretty much no acne, for me personally.

Supplements to Take to Clear Up Vegan Acne

This is a fun section because taking a supplement is easy. Much easier than massively changing your diet. And there are good studies showing that certain supplements can reduce acne severity significantly.

I’ll list these supplements in order from most highly recommended to more optional ones.

1. Zinc

All vegans with acne should probably take a zinc supplement. This is the one I take. Check the price and reviews on Amazon here.

Zinc is the most commonly agreed-upon supplement for acne.

Studies have shown that acne patients have considerably lower levels of zinc compared to those without acne. Studies also show people’s acne reducing around 50% with zinc supplementation. (source)

Zinc fights acne on several fronts: It’s antibacterial, it’s anti-inflammatory, and it’s an antioxidant. Plus, it help blocks DHT on the skin, it helps your body use vitamin A better (another anti-acne vitamin), and it does some other stuff that’s more confusing to understand.

Add to this the fact that vegans in general tend to have lower zinc levels than meat eaters, and a zinc supplement is a no-brainer if you’re a vegan with acne.

I take 22 mg of zinc picolinate (Amazon link) each day since that was the form of zinc used in at least one of the studies. If you take a different form of zinc, you might want to look into the bioavailability of that form.

You could probably take up to 50 mg of zinc per day with no problems—some sources recommend it—but don’t go crazy with 100+ mg or anything. If you get too much zinc and no copper to balance it, you can become copper deficient.

Also, always take your zinc with food. Taking it on an empty stomach can make you nauseous.

2. DHA/EPA (Omega-3)

This is my daily source of omega-3. It also comes packaged with vitamin D and B12. It’s a multivitamin of the nutrients vegans are actually low in! Read my full review of it here.

I explained above that omega-6 rich oils can be some of the worst foods for acne. Well, you can tip your omega fat balance in the positive direction by adding omega-3s.

When I say “vegan omega-3s,” you might just think of flax seeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds.

While those are healthy foods, they likely won’t provide enough of the right kind of omega-3 to help with acne.

Those seeds I just listed all contain omega-3 in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). But this is actually a precursor to the types of omega-3 that your body most needs—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

And your body is pretty inefficient at converting ALA into DHA and EPA. So you should ideally get a direct source of DHA/EPA.

Most people get DHA/EPA from fish or fish oil supplements. But on a vegan diet, you have to go to algae oil (or algal oil).

There are lots of vegan omega-3 supplements made from algae oil. Here are two that I can personally vouch for:

1. The Future Kind Essential Multivitamin. This is the multivitamin I take every day. It includes close to 300 mg of DHA/EPA, along with vitamin B12 and vitamin D. These 3 nutrients are the only supplements recommended by Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org. They’re the ones vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of the Future Kind multivitamin here.

2. Zenwise Vegan Omega-3. Lately, I’ve also been taking this supplement, for additional omega-3 on top of the multivitamin. Is that necessary? Probably not. But I like to know I’m getting enough. These add an extra 450 mg EPA/DHA per serving. Read reviews and check price on Amazon here.

3. Probiotics

Here are the probiotics I take. They’re confirmed vegan, and they have 15x the normal survivability of probiotics actually populating your gut. Check it out on Amazon here.

It’s becoming more and more known that gut health affects skin health.

In fact, there are plenty of YouTube videos where people share how they cleared their acne, and the magic answer is… probiotics!

The possible issue with taking a probiotic supplement is that your stomach acid might kill the probiotics before they reach your gut.

Some sources say it’s more effective, therefore, to just eat fermented foods for probiotics. I definitely experimented with adding sauerkraut to my diet for this reason. But I haven’t committed as much as some people do—I don’t love the taste.

Other sources say the best strategy is just to eat prebiotic foods—specific kinds of fiber that feed your good bacteria.

Potatoes are a great food to eat for this reason, due to their resistant starch content. Some people even do a 3-5 day all-potato diet as a “gut reset.” I covered that in my post about potato cleanses. But potatoes may be too high-glycemic for some people’s acne.

Other common prebiotics that people recommend are acacia fiber and inulin, which are both often taken in powdered form as supplements.

What I personally do now is take LoveBug’s probiotic supplement (Amazon link), which are confirmed vegan. Their caplets are designed to allow 15x as many probiotics to survive down through your stomach acid into your intestines.

I also try to follow LoveBug’s recommendations about when to take these probiotics: 15-30 minutes before breakfast, with a full glass of water. This gives the best possible conditions for the probiotics to survive and populate your gut.

4. Vitamin D

Studies have shown that people with acne tend to have lower vitamin D levels than those without acne. Studies also show that supplementing with vitamin D can reduce acne by up to 35%.

What’s more, vitamin D is a nutrient that vegans should be supplementing with anyway. It’s possible to get it from soy milk or other fortified foods, but especially in the winter, many vegans have low vitamin D levels. (source)

As far as choosing a vegan vitamin D supplement, I would recommend getting a vitamin D3 that is made from lichen. Vitamin D3 has better data to support its efficacy than vitamin D2 (which can be found in mushrooms).

Most D3 supplements are made from lanolin, which is a product of sheep’s wool. So look for vitamin D3 that is clearly labeled as “vegan.”

Here are my two recommendations for vegan vitamin D supplements:

1. The Future Kind Essential Multivitamin: I already listed this above for omega-3s, but again, it includes vitamin D and vitamin B12, too. Read my full review on why this is my daily multivitamin (includes a 10% discount code).

2. Doctor’s Best Vegan Vitamin D3: Before I found Future Kind, I took this as my daily vitamin D. The dosage is just right, and the price is great. I had no complaints and would recommend this one if you’re not going for the FK multivitamin. Check the price and reviews on Amazon.

5. Other Supplements to Consider

I feel a bit less confident about recommending the following supplements, but they each do have significant evidence behind them. So you may want to look into them.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is used in many ways to combat acne, including in topical treatments. In fact, the famous drug Accutane is a version of vitamin A. But some sources recommend just taking a vitamin A supplement, too.

I looked into it, and vegans can be low in vitamin A. This is because most of the “vitamin A” in plants is the pro-vitamin form—it’s not readily usable by your body.

Therefore, I do personally take this vegan vitamin A supplement (Amazon link). But that said, I’m not as confident about it compared to the other recommendations above.

Berberine: Berberine is a compound found in barberries, which have the highest antioxidant content of any berry in the world. Barberry extract has also been shown to help reduce acne significantly in this study.

Barberries have been shown to reduce acne. For this reason, some people take berberine supplements. Personally, I just put dried barberries in my oatmeal. Check them out on Amazon here.

The mechanism for berberine to help with acne may have to do with blood sugar control—it’s also a helpful supplement for many type-2 diabetics (source).

Personally, I started adding dried barberries to my oatmeal instead of taking another supplement.

Dried barberries are a little sour, but I’ve grown to like them. You can order some on Amazon here.

The study that showed barberries clear acne had test subjects take about the equivalent of 3 teaspoons of barberries per day. So I try to add about that much to my oatmeal, along with strawberries, too—sometimes I do a bit less for taste preferences.

Vitamin E: I’ve definitely considered adding vitamin E to my regimen, but I haven’t yet. I can’t remember the exact reason why. I can be pretty skeptical about adding new supplements to my diet. I don’t want to put something in my body if I don’t feel confident that it’s safe and likely to be helpful.

Selenium: Studies have shown selenium supplementation can reduce acne (source, source). Some places in the world—mainly northern Europe, I believe—there are low selenium levels in the soil.

So if there’s low selenium levels in your area, you may especially want a selenium supplement. Or you may just want to eat 1 or 2 brazil nuts every day (they each have about the amount you want).

More Practical Tips for Clearing Your Vegan Acne

Mix up your diet and observe the results. One of my biggest acne breakthroughs came when I was running low on groceries one month. I’d eaten up all the high-glycemic foods in my apartment, including all the fruit. I was just eating beans, brown rice, broccoli, oatmeal, and popcorn.

To my surprise, my face got mostly clear.

Another time, I noticed I had a big breakout right after we got a big new batch of groceries. Turns out, it was because we had re-stocked on cereal, and I had big meals of it right away.

I also noticed my face getting extra clear one month when I replaced my cereal with chia seed pudding (sweetened with sugar-free protein powder—recipe below). So I made that switch permanent.

Other vegans have reported that their skin got clear after switching to oil-free cooking, or making other diet changes.

If you use an app like Cronometer to track what you eat, it’s a lot easier to notice what foods are leading to your breakouts.

Keep a journal of everything you eat. This will help so much with noticing your acne triggers. It can be so frustrating trying to problem-solve what’s causing your acne—but it’s 10x harder when you’re not even tracking your food.

Usually for me, acne shows up roughly ~1 day after I eat a problem food. Tracking everything lets me gather data about foods I suspect based on when my acne gets worse or better.

I track my food in Cronometer, and I really do recommend it. It shows all your nutrient counts for the day, too!

Because I’m tracking what I eat, I can go back to cross compare what I was eating before several different breakouts, and see if I can find a pattern. It’s really helped my ability to learn my own specific acne triggers.

• Check any facial products at CosDNA.com. If you paste a list of ingredients into this page, it will tell you (for free) whether each ingredient could be causing acne or irritating your skin on a rating of 0 to 5.

If there’s a high number near the top of the ingredients list, it’s probably wise to swap out that product. I found my facial cleanser had a pretty major irritant as the first ingredient after water, so I stopped using it right away.

Also, only wash your face once per day. More than that, you’re just disrupting things too much. When I first got clear, I was honestly just washing my face once per day with tap water and nothing else.

(These last two tips are things I learned from Cheryl at Honesty for Your Skin, who is honestly one of the best teachers when it comes to acne stuff online. She’s not vegan, but she does take vegans into account with certain parts of her Acne Warrior course.)

The Exact Vegan Diet That Finally Cleared My Acne

I ate the foods listed below and nothing else for a month, and my acne pretty much entirely cleared.

Now, I’m not saying this is the one and only anti-acne vegan diet. Cheryl from Honesty for Your Skin includes a lot more acne food tips in her Acne Warrior course.

But here’s what I ate that got me clear before anything else:

Chia seed pudding—the yummiest part of my day. This was made with Orgain’s vanilla protein powder. Usually, I go for the chocolate. Both are good. Check them out on Amazon here.

Chia seed pudding. Chia seeds are high in good omega-3 fats and free of high-glycemic carbs. The challenge is to make the pudding tasty enough to enjoy without adding sugar. My solution: Protein powder sweetened with stevia and erythritol (0-calorie sweeteners).

Here’s my typical chia seed pudding recipe:

  • 10 oz of unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 scoops of Orgain protein powder (Amazon link)
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • Shake it up in a sealed container and leave it in the fridge for 6+ hours to congeal, then eat with a spoon.

Scrambled tofu. Tofu is another healthy low-carb option, high in protein, too. And the way I make it, you get the anti-inflammatory benefit of turmeric and greens, too.

Here’s my scrambled tofu recipe—feel free to add extra vegetables to this:

  • 14 to 16 ounces of tofu (a full block)
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • just a little black pepper (it boosts the benefits of the turmeric)
  • a handful or two of greens (I usually do arugula or spinach)
  • Mix up in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Scramble it around at some points. Adds the greens closer to the end.

Some similar things I’ve been having a lot lately are textured vegetable protein (TVP), tempeh, and Soy Curls. These are 3 different forms of soy protein you can eat. All of them are healthy, relatively unprocessed, and acne-safe (at least for me).

Anti-Acne Oatmeal. The wrong way to do oatmeal is putting in a bunch of sugar, whether from bananas, maple syrup, or brown sugar. Instead, use lower-sugar fruits like berries for taste. Here’s what I personally do:

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (more health omega-3’s)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons dried barberries (shown to reduce acne)
  • I first heat it in the microwave for 3 min. Then I break up the strawberries into smaller parts. Then microwave for 2 more min.

Vegetable and bean soups. Vegetables and beans are two of the safest, best food groups for acne. You can make homemade soups or get store-bought ones. Personally, I like Amy’s Lentil Vegetable soup, but it’s expensive compared to homemade.

If making your own soup, keep in mind: It’s best not to add oil, or only add oil that’s low in omega-6, like olive oil, for reasons covered above. And be wary of going too heavy on potatoes, which are high-gyclemic.

I also had these foods:

Nuts reportedly cause some vegans acne, but a few handfuls per day has not been a problem for me.

Nuts: Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, peanut butter. Some people report breakouts from nuts, possibly due to the high omega-6 fat content in many of them. But I’ve found they’re not a problem for me—even when I was eating ~400 calories/day of them.

• Popcorn: I suspected popcorn might be a problem because it’s a puffed grain—I thought it might be high-glycemic. But with my food journal, I noticed that popcorn was not causing any problems. I’d just be a little wary if it’s popped in a high-omega-6 oil like soybean oil.

Any other vegetables: I’ll often take a handful of baby carrots from the fridge when I’m in the kitchen. I also do vegetable dishes with lots of broccoli and cauliflower with an avocado-based sauce, and that causes no problems for me.

I suspect that roasted veggies in olive oil should be fine. I’ve had it quite a few times without noticing problems, but I could still collect stronger data on that.

You could probably include a lot of other foods, too, especially any beans and vegetables. A whole grain like quinoa or brown rice might be fine. But I try to keep the portions of grains small, focusing on the vegetables and beans in the dish.

In fact, since I wrote the original draft of this guide, I’ve gotten more strict about limiting rice. I just keep seeing examples where it’s the only explanation in my Cronometer record for a pimple I got.

• Beverages. I drink a lot of seltzer water, and that’s been fine for my skin. Zero-calorie drink mixes like MiO Vitamins seem to be fine, too. And like I said, artificially sweetened protein powders in unsweetened plant milk has been fine (I use almond milk).

Again, Cheryl’s course Acne Warrior is the best resource I’ve found for acne diet tips. It includes a big list of “yes,” “no,” and “sometimes” foods.

If You Want to Finally Fix Your Acne

Following the above tips, you should be able to see significant reductions in your acne. But you have to actually follow them.

For myself, I’ve found that even one high-sugar meal can potentially cause a big breakout. And then it’s inflamed and angry for like 3 days, and the faded mark even stays on my face for a month or more. So clearing things up takes time and patience.

And honestly, because of how confusing that “trial and error” process can be… I don’t really recommend doing this alone.

On my journey, I’ve found that investing in the best education has really paid off. If you’ve found helpful advice in this post, please recognize: It’s only because I’ve invested in the best acne guidance and education online.

If you want to finally be done with acne, I strongly recommend checking out the Acne Warrior course. Cheryl is the best teacher I’ve found for science-based acne advice. She can give you the full roadmap for diet, supplementation, and topical treatments.

I mean, I didn’t even cover topical skincare tips in this post! But it can make a huge difference, too—because of your skin’s pH balance, bacterial environment, and more.

One Last Thing…

Trying to solve your acne on your own is just so frustrating. I know because I tried that for years. And oh my god—it was the bane of my existence.

Trying to fix your acne without a good roadmap is like stumbling around in the dark.

Every few weeks or so, you go through the same routine: You try changing something new in order to clear your skin… And it seems to be working at first! So, you get all excited!

Maybe, just maybe, you think, you’ve finally fixed this and you’re going to have clear skin! Finally! Yes! It’s working!

And then… a few days later… what is that? You start getting 3 more big pimples out of nowhere… And you come crashing back down to reality.

And it just doesn’t make sense. You’re following everything you read online. You’re doing everything you heard about on YouTube. But it’s just not working. Not for you.

Honestly, I don’t know why I waited so long to seek guidance from someone who actually knows acne science and can guide me through it.

I spent money on so many other things that mattered way less to me than actually having confidence about my skin. It’s crazy when I look back on it.

As someone who’s been where you are, I’m telling you: Just invest in a good teacher—sooner rather than later. Don’t be like I was and spend two painful years trying to figure it all out from YouTube videos or something.

There’s just no need to waste years of your life still having acne and going through all that exhausting trial-and-error. Put your acne behind you, and move onto better things.

Click here and check out Cheryl’s course Acne Warrior.

Sharing is caring!