Woman pinch burger and frowning

The ingredients that you put into your body will have a direct effect on the health of your skin, with each and every food out there able to have either a positive or a negative impact.

It is common knowledge that fresh fruits and vegetables are great for the skin, but which foods should you be avoiding?

Here are the ten worst foods for your skin.

Refined Salt

In the right amounts, salt is beneficial for the body and skin, but the average modern day diet contains excessive levels of salt.

One of the most common effects of excess salt in the body is dehydration, which applies to your skin too.

In order to counter the dehydration, your skin will try to retain water, and this usually happens in the face, most particularly underneath the eyes. Puffy skin and eye bags are common, while your skin may also become dry and cracked.

It may be hard to believe, but dehydrated skin can also result in excess oil as well.


Because your skin tries to compensate for the lack of moisture by producing more oil. This leads to clogged pores and breakouts. 

Already in the habit of seasoning every meal with high amounts of salt?

Try swapping your salt for an alternative, such as dried herbs, dried porcini mushroom granules, kelp granules or lemon juice. These may not seem like much of a replacement at first, but the improvements that you will notice in your skin will make this so worthwhile.


Wheat is something that was eaten by our ancestors, so many find it hard to believe that wheat is no good for the body.

So, how true is this?

Well, the wheat that is grown in the world today actually has a different chemical makeup to the wheat that our ancestors used to grow, with modern day wheat, otherwise known as dwarf wheat, being a genetically modified version.

Modern day wheat is much higher in phytic acid and gluten when compared to traditional wheat, and these are compounds that are extremely difficult for the body to digest.

Sacks of wheat grain on wooden table

In fact, the introduction of dwarf wheat into agriculture coincides with the rise of wheat and gluten sensitivities, something which is so prevalent now.

Wondering what to replace the wheat in your diet with?

Give one of these a try:

  • Spelt
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Kamut

Refined Carbohydrates

Simply put, refined carbohydrates are forms of sugars and starches that do not exist in nature. While they may have originally come from a natural source, they have been altered, or refined, in a way that has changed them.

Here are a few examples:

  • Sugar, both white and brown
  • All types of flour, other than 100% stone-ground
  • Corn syrup
  • Refined grains, such as white rice and instant oatmeal
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Refined starches 

As you can see, this covers quite a few of the foods that are prevalent in the modern day diet.

So, why exactly are they so bad for the skin?

Well, to begin with, they feed the bad bacteria in your gut, causing this to flourish and drown out the good bacteria. This imbalance commonly leads to a number of different skin issues, such as acne and skin rashes, since your skin is usually a direct reflection of your digestive health.

Research has also shown that refined carbohydrates, especially sugar, cause the body to release insulin in large amounts. These sudden spikes in insulin have been proven to trigger an increase in the skin’s production of oil.

What does all of this excess oil mean?

Clogged pores, which then leads to the formation of pimples, whiteheads and blackheads, as well as a generally oily complexion to deal with.

If all of that was not enough…

Refined carbohydrates also lead to a process called glycation, which plays a huge role in premature skin aging. It basically refers to the molecules of sugar attaching themselves to proteins within the skin, such as collagen. Once this happens, the bond between the two cannot be broken, resulting in a loss of collagen.

Since collagen is what keeps your skin smooth, firm and youthful, this rapid decline quickly causes fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin.

Fried Foods

The majority of fried foods out there are fried using a refined vegetable oil, such as canola oil or safflower oil.

These oils are extremely high in omega-6 essential fatty acids.

You are probably thinking…

“Aren’t omega-6 essential fatty acids good for the skin?”

Yes, but only if they are consumed along with the right amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which refined vegetable oils do not contain.

So, what does this imbalance cause?

It results in inflammation in the skin, which manifests as redness and acne.

Sounds bad, right?

There’s more…

When it comes to fried fast foods, the oils that are used are usually exposed to heat and light, which they are sensitive to. This turns them rancid, resulting in the formation of free radicals.

When these free radicals enter the skin, they destroy healthy skin cells and lead to premature aging.


While the skin does need to stay hydrated, soda is packed with huge amounts of sugar. In fact, studies have shown that the primary source of added sugar in the American diet is in beverages, such as soda.

Soda in glasses on table

As mentioned above in the refined carbohydrates section, refined sugar has plenty of damaging effects on the skin.

However, not only is the sugar an issue, but many sodas also contain caffeine.

This can dehydrate the skin, emphasizing and deepening fine lines and wrinkles.

Dermatologists would even go so far as to compare the visible effects of soda on the skin with the visible effects of smoking, as both of these lead to dullness, dryness and a decrease in skin cell production. 

Unfortunately, soda is something that many people find so difficult to cut out of their diet.

Can you relate to this?

If so, there are likely to be many alternatives out there that you have not yet tried, such as:

  • Kombucha – a fizzy fermented beverage in so many flavors, and easy to make at home too
  • Homemade Soda – blend some fruit together to create a purée, and then mix a small amount of this with some sparkling water
  • Flavored Still Water – try some fun flavors, such as raspberry and mint, to make this more interesting for you
  • Green Tea – although be sure not to use sugar to sweeten this


Margarine has long since been touted as a healthier alternative to butter, but emerging research is showing that this is not at all the case.

Before we get into that, do you know exactly what margarine is?

It is a mix of vegetable oils, along with chemical preservatives and artificial colors, none of which benefit your skin in any way.

In fact, research shows that food preservatives cause at least 50% of eczema cases to worsen, while frequent consumption of margarine towards the end of a pregnancy significantly increases your child’s risk of developing eczema.

Even if you do not suffer from eczema, margarine is still something to avoid, especially when there are so many other, tastier, alternatives out there. Give coconut oil or olive oil a try, or even avocado or some cottage cheese.


Having a drink or two may be fun every now and then, but if you know that you drink more than you should, then you need to be aware of the fact that the alcohol you consume is definitely not doing your skin any favors.

Alcohol leads to:

  • Inflammation
  • Dryness and dehydration
  • Fixed redness and broken capillaries 
  • A tight sensation in the skin
  • A dull and lackluster complexion

Of course, the odd drink once in a while will not cause any long-term damage, and there are certain alcohols that are better than others when it comes to your skin.

Tequila is one of these, as it actually contains less sugar than other drinks, but make sure to skip the salt that comes with it. Beer is also lower in alcohol than spirits, and can actually contain a few anti-aging antioxidants. Vodka and gin are good choices too, but make sure that the mixers you choose to have them with are also low in sugar and other flavorings.

Spicy Foods

Although the reason for this is still unknown, spicy foods have been linked to flare-ups in a few different skin conditions, including acne and rosacea.

It is believed that this connection is due to the way in which these conditions are caused by inflammation, which is triggered by excess heat in the body – something that spicy foods contribute to.

Butternut squash in spicy chili Thai curry

Fortunately, this is a relatively easy one to avoid.

If you do feel as though you really need the extra flavoring, try using herbs instead, but avoid the spicy ones, such as cayenne.

Chemically-Sprayed Produce

When biting into a peach, or cooking up some kale, it is hard to believe that those fresh ingredients could be anything but good for your body.

However, so many fruits and vegetables today are heavily sprayed with chemicals, and residues of everything from pesticides and fungicides to hormones and waxes can be found on the produce sold in stores.

As you can imagine, these chemicals can really cause some problems in the body…

Since the body does not recognize them, it produces an inflammatory response in order to fight them, which will trigger flare-ups in any inflammatory skin conditions.

Certain hormones and pesticides have also been linked to a variety of diseases and health conditions, none of which are good for the skin.

If that was not enough to convince you to go organic…

Studies show that organically grown produce actually contains two to three times the amount of nutrients than commercially grown food does. Since these nutrients are vital when it comes to a healthy complexion, eating more of them will really help your skin to thrive.

Poor Quality Supplements

With the modern day lifestyle being such a busy one, it can sometimes be hard to ensure that your diet is balanced, which is why supplements are becoming increasingly popular.

There is nothing wrong with supplementing your diet with certain nutrients, especially if you know that your body could do with a bit of a boost, but the problem arises when it comes to the quality of many of the supplements out there.

While so many people may take supplements, they do not actually know what is actually inside them…

Rather than being made from whole food sources, many of the supplements sold today contain fillers and hidden ingredients, so many of which are common allergens. This can lead to a multitude of different skin issues, depending on exactly what it is you are consuming.

Woman's hand with omega-3 supplement

So, how do you know if the supplements you are taking are any good?

Make sure that they say “whole food” on the label. They should also always have a lot number and expiration date.

In addition to that, you need to make sure that you actually need the supplements that you are taking. Excess levels of certain nutrients in the body can actually do more harm than good for the skin, such as too much vitamin A or zinc leading to skin dehydration.

With so many different temptations out there, it can be difficult to stay on the right track when it comes to a healthy diet.

If you are finding this challenging, take it slowly…

Try cutting out one of the foods from this list from your diet for a week, replacing this with something new and exciting. Once that becomes more of a habit, you can then move on to cutting out another one of these foods, until you are satisfied that your diet is one that is really benefiting your skin and body in every way.