Does Soda Really Cause Acne?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 28th, 2023

Ever find yourself wondering, “Does drinking soda cause acne?” You’re not alone. Although the scientific consensus isn’t crystal clear on the connection between soda and acne, there are reasons to believe that your soft drink habit could be contributing to those stubborn breakouts. Here’s what you need to know to make more informed choices for your skin health.

The Ongoing Debate: Soda and Acne

Is soda the criminal mastermind behind your acne issues? Not quite. Although medical studies haven’t definitively proven that soda directly causes acne, a lot of people report worse breakouts after chugging down a fizzy, sugary drink. Cutting soda from their diet often results in clearer skin, but why?

soda acne

The idea here is that sugar, a primary ingredient in soda, can cause inflammation. Inflamed skin is a perfect breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. While the jury’s still out, it’s reasonable to suspect that soda could be an accomplice to your acne problems.

Untangling the Myth of Soda-Induced Acne

When it comes to skin problems, soda is often in the lineup of usual suspects. While there’s no concrete evidence directly linking soda to acne, it’s not entirely a baseless claim. Soda is notoriously high in sugar or other sweeteners, which can wreak havoc on your hormonal balance.

For instance, a single can of soda contains about ten teaspoons of sugar—more than your recommended daily intake. Consuming excess sugar impacts your insulin levels, which in turn influences other hormones like testosterone and estrogen. It’s these hormonal imbalances that are often linked to acne, giving some credibility to the soda-acne rumor mill.

Is There Any Science to Back It Up?

Let’s get down to brass tacks. The correlation between soda and acne primarily hinges on the glycemic index. This index measures how quickly carbohydrates in food are broken down and absorbed, affecting blood sugar and insulin levels. Most sodas score around 59 on the glycemic index, which is relatively high. Consuming high-glycemic foods can result in increased inflammation, weight gain, and potentially even type 2 diabetes—all of which aren’t exactly beneficial for your skin.

The Role of Sugar in Soda and Acne

Sugar is a broad term in the world of nutrition. Naturally occurring sugars, like those found in fruits and vegetables, come with a host of health benefits. For example, the sugar in tomatoes is accompanied by lycopene, an antioxidant that could lower the risk of certain cancers. The problem begins when we consume “added sugars,” which are devoid of any nutritional benefits. These sugars are the ones found in soda, contributing zero health benefits and potentially damaging your skin.

Caffeine: Another Culprit?

We can’t ignore the role of caffeine when discussing soda’s impact on the skin. While caffeine might give you a much-needed boost, it has side effects, like increased production of sebum and acne. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, meaning it makes you lose fluids and can dry out your skin, adding another layer to the skin woes caused by soda.

Long-term Effects of Soda on Your Skin

Let’s get this straight—soda is not a proven cause of acne. However, it does contribute to other skin problems and health risks. For instance, frequent consumption of soda can lead to oily skin, uneven texture, and premature aging due to the presence of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). Simply put, the occasional soda won’t ruin your skin, but habitual consumption will likely take a toll on both your skin and overall health.

Other Common Acne Triggers

Acne doesn’t have a single cause. Along with limiting soda, being mindful of your diet—especially carb-rich foods and processed items—can make a difference. Stress and hormonal fluctuations are other key contributors to acne that you shouldn’t overlook.

What About Diet Soda?

Diet sodas might seem like a safer alternative, but they’re not entirely risk-free. While they don’t contain sugar, they do contain caffeine and artificial sweeteners that can still negatively affect your skin and overall health.

Proactive Steps for Acne Prevention

Looking to improve your skin? Cut down on high-glycemic foods like soda, candy, and white bread. Instead, focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And if you’re in search of a fizzy drink replacement, opt for seltzer water, lemon water, or herbal teas.


While there’s no definitive proof that soda directly causes acne, it’s clear that frequent consumption can lead to a range of health issues that indirectly affect your skin. The high sugar content, caffeine, and other elements can contribute to inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and other skin problems. So, the next time you’re pondering a soda, consider opting for a healthier choice—it might just do wonders for your skin.


Editorial Staff

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