ask the nutritionist: eating for clear skin

I received this email:

…I was just wondering if you have any thoughts/advice on how diet effects skin? I have real problems with my skin, and I often experience dryness in some places on my face at the same time as oiliness and acne breakouts along my T-zone. (I’m 24, so I feel like I should have grown out of this by now!)…

There are many things that go into clear skin: rest, cleanliness and a varied and balanced diet. Then there are the things you can’t control like heredity, your body, etc. In terms of what goes into your body, there are a few things you can do to promote clear skin.

  • Whole Grains – full of fiber, zinc and Vitamin B6
  • Fruits & Veggies – full of antioxidants *focus on green, purple and deep red
  • Fish – specifically for omega 3’s
  • Green Tea
  • Probiotics – all about balancing good bacteria
  • Low Glycemic eating is thought to help – high glycemic foods increase insulin secretion which increases sebum production, which can then block pores
  • Lay off the milk – many think that because milk is so full of hormones (even organic) that it is best to avoid

I never had much acne as child (I’m very grateful for that) but I’ve also gone through bouts of breakouts as an adult. I know that I’m more likely to breakout during particular times of the month (if you know what I mean) and I take a number of preventative measures, instead of waiting until I actually breakout. (Then if I do breakout, I panic, stress and apply a ridiculous amount of pimple creams.) It happens. There are a few products that I have found work pretty well for me. Of course, everyone is different, so that is something to keep in mind. These products are also ones that are found in Target, Walgreens, etc. so are not super pricey. I’ve probably tried just about everything and these are some of my favorites and what I currently use:

Hope this can help someone out there!

Please feel free to email me ( with your “ask the nutritionist” questions!


  1. says

    I totally agree with the milk comment — it is true in my case at least! When I avoid milk and other dairy products, my skin clears up and my stomach doesn’t feel like a rock.

    I actually used ProActiv for a number of years and that also really helps my skin. I’ve tried some other “natural” facial products and to be honest they just didn’t work well for me. But I probably didn’t get them enough of a chance to work. I get impatient if I don’t get results right away!

  2. says

    I found that cutting out processed foods really helped my skin a TON. I also like Burt’s Bees Garden Tomato complexion soap, and a nice oil-free moisturizer from Alba.

    I was just reading this week that sometimes when you make big changes (like cutting out junk, cutting down on sugar, etc.) your body spends a couple of weeks cleansing the buildup of junk out of your system, and then normalizes. This was definitely my experience — when I first cleaned up my diet, my skin was HORRIBLE for about a month, and then cleared up and now I have almost no problems!

  3. says

    i definitely think that food and skin are closely related. so it stress! trying to get all this thesis stuff in order had prompted a breakout. booooooo! thank you for the product recommendations. i never know what to try as there is just so much out there.

  4. says

    Great advice! I dont really suffer from acne but I know several people who do! I really think it’s all about eating a wide variety of foods (healthy foods) and keeping stress levels low. I will have to pass this along to a friend!

  5. says

    Great advice!

    One thing I always have to remember is to stop touching my face. I tend to rest my chin in my hand while working on the computer. I constantly have to tell myself not to do this because it causes breakouts!

  6. says

    This is a great post Emily. I am so stressed out right now with buying a home, getting engaged, working three jobs, AND trying to find some time to blog, that my face is a mess right now. I think it has alot to do with dairy and often have a hard hard time cutting it out of my diet. I need to work on that as I would much rather have clear looking skin then drink milk that I don’t really need.

  7. says

    i’ve always suffered from varying degrees of acne since middles school. i definitely find that when i’m eating lots of fruits and veggies and very little processed food, my skin looks a LOT better! drinking lots of water also helps!

  8. says

    While it is pretty pricey, the best thing I’ve ever used is my Clarisonic. That coupled with my favorite Murad anti-ance cleanser have made my skin flawless, something it hasn’t been for the better part of 22 years

  9. says

    I love BURT’S BEES Acne Solutions!!! Best stuff ever!!! :D

    I absolutely agree with you! You have the best posts girl!!! :D Our first line of defense is how we eat, since what we eat provides the building blocks for what our skin is made of. :)

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