It’s no secret that good skin starts from within. What you eat has a massive effect on not only your weight, health and overall mood, but also your skin, hair and nails. As the old adage goes, "when you’re healthy on the inside, it shows on the outside." Whilst it’s totally normal to have an oily skin type, if you’re producing excess oil that’s leading to breakouts and acne, it might be worth looking to your diet. Why? Well, because certain foods can trigger oil production and lead to excess sebum being produced which in turn, can cause breakouts.
You might’ve tried every acne-busting, salicylic-packed serum out there, but if you’re eating foods that are exacerbating your oily skin, it’ll be hard to curb your excess sebum production with just skincare alone.
So we spoke to some of the UK’s best nutritionists and dermatologists to find out once and for all which foods cause oily skin.
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“Consuming excess salt can cause dehydration, water retention, swelling and eye bags. But it can also lead to an increase in oil levels as the skin tries to combat the dehydration caused by salt,” says Patricia Boland, dermatologist and lead product developer at Colorescience UK.
Limit your salt intake by steering clear of processed foods that often contain high levels of salt and avoid adding extra salt to your food.
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“Red meat (such as sausages, beef, lamb and bacon) can be high in saturated fats which can increase inflammation in the skin. This excess inflammation can cause excess oil to be produced,” warns Boland.
“Try limiting your saturated fat intake by switching some of your red meat consumption to poultry or fish,” suggests nutritionist Jenna Hope.
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“Research has shown foods high in sugar increase the production of IGF-1, a peptide hormone which stimulates growth but can also cause an overproduction of sebum aka excess oil,” says Hope.
Try switching your 4 p.m. sugar snack for an apple and peanut butter or oatcakes and guacamole or hummus.
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“Like sugar, foods high in refined carbohydrates (aka white bread, white pasta, white rice) can also increase the production of IGF-1, which can cause an overproduction of sebum,” says Hope.
An easy change to make is to switch your white refined grains to the less refined varieties (e.g., brown pasta and brown rice).
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“I always tell clients not to overdo their dairy intake, but because high-quality dairy products are associated with other health benefits, I’d always suggest limiting refined carbohydrates before dairy,” suggests Hope. “Stick to whole milk (as some research suggests that skimmed milk might have a greater effect on IGF-1) and always opt for organic where possible.”
Of course, it’s worth noting that you don’t need to completely cut out these food groups to combat your oily skin. Try limiting one at a time and seeing whether you notice a difference in your skin.
Jenna Hope's 3 Top Tips for Improving Skin Health
Stay hydrated. This helps the skin to remove waste products and maintain it’s moisture.
Eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables, as they’re a great source of antioxidants which help to remove free radicals and inflammation which can lead to redness and acne.
Up your oily fish intake. Aim for two portions a week to increase suppleness and contribute to reduced inflammation.