Caffeine and Acne

Why I Don’t Drink Coffee

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the taste of coffee.  I started drinking it at age 14 and couldn’t let go until I was in my mid-twenties.  However, the older I got, and the more hormonal issues I began to deal with, the more it became overwhelmingly apparent that caffeine was hugely triggering my cystic acne.

Why I Don't Drink Caffeine

If you’re acne-prone like me, you likely get both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne.  Caffeine usually causes the inflammatory type, which for me displays as the cystic pimples which appear around my mouth, jawline, and lower half of my face.  They take weeks to subside, and often leave a red mark that doesn’t fade for months!  Those of us with pale skin scar very easily, and I happened to get the skin of my Irish relatives, not the Italian side of the family!

Caffeine is a major trigger for cortisol, our stress hormone.  It is what surges during that fight or flight response deeply built into us as humans.  Stress can be a significant acne trigger.  Most people think of stress as pressure at our jobs, a difficult relationship situation, or studying for a big exam.  However that cup of joe can cause the body an equal amount of stress in sensitive individuals.

I do recognize that there are different degrees of caffeine sensitivity.  If I drink one cup of coffee, I feel the unpleasant jitters almost instantly!  My family is the exact same way.  My husband and his family, on the other hand, could all drink a gallon of coffee at midnight and fall peacefully asleep within minutes.  So it seems plausible that you’re more likely to have the acne-caffeine connection if you are sensitive to the stimulating drug in general!

The solution?  Try cutting it out!  You have nothing to lose if you are struggling with your skin.  Yes, you will get the withdrawal headaches for a few days, but you can try weaning off it slowly to ease these.  Even replacing your daily coffee with a beverage containing less caffeine is a great start.  I saw dramatic results from switching my coffee to black tea for a few years.  It has about half the caffeine!

Another source of caffeine, as painful as it may be, is chocolate (particularly dark chocolate).  Granted, it contains very small amounts.  100 grams of dark chocolate has 43mg of caffeine, which is even lower than the amount in most black teas.  However for some of us, it is still too much.  The last time I used a minuscule 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder in a recipe, I broke out terribly.  It’s really difficult as someone who is a serious chocolate girl.  Chocolate was my go-to flavor for any dessert growing up.  If you can snag some carob powder to sub into your recipes, it actually has a very similar taste!

So give it a try!  You can make it less difficult by stocking up on some really tasty herbal or decaffeinated teas so that you don’t have to give up any of your rituals.  An extra perk: You won’t have to rely on coffee for your energy source anymore.  You’ll be free; fueled by an intake of nutritious foods and better sleep!

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