20 Foods To Avoid For Healthy Skin

A healthy skin lifestyle is more than just your skincare routine or your daily activities. At Shion, we’re passionate about helping people make their skin beautiful, and we know that to look your best, you have to eat your best, too. If beautiful, smooth, glowing skin was easy to maintain, everyone would have better skin. Unfortunately, most people don’t know that a person’s diet is one of the largest determinants of their skin health, and that a lot of the most common foods that we eat are doing more harm than good for your skin. Our line of organic, anti-aging skin care products can give your skin a boost and protection from the sun. But to truly maximize the benefits of our products and enjoy the healthiest skin possible, you need to be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking. Read on to learn about what foods to avoid if you want healthy, glowing skin, and get the jump on the rest of the crowd!

Refined Carbs (Most Desserts)

Refined carbohydrates, another term for processed flour and processed sugar, is one of the worst things for your skin, causing a handful of issues for both your skin and your stomach. Refined carbs are unfortunately found in most of the baked desserts and tasty treats most people enjoy, from cake and doughnuts to even most muffins.

Refined carbs, while being a staple ingredient in many delicious treats, don’t give your body much nutritional value. It does feed something in your body, though: the bad bacteria in your stomach. Refined carbs, which break down into sugar when digested, are a favorite food of the bad bacteria in your stomach. Eating an excess of refined carbs allows the bad bacteria to feast, flourish, and proliferate in your gut, potentially crowding out the good bacteria that helps you digest food more efficiently. In fact, bad bacteria growth in your stomach has been linked in some studies to certain digestive issues. In essence, refined carbs feed the bacteria that can make it harder for you to digest food properly if they begin to overpower the good bacteria in your stomach.

Digestive issues aren’t the only thing the bad bacteria in your stomach can impact. Acne breakouts, which are another bacterial condition, are linked to having too much of the bad bacteria in your stomach. This is why a lot of skin care routines recommend replenishing “good” stomach bacteria with supplements and probiotic foods like sauerkraut.

Refined carbs pose more threats to your body than just acne and digestive issues. Refined sugars can also encourage your body to produce more skin oil, clogging your pores and further increasing your risk for acne breakouts.

When you consume refined sugar, like in a nice slice of coffee cake or a cupcake, your body releases insulin, which helps regulate your blood sugar by transporting sugar to your blood cells. Your body is challenged by refined sugars, which digest very rapidly. To try to keep up with the fast digestion, your body releases larger amounts of insulin in the hopes of bringing the sugars into your cells as quickly as they’re being digested. Studies have shown that these rapid spikes in insulin production can trigger higher production of sebum, your body’s oil that can clog your pores to form pimples, blackheads and other nastiness.

If that’s not bad enough, refined carbs also contribute to the aging of your skin. Processed sugar ages your skin literally by creating molecules called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. These molecules contribute directly to premature aging. When your body digests refined carbs, the sugar molecules attach themselves to proteins like collagen, forming AGE molecules. Your body can’t break the bonds of these molecules, and the affected collagen proteins that help your body form smooth, youthful skin become lost.

If you’re serious about cutting refined carbs out of your diet, you must do more than simply cut out table sugar, cake and other processed treats. You should also take special care to read food labels since refined carbs go by many names, including high-fructose corn syrup, table sugar, cane sugar, and glucose-fructose. Don’t forget that refined carbs can be found in most processed and store-bought foods, from everything from white flour to organic ketchup. Checking the labels of the food you buy is one of the best things you can do to maintain a healthy diet.

If you’re looking to replace refined carbs with a healthy alternative, you can use natural sweeteners like raw honey, apple sauce, maple syrup, green leaf stevia and coconut nectar with complete peace of mind. Use them in moderation of course, but these sweeteners will have far less of an impact on your blood sugar levels and are less likely to cause acne breakouts.


Milk is one of the most common skin triggers out there, and not just because it’s often forgotten how much sugar is in it. Milk is a pro-inflammatory food, which can highlight any existing inflammatory skin condition you have, like rashes, rosacea, acne and eczema, and make it worse. Milk is also one of the most common food allergies. The ability to digest dairy — specifically, the ability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk — is genetically linked, and only a small handful of people in Central Europe and their descendants are 100% lactose tolerant. Estimates suggest that 75% of the world population and 25% of the US population is lactose-intolerant. Most people who drink milk are still sensitive to lactose to varying degrees. If you’ve ever felt queasy after eating a lot of ice cream or farted a lot after enjoying a glass of milk, chances are your body is sensitive to it, too.

Repeatedly consuming a food you can’t easily digest can lead to you developing digestive conditions or, more likely, triggering an inflammatory response throughout your body, which commonly lead to acne and the flare-up of skin conditions.

If you’re looking to replace milk with a healthy alternative, you can try nut milks like coconut milk, cashew milk or almond milk. These milks are free of the hormones, antibiotics and lactose that are typically found in cow’s milk. Be sure, however, that they’re not artificially sweetened!

Fast Food

At this point, most people are aware to some degree that fast food isn’t good for you. After all, the trade-off one makes consuming fast food is trading the quality of the food for faster preparation times. But how does it impact your skin? Most fast food items are loaded with trans fats and deep-fried in refined vegetable oils like canola, safflower and peanut oils. These types of oils can aggravate any skin conditions you have because they’re loaded with omega-6 essential fatty acids.

Omega-6 fatty acids are actually important for your health; however, like many food things, the issue with omega-6 fatty acids comes down to striking a balance in your diet. You need a certain amount of omega-6 fatty acids for proper nutrition, but it shouldn’t exceed the amount of omega-3 fatty acids you get through your diet. Omega-6 fatty acids, like milk, are pro-inflammatory agents, and getting too much of them in your diet can cause inflammation throughout your body, triggering any skin conditions you have. Additionally, oxidizing vegetable oils creates free radicals, chemicals that have been found to destroy cells, including healthy skin cells, and contribute to premature aging.

Healthy alternatives to fast food include protein bars, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in abundance in wild fish, seafood, chia seeds, and grass-fed meats.


Gluten is a protein most commonly found in whole grains, like wheat, spelt, oats, kamut, rye and barley. Gluten is found most often in whole-grain-derived food and drink like beer and bread, but can also sometimes be found in sauces and condiments. Some people have a difficult time digesting gluten.

Gluten poses risks to your skin in a manner similar to refined carbohydrates. Gluten can cause your body to overproduce an important protein in your digestive tract called zonulin. Normally, zonulin helps moderate the tight junctions between the cells in your digestive tract, which prevents undigested food and viruses from passing through. However, when zonulin is overproduced, it can cause the zonulin to break apart those tight junctions instead. Like milk, refined carbs, and other foods that are unfriendly to your stomach, gluten can trigger inflammatory responses from your body, leading to flare-ups of acne and any skin conditions you may have.

You can replace bread with any number of gluten-free breads that have come onto the market in recent years. You can replace gluten in other applications with coconut flour, almond flour, brown rice, amaranth and millet.


Red wine may be known as a good source of antioxidants, but don’t believe the hype: alcohol might actually be worse overall for your skin if you’re trying to prevent acne and aging. Alcohol contains sugar, which contributes to spikes in your insulin and blood sugar levels, much like refined carbs do. Alcohol may also contribute to depleting your collagen, which is linked to the aging of your skin. Alcohol is also dehydrating, preventing your skin from retaining moisture, which can cause dark circles under your eyes if you drink too much too often.

Unfortunately, there’s no real replacement for alcohol while you’re enjoying a night out with friends. However, if you’re looking to minimize the impact to your skin, stick to clear spirits as they’re lower in sugar. If it’s legal in your state, you could also try marijuana, though consuming it in smoke or vapor form poses other serious risks to your skin’s health.


Despite what it does for your energy levels, that morning coffee or afternoon pick-me-up soda is no good for your skin. Regular caffeine consumption has been linked to increased cortisol levels, which causes inflammation of acne and other skin conditions, and throws your body’s other hormones out of whack.

The damage doesn’t end there. Sodas and most coffees that people enjoy are loaded with extra processed sugars, further increasing your risk for breakouts. Do you add cream to your coffee? Add the risks dairy poses to your skin to the equation. Your skin will look better and you will feel better in the long run the more you can cut these drinks out of your diet.

Odd as it may sound, bone broth is an alternative to coffee. It contains skin supportive ingredients like glycine, collagen and gelatin, in addition to the energy boost you’re looking for. If you just want a hot drink to sip without the caffeine, you can try decaf coffee or herbal teas.

Processed Meats

If you’ve ever woken up to puffy, swollen skin, chances are your meals the day prior included a lot of salt. One of the most common carriers of an excess amount of salt is processed meat, which can include store-bought meat and many restaurant offerings.

Processed meats like bacon, jerky and cured meats contain a sneakily high amount of salt, which contributes greatly to water retention and causes swelling and puffiness in your face.

Another tip: check the labels of the meat you buy. If it includes a preservative called sodium nitrate, put it back on the shelf! Sodium nitrate can break down collagen and elastin in your body, contributing to faster aging.

You can replace processed meats without going vegetarian by buying only grass-fed meats and sticking to white meat or seafood when ordering out. You could also request the chef use less alt when preparing your meal.


Nuts are a great source for healthy fats, but some have a higher ratio of omega-6 fatty acids. As we’ve discussed, omega-6 fatty acids are good for you in moderation, but can trigger acne flare-ups and aggravate skin conditions when consumed in excess. Nuts that are highest in omega-6 fatty acids include walnuts, brazil nuts, pine nuts and pecans.

Due to the other health benefits, it’s not as essential to cut these types of nuts as it is other foods in your diet, like fried foods and fast food. However, you can switch to nuts with a higher ratio of omega-3 fatty acids, like cashews, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, chia seeds and hemp.

Fried Foods

Fried foods present the same risks to your skin that fast food does. Fried food is high in omega-6 fatty acids and are often fried in oils that aren’t good for your skin. Eating too many high-fat foods like fast food and fried food can have a negative impact on your body’s circulation, which promotes that puffy skin you never want to see in the mirror.

White Bread & White Rice

White bread and white rice both contain gluten, which can be hard on your digestive issues and cause the inflammation of acne and skin conditions. White bread is one of the least nutritious types of bread and should be avoided. White rice, on the other hand, can be enjoyed in moderation if your body tolerates gluten well. Consider enjoying white rice as a complement to a higher-protein food like grass-fed chicken or beans to make digestion easier and guard against inflammation.


Almost all forms of candy are manifestations of the processed sugars that can wreak havoc on your skin and body. A little candy once in a while won’t hurt you, but try to consume candy as infrequently as possible. Consider what processed sugars can do to the collagen in your body before you enjoy another sweet treat.

Pretzels, Chips ‘n’ Dip

Pretzels, chips and many dips combine the skin and health risks of gluten and high-salt foods and add low nutritional value to the mix, making them one of the first foods you should cut if you’re trying to achieve healthier skin. Not all dips are off-limits, however. Some dips, like hummus or pesto, can even be good for you. Most store-bought dips, though, are loaded with more salt than you might be able to taste.

Movie Theater Popcorn

Where do we start with movie theater popcorn? We just mentioned salty snacks and the risks those pose to your skin. Unsalted popcorn is actually a healthy snack; however, movie theater popcorn is loaded with salt and calories — up to 1,000 calories in large-sized bags. And that’s before factoring in all the butter! Given that movie theaters typically only offer popcorn, soda, and candy, it’s best for your skin if you just enjoy the movie without a snack … or bring something from home like all of us do.


Condiments are fine in moderation, but they’re a secret source of salt and processed sugars when used in excess. Be mindful the next time you drizzle barbecue sauce or soy sauce on your food.

Sweet Tea

Sweet teas fall into the same category as sodas and coffees — while teas themselves contain many valuable nutrients, sweetened tea drinks can contain up to 10 teaspoons of artificial sugars per glass. As discussed, these processed sugars can inflame your acne and skin conditions and do a number on your body’s collagen, causing your skin to look saggy and flat.

Next time you’re craving a sweet drink, choose a drink made with berries and natural fruits instead.


Beyond being high in fat, mayonnaise also contains a lot of omega-6 fatty acids. You know the drill here: a little in moderation won’t hurt you, but a careful balance is key to avoid inflammation and other nastiness for your skin.

A healthy diet is a huge part of any effective skin care routine. Like anything in life, moderation is the key to the most enjoyment out of mealtime while making healthy choices for your skin and body. To truly put your skin care routine over the top, visit the Shion shop to pick up one of our anti-aging skin care creams or our new collagen-boosting drink! There’s no limit to the smoothness and beauty you can get out of your skin when you pair a healthy diet with our revolutionary anti-aging skin care products. Order today!