Does Detoxing Cause Acne? From Acne Woe to Glow

Does detoxing cause acne - woman concerned about her skin

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Does detoxing cause acne? Yes, detoxing may cause acne. Sometimes it’s a good sign that your skin is detoxing and you’re closer to clearer skin. If you’re seeing smaller pimples without inflammation, this is a good sign.

However, if there are harmful substances or active ingredients in your detox’s daily routine which are irritating your skin, then your breakouts may be a bad sign instead. It’s a good idea to check what you have recently added to your routine. Maybe that’s the real problem.

For the best ways to quickly clear your skin during a detox, keep scrolling.

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Be beauty. Be plant-based!

As a former Registered Nurse and avid plant-muncher, I’m in love with how simple plant-based foods make it so easy to be beautiful.

Amy is facing a dilemma. Is her detoxing the cause of acne? She had always taken great pride in her skin, valuing its health and aspiring to achieve a flawless complexion. So, when Amy decided to embark on a detox journey for overall well-being, she had high hopes for her skin’s transformation as well. Little did she know that her detox would come with an unexpected side effect: acne breakouts.

As Amy progressed with her detox regimen, diligently following the prescribed methods, she couldn’t help but notice the emergence of blemishes on her skin. Panic began to set in as she wondered if her detox was to blame.

Skip to: How long does a detox breakout last?

Seeking answers, Amy immersed herself in research about the connection between detoxing and acne. She stumbled upon claims that touted detoxing as the ultimate solution to banish acne, leading to healthier and clearer skin. Intrigued, she couldn’t help but wonder if her detox could indeed be causing her newfound acne troubles.

Her investigation revealed the significance of dead skin cells in clogging pores and triggering acne. Amy started to question whether her detox was shedding dead skin cells at an accelerated rate, resulting in the acne breakouts she was experiencing. Uncertainty clouded her mind as she struggled to determine if her detox was a good sign or merely exacerbating the issue.

Reading more, Amy discovered that some acne could actually be a good sign. If pimples weren’t inflamed, acne could be a signal that her skin could be responding well to a detox. These pimples are smaller and resolve themselves quite quickly compared to her usual acne. On the other hand, if acne was inflamed this could be a signal of harmful detox ingredients or toxins, or her skin’s reaction to something in her routine. 

Amy realised that her skin health is complex in nature, with various factors that contribute to acne breakouts (including hormones, diet, and lifestyle). She shouldn’t panic just yet. After all, her skin was the largest organ, so of course it’s really difficult to pinpoint one single cause like a detox. She also learned that her skin type might react differently to detoxing, and it wasn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. However, regardless of all that, she could always create the best conditions for skin healing by eating more antioxidant-rich plant-based food and voiding foods which promote acne. 

Woman in green smiling after wondering, does detoxing cause acne?
Skip to: How to quickly clear your skin after a detox

With this newfound knowledge and a clearer understanding of her skin’s process, Amy decided to focus on supporting her skin consistently for optimal optimal health and beauty, instead of stressing about short-term impacts.


It’s so frustrating when you make the big decision to change to your routine, trying to nurture healthier skin. Clear skin. 

It demands a big commitment. And now that you have made that commitment, sacrificing enjoyment of your favourite foods and drinks, it’s time to see an improvement in the mirror. 

But it’s not happening.  

You watch as more acne breakouts pop up instead. The detox is having the opposite effect you wanted. Even worse, you committed all this effort to the detox, you don’t need to waste even more by managing additional skin problems as well!

Is it time to quit the detox?

No. Your zits could be perfectly normal. They might even be a good sign that the detox is working.


This really depends on the kind of detox regime you have chosen. 

If your detox involves avoiding dairy products, fatty foods, processed carbs etc. then your acne is probably a natural skin detox. This is when your skin purges all the gunk that has been building up in your pores like dirt, toxins, dead skin cells and grime because you have finally given it a break.

In this case acne is a natural, common and good side effect of the detox journey. 

However, if you’re taking something like detox tea with unique ingredients you have never been exposed to before, you might also be having a reaction to a new ingredient instead.

If you are trying to detox your skin by using skincare products like a lot of exfoliation or deep cleaning face masks, you might not have detox acne but inflammation and irritation instead. Especially if the face masks are thick and aren’t washed off thoroughly (an easy thing to do). 


In my experience, detox acne doesn’t last as long as other types of breakouts e.g. horrible hormonal or cystic acne producing those raised, sore red pimples that are so deep in your skin that they take forever to get rid of.

Even better, detox breakouts are never as big or as bad as the other kinds. When your skin is purging, proper detox acne consists of small pus-filled zits, not those big ones that are inflamed and begging for everyone to stare at them.  

Then these smaller pimples disappear in a couple days (or sooner).

Overall, detox acne isn’t a big a deal when compared to the horrible, painful, ‘look at me!’ acne that occurs when you are hormonally out of whack, or have been eating a lot of sugar and dairy (which can have a negative hormonal impact on the human body). 

Another great thing to be aware of is that each time you detox, the less acne breakouts you will get. I have noticed this applies to detox acne, but also when I give in to junk food, the subsequent breakouts are smaller as well. 

Smaller pimples, smaller patches of acne, less inflammation and it all disappeared pretty quickly without me having to make a special effort. 


If your acne looks like it’s just pus trying to burst through your skin (yes, it’s disgusting but it’s also an honest description!) then this is a good sign. It’s just the detoxification process. 

Personally, whenever I have been eating a lot of junk (Christmas and Easter are the usual suspects), I’m glad to see the signs of detox acne afterwards. This means I’m doing the right thing for my skin.

These kinds of pimples are also the easiest to manage. 

Just remember to eat antioxidant-rich foods every day and try not to scratch at them. Detox acne is so easy to manage though, that even when I have scratched at these pimples I find they don’t spread like other types of acne.


Possibly. But whether you have dry skin or oily skin, there are better things for your to do than question if detoxing can cause acne. it’s better to spend your focus on:

  1. A hygienic and effective skincare routine (i.e. making sure your skincare products are gentle on your skin and avoiding irritation), and 
  2. Eating foods and drinks rich in the nutrients and antioxidants your skin is thirsty for.
Does detoxing cause acne - green tea


The best foods for detox breakouts

Eating acne-fighting foods is the best way to support your skin during the purging and healing process. The easiest ways to get started are:

  • Drinking green tea: Green tea helps your immune system to fight infection and it’s full of antioxidants. I like to think of it as the easiest ‘leafy greens’ you’ll eat today and it’s better than the boring (but important) recommendation of drinking plenty of water
  • Eating antioxidant-rich fruits: Berries are the queens of antioxidant-rich fruits, as well as brightly coloured fruits like mango. 
  • Flavouring your food with spices: Ginger, turmeric and cinnamon are brimming with antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory as well. 

With foods like this in your diet you will spend less time stressing whether detoxing causes acne and more time enjoying brighter skin.


The number one thing you can do for acne-free skin is eating a healthy diet. Your chances of a breakout drop dramatically.

The number one healthiest diet for skincare is a plant-based one. Forget about the idea of a ‘balanced diet’ that includes lots of eggs, meat and fish for protein. These are low in antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E and aren’t even the best sources of protein for your skin anyway (when it comes to nurturing your natural beauty). 

Instead, focus on plant-based foods which are high in antioxidants and are the best foods for detox and liver function (which is the organ responsible for detoxing)

There are several kinds of diets that fall into the plant-based family such as:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan 
  • Wholefood plant-based 

Other diets like the Mediterranean diet and the flexitarian diet also encourage more plant-based foods and are still a great way to fight your skin problems. All of these are great for antioxidants and combating free radicals. Start with the one you are most likely to stick with. 

The closer you eat to a whole food, plant-based diet, the more nourished your skin will be. It will also be less exposed to the hormones and toxins found in foods like milk, cheese, meat and fish.

Yes, it can feel like a big commitment. However your skin is the largest organ in your body. Putting in the effort to make your skin healthier from the inside out will also benefit your mood and your weight.

Since I went plant-based, it’s rare for me to experience breakouts.


It’s easy to feel anxious when you need your skin to be clearer right away, especially when you get acne flare-ups instead.

Resist the urge to use more and more skincare treatments to eliminate your acne during a detox, as:

  1. You are more likely to irritate your skin and cause inflammation when your skin is really just trying to clear out the gunk and heal
  2. You could delay the healing process which means your acne shows for even longer

The next time you are thinking about a detox, especially for a big event, try to plan your detox so that you have enough time to move through this clearing process and your skin can heal itself before the big day.


If you have been detoxing for a while, and still experiencing breakouts, I’m sorry that your skin and you are still suffering from this. Here are a few questions to consider, which could help you diagnose what the underlying problem might be.

1. What are you using for your detox?

If you are simply cleaning our your diet, then you likely don’t have much to worry about. I find that acne breakouts that happen right after I quit sugar, processed carbohydrates and fatty foods/oil all go away pretty quickly. Within days really and without me having to buy any special skincare products.

Even better, detox acne never becomes the problematic, painful, raised and glaringly red kind of hormonal acne.

However, if you are using new supplements or programs, or even exotic detox tea, there could be harmful substances in these which could upset your skin (and your health!). Skin issues are a great indicator of overall health, so don’t sacrifice the health of the rest of your body for your skincare goals. Especially as a healthy body supports healthy skin!

Also, have you tried any new skincare products? Perhaps there are some new active ingredients which are irritating your skin. If your acne breakouts are red and inflamed, irritation is more likely the cause than a regular detox breakout. 

2. Is your acne worse than usual?

If this acne flare-up is worse than usual, have a good think about anything you new you have added to your diet or to your skincare regime (see above). Detox acne is annoying, but it shouldn’t be worse acne than usual. 

3. Have you been washing off your skincare products thoroughly?

You might simply have an issue with poor technique. Or maybe you have a product that is too rich for your skin and really needs a good rinse off in order to avoid breakouts. Have you been using a new facial sheet mask for oily skin? Then it’s pretty easy to get acne when you haven’t washed this off as best you can. 

Or maybe you’re washing/exfoliating too much trying to get rid of dead skin cells. This also causes irritation and inflammation, which contribute to acne.

4. Have you also tried to improve your diet?

If you are trying to detox your skin but are still eating highly processed foods rich in carbs and fats, or sugary juices which promote inflammation, then you will probably continue to struggle with your acne. Don’t spend too much time wondering does detoxing cause acne. In fact, detox acne might not be the problem in this case, but junk food acne instead. 

5. Is this the first time you have cleaned out your diet?

When I first started eating healthier by clearing out the chips, chocolate and bread in my life, the pimples that resulted made me miserable and feel hopeless.

Looking back on that time however, it makes a lot of sense.

For years I had been eating your average Western diet, with bread, lots of dairy milk and cheese, red meat, ice-cream, chips, chocolate and more. My skin (and my body) was full of ingredients that it didn’t need and frankly didn’t want. 

In a case like this, you do want your detoxing to cause acne. Let the junk out!

Eating more plant-based gave my body the nutrients it needed to work better, and in working better my skin started to clear out all the crap in it. 

So really, our skin is just doing its job – and a good job of that too.

All we need to do is learn how to best help it, so that the purging and acne that happens resolves itself as soon as possible. 

So, does detoxing cause acne? Acne breakouts are always unwelcome and wondering if your detox causes acne is not fun. However detox acne is actually a good signal of progress for your skin. Focusing on a healthy lifestyle and eating brightly coloured fruits, drinking green tea and making sure your skincare technique is thorough will help steer your skin out of acne breakouts and into the clearer skin you want sooner.