Some People Are Saying The Ketogenic Diet Causes Acne. Does It?

Here are the facts.

keto diet cause acne
Image: iStock

From rapid fat loss, reduced migraines and greater mental clarity and focus, the benefits of the keto diet are seemingly endless. So much so, it makes you wonder —what’s the catch? (Apart from not being able to eat delicious carbs, obviously). But it seems that some ketogenic diet followers have stumbled upon an unfortunate and surprising downside: breakouts.
Yep, it seems that in some people, the keto diet sends the skin into overdrive. There’s a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, starting any new diet can make your skin freak out—especially one as drastic as keto. “The skin is a temperamental beast,” Ross Radusk Dermatologist at SoHo Skin & Laser Dermatology told Women’s Health.
“Any change in your diet, but particularly one that turns our usual percentages of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins upside down, can be inflaming.” Then, there’s the fact that a 2015 study found that high-fat diets like keto can send your body’s sebum production into overdrive, leading to breakouts. 

keto diet anxiety
Image via @ketoislife/Instagram

Additionally, a 2007 study found that high protein diets are associated with C-reactive protein, which can lead to skin inflammation. So, if you’re loading up on protein as well as fat, that could be the culprit.
The good news is, you don’t have to sacrifice clear skin if you want to give the keto diet a whirl. In the article, Radusky gives a few tips for keeping your skin under control:

Stay hydrated

“I recommend patients increase their water intake to make sure their skin cells are adequately hydrated,” says Dr. Radusky.


“I also recommend a nighttime face wash that physically exfoliates the skin a few times per week. This helps clear your face of excess dirt, oils, and grime that may have accumulated throughout the day,” says Radusky.

Limit lactose

“Try to avoid food that are high in lactose,” says Dr. Radusky. Studies show that milk and whey products can lead to breakouts.

See a dermatologist

If you’re doing this diet for the long haul, it may be worth seeking out the help of an expert. “She or he may recommend a product with a retinoid, a group of chemicals derived from vitamin A, that can help shrink pores, minimise sebum production, and help clear your skin,” says Dr. Radusky.

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