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Study Shows White Chocolate Causes Acne, Dark Chocolate Does Not.

Study Shows White Chocolate Causes Acne, Dark Chocolate Does Not.

At some point in time, we’ve all heard the about the infamous chocolate and acne link. The rumor came from a 1969 study conducted by Dr. Fulton headed a research study looking at the affects on acne between two groups – one that ate a bar comprised of cacao (chocolate) and vegetable oil and the “control group” which ate identical looking bars with no cacao. Observations from the study showed no difference between the chocolate group and the control group.


Actually, calling it the “chocolate” study is highly misleading, as chocolate is typically comprised of some variety of cacao, milk, and sugar. Each chocolate bar will have higher or lower levels of cacao and lower or higher levels of milk and sugar, respectively. So what we learned from Dr. Fulton’s study is simply that cacao does not cause acne.


Recently in 2014, a newer study on the effects of chocolate on acne was conducted by the Asian Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Their efforts elaborated further on different types of chocolate bars (white vs. dark) and their potential affect on the skin. Here’s what they found:



The Setup…

  • 57 volunteers with mild-moderate acne were given a 100g daily dose of chocolate for 30 days in one of the following groups:

    • white chocolate

    • dark chocolate – 100% cacao

    • no chocolate (control group)

  • Participants were both male and female

  • Ages ranged from 12-29


 The Results…

  • Total number of acne lesions were counted on day 1, 15, and 30

  • Control group (no chocolate) experienced no significant increase in acne

  • Dark Chocolate group experienced no significant increase in acne

  • White chocolate group did experience a significant increase in acne lesions compared to the other two groups


What Can We Learn…

Milk and sugar content are the two ingredients found in white chocolate and not in the 100% dark chocolate used in this study. As confirmed with previous studies, cacao itself does not trigger acne. But the two added factors of milk and sugar in fact do. Chocolate lovers, rejoice – you can still enjoy those dark bars and avoid breakouts! I recommend 70-80% cacao bars or more to be safe and acne-free :)


Elise May, CN + LE, is the owner and practitioner behind SKINutritious. She has helped over 1,000 clients clear acne with detoxing treatments, clear skin coaching, and holistic skincare. 

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