One way to celebrate National Chocolate Week? Busting that myth linking chocolate to your breakouts. Ever since our first visit to the dermatologist, we've been told that chocolate is the one food that should be avoided if clear skin is the end goal, but it isn't necessarily the cocoa in chocolate that can trigger a breakout—it's the sugar content. According to dermatologist Dr. Nicholas Perricone, spikes in blood sugar tend to trigger an inflammatory response in the skin. Foods that are high in sugar stimulate the oil glands in your skin, causing it to become more shiny and oily, which often leads to an unwanted bump. That being said, if you pay close attention to the nutrition label and opt for antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, your complexion should stay in the clear. Dark chocolate in particular is rich in flavonols, which are antioxidants that help to increase blood flow, not to mention, help your skin fight off UV damage and free radicals. It can also help to reduce sugar cravings, so if you have a sweet tooth as it is, consider dark chocolate a healthier alternative.
Though the pack of Lindt truffles in your cabinet may not present an immediate threat to your complexion, over-consumption of dairy may be, particularly if cystic breakouts are a major issue. "Dairy cows are given growth hormones, so the consumption of dairy products can become a factor that influences hormones, and as a result, trigger a hormonal breakout," says esthetician Rene Rouleau. "One solution would be to eliminate dairy for two weeks to see if that's a problem. From there, you can sort of determine just how much your skin can take." Those soul-crushing, under-the-skin pimples that never seem to surface usually are triggered by hormones, so if this happens to you often enough for it to be an issue, give the no-dairy approach a try. You may have to lay off the soft cheeses and swap the milk in your coffee for soy and almond options for a hot minute, but consider it a test of willpower.