Coffee and Acne: Does Coffee Really Cause Breakouts?

As a skincare enthusiast who’s struggled with acne for years, I’ve always been curious about the potential link between my beloved coffee and those pesky breakouts. The internet is flooded with conflicting information, leaving me puzzled. Does coffee really cause acne, or is it just another skincare myth?

Let’s explore this question together, separating fact from fiction, and I’ll share some helpful suggestions along the way.

Understanding Acne

Before diving into the coffee-acne connection, let’s briefly understand acne. Acne is a skin condition characterized by clogged pores, inflammation, and the dreaded pimples and blackheads. Several factors contribute to its development, including genetics, hormones, diet, and skincare habits.

The Coffee-Acne Dilemma

Myth: Coffee Is a Direct Cause of Acne

One common misconception is that coffee directly causes acne. However, scientific evidence does not support this claim. Coffee, on its own, isn’t responsible for breakouts.

Caffeine and Stress

Here’s where it gets intriguing. While coffee itself may not cause acne, caffeine, a key component in coffee, can indirectly influence your skin health. Caffeine consumption can lead to increased cortisol levels due to its stimulant properties. Elevated cortisol, the stress hormone, can trigger stress and anxiety in some individuals. Stress, in turn, can exacerbate existing skin conditions, including acne.

The Sugar and Dairy Factor

How we take our coffee matters as well. Loading up your coffee with sugar and creamer can lead to increased insulin levels and inflammation, potentially aggravating acne. Opt for healthier alternatives like almond or oat milk and natural sweeteners.


Coffee’s diuretic properties can cause increased urination and fluid loss, potentially leading to dehydration. Dehydrated skin is more prone to clogged pores, as it produces excess oil to compensate for the lack of moisture. This excess oil, along with dead skin cells, can block hair follicles, paving the way for acne breakouts. Staying adequately hydrated is crucial to maintain skin health and reduce the risk of acne, so it’s essential to complement your coffee intake with plenty of water throughout the day.

My Coffee and Acne Journey

Personal Experience

My personal journey with coffee and its effects on my skin and anxiety has been enlightening. As a devoted coffee enthusiast, I used to enjoy multiple cups daily, but I soon realized that it was heightening my anxiety levels, leaving me feeling jittery.

Shifting to matcha, limiting myself to just one cup daily, not only reduced anxiety but also pleasantly resulted in fewer breakouts, highlighting the transformative power of minor daily adjustments for skin health and overall well-being!

The matcha I prefer is the organic variety from the brand Micro Ingredients, available on Amazon. A little goes a long way, with just 1/4 tsp needed per cup! If you’re interested, you can find it right here: Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder 🍵✨

Tips for Coffee-Loving Acne Warriors

Moderation Is Key

If you can’t imagine your life without coffee, fear not! Enjoy it in moderation and pay attention to how your skin reacts.

Watch the Additives

Many people enjoy their coffee sweetened, but excessive sugar intake can lead to spikes in insulin levels, potentially contributing to inflammation—a known factor in acne development.

To avoid this, consider swapping out refined sugars for natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup in moderation. Alternatively, try unsweetened versions of your favorite coffee additions, such as almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk. These dairy-free alternatives not only provide a creamy texture but also help steer clear of potential dairy-related triggers that can exacerbate acne for some individuals.

Skincare Routine

A solid skincare routine can counteract the minor effects coffee might have on your skin. Regular cleansing, exfoliation, and moisturizing can go a long way.

Coffee Alternatives: A Kinder Brew for Your Skin

For those looking to reduce their coffee consumption or switch to lower-caffeine options, there are plenty of alternatives to explore. These alternatives can offer a flavorful and satisfying experience without the potential negative impact on your skin.

1. Herbal Teas: A Gentle Sip

Herbal teas, such as chamomile, peppermint, and rooibos, offer a soothing and caffeine-free alternative to coffee. Beyond their delightful flavors, these teas may provide skin benefits due to properties like anti-inflammation in chamomile, promoting a calmer complexion and overall well-being.

2. Decaffeinated Coffee: The Best of Both Worlds

Decaffeinated coffee strikes a balance for coffee enthusiasts concerned about caffeine’s impact. It retains the familiar coffee taste and aroma while significantly reducing caffeine content. Opt for high-quality brands using the Swiss water process, a natural caffeine removal method, for a smoother transition.

3. Caffeine-Free Blends: Explore New Flavors

Caffeine-free coffee blends, featuring chicory, dandelion, or barley as coffee substitutes, brew just like regular coffee, delivering a rich, robust taste minus the jitters. These blends provide a satisfying coffee-like experience while being gentle on your skin.

4. Matcha Magic: Green Tea’s Gift to Your Skin

Matcha, a finely ground green tea powder, serves as a brilliant coffee alternative. It offers a mild caffeine boost and is loaded with antioxidants, particularly EGCG, known for its potential to combat inflammation and promote clear, healthy skin. Whether as a latte or a simple hot beverage, matcha can be a calming and skin-friendly addition to your routine.

Skin-Friendly Coffee Recipes: Sip and Savor Without Worry

If you can’t imagine your mornings without the comforting ritual of coffee, don’t fret. There are ways to enjoy your brew while being kind to your skin. By incorporating skin-friendly ingredients into your coffee recipes, you can reduce the potential for acne breakouts.

1. Almond Milk Latte: Creamy and Nourishing

Swap out dairy creamer for almond milk, a dairy-free alternative rich in skin-friendly vitamin E and antioxidants. Create a delicious almond milk latte by frothing almond milk and adding it to your brewed coffee. A sprinkle of cinnamon can enhance both the flavor and potential skin benefits.

Find the recipe here: Almond Milk Latte (Hot or Iced) by Keeping The Peas

2. Honey-Sweetened Brew: A Touch of Natural Sweetness

Instead of refined sugar, sweeten your coffee with honey. Honey not only adds a delightful natural sweetness but also contains antibacterial properties that may benefit your skin. Start with a teaspoon and adjust to your preferred level of sweetness.

Find the recipe here: Honey Coffee by Taste of Home

3. Cinnamon Spice Coffee: An Anti-Inflammatory Twist

Cinnamon is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon into your coffee grounds before brewing or stir it into your cup. Not only does it add a warm, comforting flavor, but it may also help reduce inflammation that contributes to acne.

Find the recipe here: Cinnamon Coffee by Vintage Kitty

AND for those of us looking for a coffee-alternative recipe…

4. Matcha Marvel: Skin-Friendly Green Tea Latte

Matcha, a finely ground green tea powder, brings its magic to your cup. This delightful beverage not only offers a gentle caffeine boost but also provides numerous skin benefits. Rich in antioxidants, particularly EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), matcha is known for its potential to combat inflammation and promote clear, healthy skin.

Find the recipe here: Matcha Green Tea Latte by Love and Lemons

These coffee alternatives and skin-friendly recipes allow you to continue enjoying your favorite beverage while making choices that are gentler on your skin.


So, does coffee cause acne? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. While coffee itself isn’t a direct culprit, how you consume it and your overall lifestyle play essential roles. Listen to your body, keep your coffee intake in check, and pay attention to what you add to your brew. Remember, skincare is a personalized journey, and what works for one person may not work for another.


Is coffee always bad for acne-prone skin?

Not necessarily. Moderation and mindful consumption are key. Coffee itself isn’t inherently bad for the skin.

Can switching to decaffeinated coffee help with acne?

It might help if caffeine exacerbates your stress levels, but it’s essential to watch for other potential triggers in your coffee, such as sugar and dairy.

Are there specific foods or drinks that can improve acne-prone skin?

A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and hydration can contribute to healthier skin. Experiment with your diet and skincare routine to find what works best for you.

How long should I wait to see if changes in my coffee consumption affect my skin?

It varies from person to person. Give your skin a few weeks to adapt to any changes you make in your coffee habits.

Should I consult a dermatologist if I suspect coffee is affecting my skin?

Absolutely! A dermatologist can provide personalized advice and recommend skincare products tailored to your skin’s needs.

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Naya Miller

From battling persistent acne through my teenage years and into adulthood, I've developed a profound passion for the realm of acne skincare. My mission is to impart the wisdom I've gained from both personal experiences and exhaustive research on acne. I aim to guide you in discovering a tailored solution that effectively addresses your unique skincare concerns.

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