When it comes to old wives’ tales, it feels like we’ve heard them all. “Don’t go out with wet hair or you’ll catch a cold!” False. “Shaving body hair makes it grow back thicker!” False. “If you pull out a grey hair, two more will grow back!” False, thankfully.
Still, they endure – just like the old wives’ tale about chocolate causing acne. Unfortunately, disproving this one is a little more complicated than the wet hair one, despite the fact that research into the correlation between chocolate and acne has been ongoing since the late 60s.
So, right before perhaps the most chocolate-filled time of year, we’re digging into that research and settling the debate, once and for all: Can you have luminous skin AND a bar of the sweet stuff?
The good news
The good news is that even with all that research, there doesn’t seem to be any direct link between eating chocolate and acne. Some studies say yes, some studies say no. Helpful, right?
The tricky part comes when you consider that chocolate bars also contain milk and sugar, which can lead to contradictory results. One 2017 study found that acne-prone students had more new lesions just 48 hours after eating chocolate, compared to other participants who had eaten jelly beans.
But another study, in 2012, found no link between chocolate and acne in the 44 young adults it followed for three days.
Credit: Pexels – Rodnae Productions
The not-so-good news
So while there’s no concrete evidence to suggest chocolate itself can cause acne, it’s not such good news for those other ingredients we mentioned.
That’s because there is data to suggest that high glycaemic index foods – that’s foods rich in refined carbohydrates and sugar – can cause a spike in blood sugar. That spike increases production of insulin and, in turn, sebum production.
When the sebaceous glands in our skin produce too much sebum, it can trap dead skin cells in our pores, resulting in blackheads, whiteheads and pimples.
The great news
Does this mean you need to ditch the Dairy Milk? Not necessarily. Like we said, it’s more likely to be the sugar in chocolate leading to acne rather than the chocolate itself.
Swapping out dairy or white chocolate for dark can help avoid that, as dark chocolate typically has little to no milk solids. Keeping a food diary can also be a helpful way of figuring out what foods may be affecting your skin.
But, rather than focusing on avoiding one particular food, we much prefer to zoom out and look at all of the foods we can eat for luminous skin. Fatty fish, like salmon and mackerel, is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which keeps our skin thick and bouncy.
Avocados, walnuts and sunflower seeds are also great sources of skin-loving nutrients, as are sweet potato, broccoli and tomatoes.
Not forgetting, of course, our secret to glow skincare: Sleep + Glow Overnight Mask!