The Surprising Effects the Keto Diet Can Have on Your Skin

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POPSUGAR Photography | Diggy Lloyd
POPSUGAR Photography | Diggy Lloyd

The ketogenic diet has become more mainstream over the past year thanks to celebrity endorsements from stars like Halle Berry, and the amazing before and after weight-loss transformations. While there's still much to learn about the low-carb, high-fat diet and how it affects the body, experts have found that the benefits are greater than weight loss alone.

Steve Phinney, MD, PhD, chief medical officer at Virta Health, told POPSUGAR, "Anecdotally, there are many stories of people having clearer skin, more energy, sharper cognition, and reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. But the fact of the matter is, there is not yet any long term, peer-reviewed data that connects these improvements to nutritional ketosis."

According to Dr. Phinney, "Inflammation is directly associated with conditions such as certain forms of acne and arthritis." Dr. Phinney expressed that it's very possible that reducing inflammation through nutritional ketosis could improve "a whole host of conditions," including acne. There are many variables that cause acne, and if inflammation is what triggers your breakouts, an anti-inflammatory diet could help manage them.

Anna Guanche, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, California said, "The keto diet and low-carb diets are helpful in making the skin stay pliable and supple." According to Dr. Guanche, a diet high in sugar can mimic diabetes, which then induces glycation, "where modified sugars attach themselves to the tissues [of the skin], causing hardening of arteries and other tissues." In turn, the skin becomes less pliable and more likely to wrinkle, she said.

Dr. Guanche also busted a common myth about acne: that it's caused by foods like chocolate. "It's not the chocolate itself, but the sugar in chocolate and candies, that make people break out." Her advice for preventing breakouts: "Watch the sugar intake. Dairy products are variable — some breakout from them and some don't."

If you aren't up to following the keto diet to prevent and manage breakouts, Dr. Guanche recommends using the Neutrogena Acne Free Wash ($10) and the Hydrance Light Hydrating Emulsion by Avene ($32). These products are best for people who have oily or acne-prone skin. Be sure to consult your dermatologist to develop a skincare routine that will work the best for you.