Does Chocolate Cause Acne? What Research Says

Written by Annie Jangam

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Hopefully, not acne! Chocolate has a bad reputation as one of the foods that trigger acne. Does scientific research back this claim? Is it the chocolate that really causes your skin to break out, or is there a hidden culprit in your chocolate bar? Can you indulge in that occasional chocolate bar without pimples popping up on your face? Keep reading to find out!

Chocolate And Acne – Is There Any Link?

Does chocolate give you pimples? Well, it is widely believed that chocolate causes acne in certain individuals. But, currently, the scientific community’s take on whether chocolate causes acne is inconclusive (1). However, there are many studies that speculate it may be partially responsible. Let’s take a look at them:

  • A study conducted in Brazil speculated that the biologically active compounds in chocolate can affect acne (2).
  • There have also been several studies that have shown that chocolate exacerbates acne (3), (4). But the sample size, lack of control group, and an inconsistent methodology have put them under scrutiny (5).
  • Other ingredients in chocolate bars – such as dairy and sugar – have also been established to cause acne (5).

Further research is required to prove that eating chocolate can aggravate acne. We suggest that you keep a food journal to identify which foods trigger your acne and figure out if chocolate is one of them.

Chocolate is also believed to offer many benefits for your skin. Find out more in the next section.

Is Chocolate Good For Your Skin?

Yes. Research shows that cocoa powder and dark chocolate are nutrient-dense and rich in antioxidants and flavonoids (6), (7).

  • Cocoa can protect the skin from oxidative damage from UV radiation when applied topically (7). Thus, it is speculated to have anti-aging benefits like smoothening out fine lines and wrinkles and preventing skin damage with its high antioxidant content.
  • A study conducted in the UK showed that the flavonoids found in chocolate can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it from sun damage (8).
  • In fact, a study conducted in Germany reported that women who consumed cocoa powder (which is rich in flavanol) for 12 weeks had improved skin health. It was observed that the thickness of their skin increased and the transepidermal water loss from their skin decreased (9).

Therefore, you can include a limited quantity of chocolate in your diet for the many benefits it offers.

But, does that mean you pick up any chocolate bar? Keep reading to learn which type of chocolate is a healthier option.

Does The Type Of Chocolate Make A Difference?

Yes! Dark chocolate is richer in nutrients and antioxidants compared to milk or white chocolate. Milk chocolate contains milk and sugar, which have been linked to acne (5). Moreover, white chocolate does not contain cocoa powder. Hence, it does not contain the antioxidants or flavanols that are beneficial for the skin. So, it is recommended to consume dark chocolate or cocoa powder for healthy skin.

Conclusion

Chocolate has been implicated in triggering or worsening acne in certain individuals. However, we need well-designed studies conducted on larger populations to end the debate on whether chocolate causes acne conclusively. On the other hand,  several studies report that cocoa powder hydrates the skin as well as protects it from oxidative damage and aging. We suggest that you maintain a food journal to identify if your acne is worsened by eating chocolate.

Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions

How much chocolate can you eat?

There is no consensus, but it is advisable not to exceed 30-60 g of chocolate – especially if it is milk chocolate – as it can increase the number of calories you consume.

What is the cause of acne?

Acne is a complex skin condition that can be triggered by various factors such as bacteria, diet, hormones, and stress. It is believed that excess sebum clogs the pores on your skin, which makes it susceptible to bacterial growth and inflammation, leading to acne, pimples, or breakouts.

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9 Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.

  1. Diet and acne: review of the evidence from 2009 to 2020
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ijd.15390
  2. Acne and Chocolate: Is There Any Evidence of Their Association?
    https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-61779-803-0_39
  3. Dark chocolate exacerbates acne
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ijd.13188
  4. Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Assessing the Effect of Chocolate Consumption in Subjects with a History of Acne Vulgaris
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025515/
  5. Diet and acne: a review of the evidence
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1365-4632.2009.04002.x
  6. Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products
    https://bmcchem.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1752-153X-5-5
  7. Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4696435/
  8. Eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19735513/
  9. Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16702322/
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Annie Jangam is a Molecular Biologist with 7 years of research experience in Rice Functional Genomics and Nutrient Signalling with International Publications in Abiotic stress, Nitrogen, and G-protein signaling. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has been an avid reader since childhood and is passionate about stories that help decipher life and its meaning. She believes in Human Rights for all and that one should "love others like we love ourselves."
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