23 Surprising Habits Linked to Acne

The link between diet and acne has long been clouded in controversy, with doctors, dermatologists, researchers, and individual consumers on both sides of the debate. So HUM looked at our own data to see what we could find about the role healthy habits play on breakouts – and oh were we surprised by some of the results!!

Health Habits Link to Acne BreakoutsWhat About Your Habits Waist Size Hum Blog

A HUM study on Acne – What we did:

We looked at a sample of 1,000 HUM consumers (mainly women aged 18-34) and analyzed their behaviors to find the habits most commonly linked with acne & breakouts. See what we found below – and be ready for some unexpected outcomes!

Methodology – How we did it:

We divided our sample of 1,000 into 2 pools based on direct consumer lifestyle responses: those who reported they were prone to breakouts, and those who said they were not. The total was split 53% into the acne-prone group, and 47% into the group without acne concerns.

We then analyzed the behaviors of each pool to find which habits were more prevalent among the acne-prone population.

The Conclusion — Our surprising results on Habits and Acne:

We found some fascinating information revealing trends that link health & nutrition habits to breakouts! It’s important to note that these links do not imply causation (there is no evidence that the habit is a direct or sole cause of breakouts). However, the information presented reveals some truly interesting correlations. With further research, these trends could pave the way for some groundbreaking discoveries about the role of nutrition in acne and skin care!

Sugar + dairy + fats, oh my!

Let’s start with a look at the bottom of the chart below. Ice cream (23), cookies (22), and milk (20) are the worst habitual offenders of those struggling with acne. **Don’t worry, we’ll get back to #21 in a moment!** Ice cream in particular shows 29% of those with breakouts indulge regularly compared to 19% of those with clear skin. This reveals a 34.5% improvement rate in those that don’t make ice cream a habit!

This makes sense, since these 3 treats contain the duo most terrible for skin: processed fat and sugar. Sugary foods cause your blood sugar to surge, triggering a burst of the hormone insulin, which is responsible for helping your cells absorb the sugar. Insulin is thought to instigate sebum production which can lead to a build-up of dead skin cells that clog the pores and instigate breakouts.

The best advice here is to cut out sugary & processed foods as much as possible. Perhaps it’s time to give Ben & Jerry the good old fade away…

What the gut…

Also demonstrating a negative relationship with breakouts is bloating (13) and constipation (17), supporting a link between digestion & acne. If you think your acne may be related to gut issues, a great solution can be a probiotic to restore healthy bacteria to your gut. These “good bacteria” help keep our pH levels steady and regulate the removal of wastes to allow our body to absorb skin-benefiting nutrients. This is also why cleansing the system to attract & flush out toxins that are clogging up your system helps rejuvenate your body. Digestive enzymes also help optimize the breakdown of foods. This can help your body absorb healthy nutrients, renew damaged cells, and decrease constipation – all key in supporting clear, glowing skin.

Wait, even healthy foods are a no-no?!

But wait a minute – why would the practice of choosing healthy foods only (21) be so low on the chart? That shocked us too! To explain this, let’s look at the role of stress (18) on acne.

The connection between stress & acne has been discussed at length. In 2007, Wake Forest University School of Medicine released findings from the largest study ever conducted on acne & stress, and the results were telling. Teens who were under high levels of stress were 23% more likely to have increased acne severity. Our study, although with women aged 18 – 34 rather than teens, followed this trend. 68% of the acne-prone group reported regular stress compared to 61% of non-breakouts.

While scientists can’t say exactly how stress worsens acne, they do know that cells that produce sebum (the oily substance that mixes with dead skin cells & bacteria) have receptors for stress hormones. Increases in sebum can clog hair follicles on the skin, leading to a pimple or acne cyst.

Thus, the relationship between choosing healthy foods only and breakouts may be less surprising when considering the stresses of a strict & limiting diet. The answer here isn’t to limit healthy foods, but to ensure that moderation and balance are your reigning principles.

So what habits should we adopt?

Given the above, it makes sense that on the clear-skin side of the spectrum we found regular stress-management practices, such as yoga (2) and meditation (1). Our finding that yoga (with a 12.9% improvement rate) and meditation (with the #1 improvement rate of 14.3%) are linked with clearer skin does not stand alone. Scientists looked at a range of psychological treatments (including relaxation sessions, meditation, and cognitive behavior therapy) on skin diseases ranging from psoriasis, eczema, and acne. They found this field of ‘psychodermatology’ showed real benefits. They studied 900 participants in 22 studies to find that psychological therapies aimed at reversing bad habits had the largest effect. Our finding that stress was more prevalent among the acne-prone group while yoga & meditation (psychodermatologic behaviors) proved beneficial, provides additional weight to this theory.

While relaxation techniques like yoga & meditation are great habits to build for reducing stress-related breakouts, any way you can find to control your stress levels is helpful. Preventing stress hormones from wreaking havoc on your body will likely benefit your skin — and of course support your overall health and wellbeing.

Other great habits…

Supplementing your diet can really make a difference. It appears that regularly consuming fish (4) & eggs (5) can be helpful habits for reducing breakouts. Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that may reduce inflammation throughout the entire body. As inflammation worsens the redness & irritation of breakouts, supplementation with fish oil can be especially helpful in soothing & hydrating acne-prone skin. If you pick a fish oil, make sure it is non GMO, pure, potent and has the clinically studied ratios of EPA and DHA.

We also recommend to make sure that your digestion is at its absolute best. A combination of detoxifying plant extracts and powerful greens can be extremely impactful. HUM has published an entire research paper on the subject of supplementation and acne.

Our latest product, Flawless + Fearless has incorporated the latest in science, nutrition and acne. It combines our best sellers OMG and Daily Cleanse in 14 convenient daily packs.

Before implementing any changes and starting a regime, make sure you get your habits analyzed by one of our nutritionists.



You don’t have to just take our word on the best nutrition habits to clear skin. A major inspiration for this study came directly from the success HUM consumers found for reducing breakouts when they combined the detoxifying nutrients of Daily Cleanse and the anti-inflammatory properties of a pure and potent fish oil in OMG. Here are just a few of our favorites!

Will Cook is a freelance makeup artist who stumbled onto HUM in Sephora. Pretty soon, he created a video on HUM’s Daily Cleanse “Natural Acne Remedy!” Will found that “as for active breakouts I’ve seen a huge improvement in my skin.”

Freelance makeup artist Will Cook talking about HUM nutrients that cleared his acne

Sammy DeVincent took to instagram to share here Before and After journey with HUM’s Flawless + fearless.

Sammy's skin Before & After with HUM's Flawless + Fearless

Ryan Potter, who you may know as the voice of Hiro from  Disney’s Big Hero 6, shared his struggles with acne — and his HUM solutions — on Twitter.

Ryan Potter's Acne Solution

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