Could America’s favorite beverage, coffee, be a culprit behind acne and other skin issues? The thought of this makes us want to scream – “Say it’s not so!” But, the reality is that it very well could be the bad guy when it comes to acne breakouts. The health benefits versus the bad effects of coffee is an ongoing argument. Some people say it’s good for you and should be a part of your everyday diet, while others say you should not touch coffee with 10 foot pole. Well, which one is it? Let’s take a look at both sides.
The good side: health benefits of coffee
Coffee has many known health benefits, such as:
- Coffee can reduce the risk of certain diseases and conditions, like type 2 diabetes and even certain cancers. Minerals like magnesium and chromium, which contribute to healthy management of insulin, are found in coffee. 
- Coffee contains the natural stimulant caffeine, which can increase energy and boost your mental concentration.
- Coffee naturally has antioxidants, and nutrients like vitamin B-5 and B-12, the vitamins that help give you energy.  Antioxidants fight against free radicals in the body. Free radicals are molecules that cause damage to healthy cells, resulting in sickness, chronic conditions, or can even contribute to cancer. 
Negatives of Coffee
So what about the downside of coffee?
- Coffee can boost your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and consistently high cortisol levels can wreak havoc with your skin. High cortisol levels can cause insulin resistance, and can also contribute to over-production of oil in the skin. 
- Common sweeteners used in coffee, like sugar and milk, can trigger acne or make an acne problem that much worse.  If you don’t drink your coffee straight-up black, then maybe it’s not benefiting you.
- Coffee contains caffeine, which can contribute to anxiety, restlessness, digestive issues, and inflammation. Caffeine is another culprit in raising cortisol levels in your body. Also, caffeine can be very addictive. 
- Coffee is very acidic and can elevate the amount of hydrochloric acid that your stomach produces (the acid that helps to digest your food). A rise in bad digestive bacteria (like the bacteria that contributes to the formation of ulcers) has been linked to a high-acid digestive environment. Acid reflux (heartburn), bloating, cramping, and gas are all symptoms that have been associated with coffee and/or a high-acid digestive environment.  An imbalance in your digestive acid or gut bacteria can manifest in your skin, often in the form of acne. 
One More Important Factor about Coffee
Weighing the pros versus the cons might seem to come out at an even balance. An important factor to consider is your individual response to coffee and caffeine. Some problems associated with coffee, like spikes in stress hormones, can be attributed to the caffeine in the coffee – and people can metabolize caffeine very differently.
Some people can drink coffee and go straight to sleep with no trouble, while others get the jitters if they have a large sized coffee instead of a small. This primarily has to do with genetics.  The best way to determine if you have a caffeine sensitivity is to try fasting from caffeine for a few days to a week and see how your body responds. There’s no one right answer about caffeine that fits every body.
Both science and the media are still divided about how healthy coffee may or may not be, but many of its health benefits (like those listed above) are proven. Coffee’s effect on acne and skin conditions is also a divided topic, but unlike some acne-causing triggers, coffee is not a guaranteed bad guy.
The most important thing is to listen to your own body. If you’re concerned that coffee might be contributing to your acne, try adjusting your diet by switching to decaf, reducing the creamers and sweeteners, or cutting out coffee altogether. Coffee might not be ruining your skin, but if you have acne concerns, it’s worth investigating for your own health.