Does Chocolate Cause Acne?

Chocolate has taken the blame for breakouts for decades. But is the bad rap justified?

Happy woman with piece of chocolate in her mouth
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Blend Images / Getty Images

There Is No Evidence That Chocolate Itself Causes Acne

It's good news for all you chocoholics: eating chocolate does not cause pimples. There are no studies linking this sweet treat to the development of acne.

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.

That means that eating an occasional chocolate bar, or two or three, will not cause acne. Cutting chocolate out of your diet won't clear up a case of acne, either.

Certain Other Foods May Trigger Acne

Chocolate may be off the hook. But, these days, more attention is being paid to the link between diet and acne development.

Surprisingly, it's not any of the "usual" culprits getting the blame. Instead of French fries, soda, or potato chips, it's things like low-fat and skim dairy products and carbohydrates that are under the microscope.

Does that mean if you eat one ice cream bar you'll get one pimple? And eating two donuts means two pimples? No, it doesn't work like that (thank goodness).

Even the most recent research on the diet and acne connection doesn't suggest that any specific foods cause acne in an otherwise clear-skinned person. Rather, it shows that consuming these foods may make existing acne worse for some people.

Got a New Breakout After Eating Chocolate? 

So, chocolate isn't on the shortlist of possible acne triggers. But what about that pimple you got the day after eating a chocolate bar?

Most likely it's just a coincidence. You would have gotten that same pimple, chocolate bar or none.

Acne waxes and wanes on its own accord. Although we would love to ascribe blame for our latest breakout, the truth is it's often impossible to pinpoint a cause. Acne is a complex skin problem, and breakouts come and go without a specific cause.

There Are Many Factors That Are Proven Acne-Triggers

Food isn't the most likely culprit for your acne. The real causes of acne are a buildup of dead skin cells within pores, an excess of skin oil (called sebum), and a proliferation of acne-causing bacteria.

Hormones also play a role in acne development. That's why acne is so common during puberty and, for women, around the time of your period.

The predisposition for acne is also hereditary. So if your parents had acne, you probably will too.

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

So go ahead and enjoy that piece of chocolate or order of fries—in moderation, of course. A healthy diet is still important. Your skin will be no worse for it the next day.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Acne.

  2. Manmood SN, Bowe WP. Diet and acne update: Carbohydrates emerge as the main culpritJ Drugs Dermatol. 2014;13(4):428-35.

  3. Aghasi M, et al. Dairy Intake and Acne Development: A Meta-analysis of Observational Studies. Clin Nutr. 2019 Jun;38(3):1067-1075. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2018.04.015

  4. Ismail NH, Manaf ZA, Azizan NZ. High glycemic load diet, milk and ice cream consumption are related to acne vulgaris in Malaysian young adults: A case control studyBMC Dermatol. 2012;12:13. doi:10.1186/1471-5945-12-13

  5. American Academy of Dermatology. Can the right diet get rid of acne?

By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.