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Surprising Ways to Clear Acne

There are literally tens of thousands of over-the-counter acne treatments1 and dozens of prescription acne medications2 that usually do a fair job of clearing acne. But some of the best ways to clear acne don’t require you to buy anything at all. Before you spend a small fortune on acne treatment, why not try one of these quick and simple methods that often clear acne?

Fight Acne by Changing your Diet
Making changes in your diet can help clear acne.


High-Protein Diet to Clear Acne on Fair Skin

One way that sometimes clears up acne fast is a high-protein diet. High-protein does not mean 100% protein. Even a high-protein diet has to be complemented by some carbohydrate (an absolute minimum of 40 grams/160 calories of carbohydrate is needed every day for the brain to absorb amino acids from the bloodstream), and everyone needs some essential fatty acids for regulating inflammation. In fact, a “high-protein” diet may contain less than 50% protein.

In one study, researchers asked volunteers who had acne to eat a diet consisting of:

  • 44% of calories from protein,
  • 35% of calories from carbohydrate, and
  • 21% of calories for fat.

When volunteers ate this relatively high-protein diet, acne began to clear up in less than two weeks. Then the researchers asked the same volunteers to eat diet consisting of:

  • 10% of calories from protein,
  • 70% of calories from carbohydrate, and
  • 20% of calories from fat.

When volunteers at this low-protein diet, acne started getting worse in less than two weeks. The reason high-protein diets seem to fight acne is that they slow down the conversion of testosterone in the bloodstream into the skin-active form of the hormone, dihydrotestosterone. Testosterone does not stimulate excess oil production in the skin until it is converted into dihydrotestosterone.

How can you make your diet a high-protein diet? You don’t so much need to start eating hunks of meat as you need to avoid second helpings of carbohydrate. Get your extra protein from low-fat sources such as lean meat, fish (not fried!), soy, beans, and lentils. Skip dessert. Generally, you will do better with acne if you eat less carbohydrate than if you eat more protein.

The high-protein diet is most helpful for controlling mild to moderate acne on fair skin. Another diet is best for Asian skin.

A Special Diet to Clear Diet on Asian Skin

Asian skin tends either to be very sensitive to food choices or totally insensitive to food choices. Changes in diet may produce dramatic changes in acne, or no change at all. When diet makes a difference, however, the offending foods are those that are high in iodine.

Iodine makes the skin break out by changing the way it uses thyroid hormone. Extra iodine in the diet may also increase production of thyroid hormones, which make the skin very sensitive to inflammation and prone to forming brown spots after acne heals.

Which foods are highest in iodine? In most Asian diets, the highest-iodine foods are:

  • Seaweed salads,
  • Dried shrimp, fish, cuttlefish, squid, and urchin,
  • Seaweed snacks (nori chips),
  • Tuna, and
  • Salty foods made with sea salt or iodized salt, including all kinds of pickles and kimchi.

Eliminating these foods is just half of the battle. It is also necessary to cut back on fried chicken and braised pork, as well as soft drinks. People who have acne on Asian skin get over acne faster and have fewer brown spots once acne heals.

A Low-Allergy Diet to Clear Acne on Black Skin

Black skin stands up to sun. All the pigment in black skin that makes it resistant to the sun, however, makes it especially sensitive to inflammation. Often acne breaks out on black skin after food causes mild allergic reactions that are not even noticed except for the inflammation in the skin. Breakouts on black skin are not just due to oil and acne bacteria. They are due to inflammation caused by allergy.

The foods that most often cause allergies in people who have black skin include milk, wheat, and citrus. People of African heritage are less likely to be allergic to peanuts, tomatoes, chocolate, cola, or beef. Sometimes simply reducing consumption of bread, ice cream, and orange juice reduces the number of acne breakouts.

Beans and Acne on Brown Skin

And if you have brown skin? Be careful with beans. Many people of Hispanic or Middle Eastern heritage are sensitive to beans, especially fava beans. There are people of Mediterranean heritage who have life-threatening reactions to fava beans, but many more who have skin-tightening reactions to all kinds of beans and legumes.

It is best to take a “bean break” for about two weeks and see if there are changes in your skin. If there is just no way your family can function without beans at every meal, make one small change in their preparation. Pour off the water in which beans are soaked before they are cooked. Pouring off the soaking water reduces the lectins in the beans when they are cooked. This fights flatulence, and reduces irritation of the skin. It also helps to substitute Anasazi or appaloosa beans for pintos. Anasazi and appaloosa beans contain far fewer lectins to irritate the gut and the skin.

Other Steps to Clear Acne

Sometimes a simple change in diet causes dramatic improvement in acne, better than you can get from any acne product or any acne medication. But the way to get rid of all your blemishes for good is to clear acne with the help of a complete acne care system such as Exposed Skin Care. With your complete acne treatment system, you can cleanse your skin5 to remove excess oil, moisturize6 your skin to keep it supple, exfoliate your skin to prevent clogged pores, and keep inflammation at a minimum with toners, astringents, serums, and probiotics7.


  1. Decker A, Graber EM. Over-the-counter Acne Treatments: A Review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012 May;5(5):32-40.
  2. Acne. Mayo Clinic
  3. Diet and acne update: carbohydrates emerge as the main culprit. Mahmood SN, Bowe WP. J Drugs Dermatol. 2014 Apr;13(4):428-35.
  4. Davis EC, Callender VD. A review of acne in ethnic skin: pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and management strategies. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010 Apr;3(4):24-38.
  5. Choi JM, Lew VK, Kimball AB. A single-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial evaluating the effect of face washing on acne vulgaris. Pediatr Dermatol.2006 Sept-Oct;23(5):421-7.
  6. Chularojanamontri L, Tuchinda P, Kulthanan K, Pongparit K. Moisturizers for Acne: What are their Constituents? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 May;7(5):36-44.
  7. Notay M, Foolad N, Vaughn AR, Sivamani RK. Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics for the Treatment and Prevention of Adult Dermatological Diseases. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2017 Dec;18(6):721-732.
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Daniella Reply

So racist!

February 5, 2012 at 8:01 am Reply

The simple reality is that different colors and skin types have different skin care needs. It might be less "typist" to give someone who has type O blood a transfusion of type A blood but it's not a good idea.

February 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm Reply
Sinthi Reply

This site is very useful for me. After following some tips in this page I have notable difference in face. Pl can suggest me when can I stop protein rich food as must in my daily intake? Because when I stop protein rich food one or two days I can feel acne again appears. Ur reply should be a great solution for my pm. Thanks a lot for this page.

February 16, 2015 at 11:25 pm Reply
Grumio Smythe Reply

I never tried this before, but I can confirm that a very high protein diet has done wonders for me: health, confidence and clear skin after a number of years of suffering and not knowing what my triggers are. I've also noticed that getting plenty of sleep has been beneficial (8 hours minimum) and doing lots of exercise (3-4 high intensity workouts, other cardiovascular + weight lifting x2-3 per week). Altogether I am very happy and hope that people find the solution for them quickly because it's a horrible condition and after years it destroys confidence. The minute I went to a carbohydrate intensive diet, back to square one.

October 22, 2015 at 7:18 pm Reply
Jackie Daulby Reply

We live in Spain and my Grandaughter has Brown skin.I have tried your product but because I can't do the morning treatment because of the un it's know better.Please advise what can i do

July 24, 2017 at 1:34 pm Reply
Aysu Reply

Considering that dairy products are high in protein and they also can cause acne because of IGF-1 everything gets way more hard to get over :(

May 6, 2018 at 7:24 pm Reply

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