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#1 Cates

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 11:47 PM

I am just about 100% sure that the cause of my cystic acne (on my chin and around my mouth) is COFFEE.

I know this is really LONG. If you don't want to hear the back story, skip the next four paragraphs (to the bold text).

I have tried to figure out what could be causing it for years now. It has been so frustrating. Just a little info about me: First of all, I'm a female, I'm 25 years old, and I'm a healthy weight (on the low end of average for body fat percentage). I have dry skin (even water dries me out). I never had acne as a teen, maybe one small normal zit that went away in a few days once every few months. It seemed like the cystic acne very gradually came on after I got into college when I was 19. Since I turned 20 though, it's seemed like I've had at least one major/huge cyst on my chin at all times, sometimes five or more, all located around my mouth and chin, which take months and months to go away and leave dark scars when they're finally gone.

In the past few years I've come on this site, read the message boards, used the regimen that's recommended here, etc. I've tried to make a bunch of changes to my external environment (changing my pillow case every other day, using different laundry detergent/fabric softener, changing my shampoo/conditioner, washing my hands a lot more in case I touch my face on accident, using clean towels every time I dry my face, etc.). I've tried lots of different topical treatments like clindamycin, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and natural stuff like honey masks, turmeric, lemon, etc. Tried different cleansers/moisturizers from the typical brand names to more expensive ones that other prominent bloggers have said good things about. Didn't seem to make much of a difference. (The regimen on this site helped a little bit, but I didn't like the bleaching of my pillow cases and the fact that the cleanser was too harsh for my skin, the benzoyl peroxide really dried me out, and the moisturizer didn't moisturize enough... no matter how much I used my skin was still dry and tight.) Oh! I even went almost a full year without wearing makeup (which was horrible)! No change.

I've also tried to make significant changes to my diet. In 2009 I cut out dairy from my diet for over three months (probably 95%) because I used to have so much of it (sour cream, butter, yogurt, milk, cheese...) and for me that was difficult. I noticed a small, somewhat significant difference in my acne, but not enough to make me believe for sure it was THE cause, since I have had dairy all my life - I mean, why now? why would it start affecting me all of a sudden in my 20s? Anyway, I also tried to cut out table sugar and start using agave nectar for a while since it's supposed have a lower glycemic index (some websites mentioned that foods with a high GI could cause acne). I tried having less "inflammatory foods" and more foods that help with inflammation. I tried increasing my water intake, drinking lemon water every day... Didn't notice a difference with any of it. (I have always had a pretty healthy diet - lots of home-cooked meals, with meat and veggies. I rarely have fast food, and "dessert" was a small glass of orange juice most of the time.)

So I pretty much gave up the fight because I wasn't okay with going on Accutane - I did want kids eventually, and I don't trust something that screws with your system so badly that you have to go on birth control just to use it. It just wasn't worth it to me. So I was resigned to believe that my cystic acne was hormonal - that I just had some sort of hormone imbalance that I couldn't really do anything about.

Come October 2010, I become pregnant. Over the next four months I saw my acne slowly disappear, no new cysts. I automatically assumed it was because of all the hormonal changes my body was going through from being pregnant and didn't think twice about it.

At this time, I also cut out coffee, soda, and black/green tea from my diet, because well, you're supposed to when you're pregnant. (Previously I only drank coffee about once or twice a week, and usually it was some blended thing or a caramel macchiato. I had a soda maybe once every two weeks, and I had an arnold palmer (lemonade + black tea) about three times a week.) During the next four months I had NO coffee and NO black or green tea.) Also, I had severe aversions to anything sugary or sweet for almost three months, so I stopped drinking orange juice and had mostly bland or salty foods. Another things that changed was I started drinking a LOT more milk (2%), eating a lot more ice cream, and having a little milk and dark chocolate just about every day (so a little bit of caffeine).

*Side note: During this time I would wash my face only at night (but not every night), with Philosophy cleanser. About half the time I'd go to sleep with my makeup on (makeup: American Beauty liquid foundation and Bare Minerals powder). The times I would wash my face I'd use some basic Lubriderm lotion as moisturizer, the times I didn't, I didn't use any moisturizer or anything. (I would go some days without bothering to take the makeup off because I was at home all day with morning sickness.)

So, four months into my pregnancy I decide I really want some coffee ice cream, and I start having a few spoonfuls every other day for about a week. What happens? I get my first zit (actually two of them) since being pregnant - not major cysts, but fairly normal sized zits. Around this time I was also finally getting over my morning sickness, so I thought, this has got to be my hormones starting to go back to their normal selves. A few days later (still having the coffee ice cream) it dawns on me that it could be the coffee, so I stop having the ice cream and continue to cut out all coffee. NO new zits after that.

Two and a half months later, here I am, craving a blended mocha. So I get one to share with my husband and end up drinking half of it (this particular mocha tasted like it had some kind of concentrated coffee in it). THE NEXT DAY, I notice I've developed a MAJOR cyst underneath my skin on the corner of my chin, and the rest of the skin around my mouth and chin feels tingly like I'm about to get more. Ugh.

It being the coffee makes sense since I started gradually getting cystic acne in my 20s when I was in college and started drinking a lot more coffee at that time in order to handle the workload. I rarely had any coffee in high school, which was why I rarely had any issues with acne.

So this is why I believe it's the coffee - for me (and potentially for many other people). Somehow my system does not function properly when I have coffee and it expresses this by giving me horrible cystic acne. But there are like >250 different chemical compounds in coffee so it's not terribly surprising.

Ultimately I just wanted to share my experience because I know how horrible it is to have cystic acne and not know why! All I can say is that even though I LOVE coffee drinks, I am going to cut coffee out of my diet from now on. If you've had a similar experience to me (you're a girl, you're having cysts with dry skin, not being able to find any relief) at least just TRY cutting out coffee. I found one website during all my many hours researching possible causes in the past five years where a woman had mentioned she discovered her cystic acne on her chin was for sure because of coffee and I didn't want to try cutting it out because she provided no other details, it was just one testimony, and I enjoyed coffee too much. But I should have just tried it. I figured I didn't drink enough of it to make a difference. Also, when I cut out dairy for three months and noticed a slight difference in my acne, it was probably because I was also having less coffee (doesn't taste as good with soymilk to me).

I hope this helps someone else. If I find out for some odd reason that it's not the coffee and it's something else (what, I don't know. Maybe too much sugar, but I sincerely doubt it) I will come back and edit this post.

Good luck everyone. Cystic acne is a B.

edit: I have also tried taking large doses of essential fatty acids every day (Omega 3/6/9 - in the appropriate proportion), and I tried using Apple Cider Vinegar as a topical treatment for the cysts as well as putting it in water with honey and drinking it. (Neither worked.)

edit #2: Other things I've tried that didn't work: Coconut oil (in home made smoothies, in place of olive oil when cooking, and for "pulling" - swishing some in your mouth every morning for 30 seconds or so, which is supposed to draw out toxins). Jojoba oil on my face as a moisturizer and mixing with my cleanser to help my dry skin. Essential oils (eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, tea tree...) directly on cysts. Baking soda as an exfoliator once in a while in my cleanser. I actually tried going without shampoo and conditioner for a while, using baking soda + water as shampoo and just honey water as conditioner... I could only handle that for so long. I've tried using only water to wash my face and no cleanser. Tried getting more zinc in my diet. Tried a Bare Minerals "acne fighting" powder that has sulfur in it.

If I can remember anything else I'll edit this again. Sorry, after 5+ years of trying to figure this out, I've tried more things than I can remember it seems.



***LAST EDIT (01-13-2012): I discovered that it is in fact, the CAFFEINE in the coffee that causes my cystic acne. Since coffee was the only real caffeinated beverage that I used to drink often and it has SO much caffeine in it, it appeared that it was just coffee. I ended up doing some more trial and error after posting this and found I could still have decaf coffee without having a cystic acne breakout. I am continuing to limit my intake though to a few times per week because of the small amount of caffeine that remains in even decaf.

I hope this helps someone else, who like me, has struggled for YEARS (almost 7 now?) trying to figure out what was causing these painful cysts on my face. I'm just happy that now all I have to deal with is all the scars, that will hopefully fade with time.

Edited by Cates, 13 January 2012 - 03:05 PM.


#2 Acne Security

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 12:14 AM

I hope you see its not likely the coffee but the caffeine in coffee. Caffeine has loads of negative effects on me - not just acne related. Being that its more of a drug than food it doesn't surprise me. If you want it to be an accurate trial cut out pop, tea etc...

#3 Cates

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 12:31 AM

QUOTE (hockeymc16 @ Apr 14 2011, 01:14 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I hope you see its not likely the coffee but the caffeine in coffee. Caffeine has loads of negative effects on me - not just acne related. Being that its more of a drug than food it doesn't surprise me. If you want it to be an accurate trial cut out pop, tea etc...



I've thought about it being the caffeine. I did cut out almost all caffeine for four months (except for the little bit of caffeine that is in chocolate, which is nowhere near the amount in tea, coffee, or soda). The problem is (I didn't want to make my post any longer than it already was...) I've had caffeinated soda since my fourth month (some root beer has caffeine in it, and I've had a significant amount of it the past few months). I also grew up drinking tons of Dr. Pepper. I had way more Dr. Pepper in high school than I ever had coffee.

If I go back to drinking iced tea and I get acne again, then I'll revisit caffeine as a possible culprit. It just doesn't carry the same weight of evidence for me that coffee does. If it's not coffee, it doesn't make sense that my acne would have started when I started drinking more and more coffee, and it doesn't make sense that my acne would get slightly better when giving up dairy (and drinking less coffee) while drinking a lot more iced tea.

So no, for me, it's still the coffee.

Edited by Cates, 14 April 2011 - 12:34 AM.


#4 Acne Security

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 12:36 AM

QUOTE (Cates @ Apr 14 2011, 02:31 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (hockeymc16 @ Apr 14 2011, 01:14 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I hope you see its not likely the coffee but the caffeine in coffee. Caffeine has loads of negative effects on me - not just acne related. Being that its more of a drug than food it doesn't surprise me. If you want it to be an accurate trial cut out pop, tea etc...



I've thought about it being the caffeine. The problem is (I didn't want to make my post any longer than it already was...) I've had caffeinated soda since my fourth month (some root beer has caffeine in it, and I've had a significant amount of it the past few months). I also grew up drinking tons of Dr. Pepper. I had way more Dr. Pepper in high school than I ever had coffee.

If I go back to drinking iced tea and I get acne again, then I'll revisit caffeine as a possible culprit. It just doesn't carry the same weight of evidence for me that coffee does. It doesn't make sense that my acne would have started when I started drinking more and more coffee. It doesn't make sense that my acne would get slightly better when giving up dairy (and drinking less coffee) while drinking more iced tea.

So no, for me, it's still the coffee.


Coffee has a much more intense dose of caffeine so it will have a greater effect than pop etc; caffeine, though a controversial subject, is accepted by many as a catalyst for acne. There's a long list of crazy compounds in almost anything you'll drink these days, aside from water and juice.

GL

#5 Cates

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 12:47 AM

[/quote]

Coffee has a much more intense dose of caffeine so it will have a greater effect than pop etc; caffeine, though a controversial subject, is accepted by many as a catalyst for acne. There's a long list of crazy compounds in almost anything you'll drink these days, aside from water and juice.

GL[/quote]

If that is true, then it would just mean my body can handle the amount of caffeine in just about everything - but coffee. The only other reason why this doesn't make a lot of sense in my particular experience though, is that when I drink coffee, I drink very little of it and I sip on it - meaning it takes me hours to drink just half a cup, so I shouldn't be "overloading" my system with caffeine when I drink coffee (and I'm not talking black coffee, I'm talking coffee with a lot of milk). So I'm still skeptical. We'll see what happens when I go back to drinking iced tea, because I started drinking iced tea regularly (at least one tall glass a day) in just the past couple of years, during which time I cut out dairy for a few months.

#6 Acne Security

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 12:56 AM

Of course do what works best for you in your situation, I just wanted to suggest trial covering all of the potential problems in your case to ensure success, I wish you the best with your skin care definitely let me know how it works for you in a couple months thumbsup.gif

#7 Cates

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 01:00 AM

Thanks, it should be pretty easy to check once I'm done being pregnant and go back to drinking lots of iced tea (while cutting out coffee entirely). I'll try to make sure I update this if I find out it seems to be the caffeine and not just the coffee!

#8 mystril

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 08:52 AM

Hi Cates. Yes. Cystic Acne is a B. Wrecks everything in Life.


Been on accutane but had another relapse again. Tried most of things you've mentioned, didn't work for long term.

Out of 1001 hearsay methods to treat Acne I was really despondent & decided to look somewhere else, Diet.

Maybe one of the compounds in Coffee is causing an allergic reaction to your body's immune system?

Mine was gluten. Years and years I have been gluten (cereals, rice, white bread, pastas..) and I have no clue why my acne was so much horrible than my peers (although owing to genes as well).

Upon looking around in the internet. I realized I am probably allergic to gluten-related products. So I CUT OUT ALL gluten products in my diet. Amazing my acne had subsided pretty well after the 1st week. I have removed Dairy in my products as well. (just in case)

Another point I would like to share is our Colon health. Years of eating antibiotics (for acne) has caused considerable damage to our Colon where most of our immune system are at work. I have suffered IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) over the years and realized that one of another helping hand in my Acne would be poor Colon Health.

I took probiotics, prebiotics and consume fibre supplements to improve my immune system and purge toxics. It was inspired from another popular post (My Cystic Acne) in this sub-forum as well. 4 weeks into improving my colon health doing the above 3 steps, I feel better and there were less newer cysts forming.


My Thoughts on Treating Acne if all else fail
+ Finding out your Food Allergies
+ Good Colon Health
+ Healthy Diet


It would be presumptuous to jump on the gun and do professional diagnosis on ourselves but if the food we've stop eating, stop giving us dreadful acne why not?

I myself is a testbed for these observations so it could not be the answer for everybody out there for Acne. Just my 5cents.

Good luck to everybody out there in their journey! I had a long struggle too myself and I understand well.

Best of luck!


#9 Vanbelle

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 11:49 AM

QUOTE
In 2009 I cut out dairy from my diet for over three months (probably 95%) because I used to have so much of it (sour cream, butter, yogurt, milk, cheese...) and for me that was difficult. I noticed a small, somewhat significant difference in my acne, but not enough to make me believe for sure it was THE cause, since I have had dairy all my life - I mean, why now? why would it start affecting me all of a sudden in my 20s?


This has frustrated me too. I used to drink milk every day, sometimes 2-3 glasses a day. I love milk, and I would drink it 2-3 times a day if someone told me it was okay. But, the theory I'm going with as you might have experienced, is food sensitivity? Sometimes our favorite foods slowly become our poison when we have too much of it, developing an intolerance to it. If you have bad digestion and eat too much of one thing, it can start causing problems. It really sucks.

QUOTE
Anyway, I also tried to cut out table sugar and start using agave nectar for a while since it's supposed have a lower glycemic index (some websites mentioned that foods with a high GI could cause acne).


Haha, I tried the agave nectar thing too. Agave nectar is delicious, but really the sad thing is most of the reports of the low GI of agave are lies. Agave I guess in it's raw state might be different, but once it is processed and refined to get the sweetness, you are consuming something as bad as sugar, also broken down through the liver as any other bad sweet. The whole agave nectar craze is a bunch of fooey. I wish it wasn't because for a while I thought it was my miracle answer to my sugar problem (I love sugar, lol but who doesn't).


So are you saying just coffee? Or drinks really high in caffeine (tea too)?

I'd also really like to know what happens when you add super sugary things back in like orange juice on a regular basis.

I have no clue why coffee itself, and not the caffeine, would give you cystic acne...I'm going to keep researching this...I don't drink coffee anyway but I can eliminate caffeinated teas for sure. Thanks for the tip!

Edited by sgoodleitz, 06 May 2011 - 09:01 AM.


#10 Cates

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 03:57 PM

I have never had a problem with my digestive system, which I'm really thankful for, because my husband has had horrible issues with his, and my older sister has had some irritable bowel issues in the past. I have always had great digestion, even when I drink a lot of milk, or eat or drink just about anything really (except coffee - because coffee accelerates gastric emptying). So I've ruled out digestive issues as a possible culprit for my acne, although there was a time where I tried eating more yogurt that contains live cultures... and that didn't do anything for me.

I've realized that it can't be the sugar, because when I have a lot of sugar it doesn't affect my skin, and... I've recently had to take a blood sugar test (to see if I'm at risk for gestational diabetes while being pregnant - all pregnant women have to take this test) and I passed with flying colors. Apparently my system handles sugar like a pro, even when it is burdened with growing another human being! For the test they make you drink this grossly sugary drink and then draw your blood an hour later to see how high your blood sugar is - and even then, my blood sugar stayed steady.

With caffeine - I've been investigating whether or not it's some other component in coffee that causes my acne or if it's just because there's so much more caffeine in coffee than in other caffeinated beverages.

I've made a list of common drinks I've had in the past and their caffeine content, and I found that even when I would drink a "tall" Starbucks frappuccino, I was getting quite a bit more caffeine than in a Dr. Pepper, ounce for ounce (85-90mg caffeine vs. 40mg). It's harder to tell how much caffeine there is in black tea, since it depends on how long you brew it, etc. But there's still a significantly smaller amount of caffeine (at least in the black tea I was drinking), but more than in a Dr. Pepper. One of my favorite coffee drinks used to be a Starbucks Doubleshot, the ones in those small cans - and that has 130mg of caffeine in it!! I remember getting the shakes after drinking those...

So here is the news of my experimenting with caffeine as of the past two weeks...
The other day I decided to try a tall decaf mocha frappuccino from Starbucks to see how that would affect my skin (I'm not sure why I didn't think of trying this before), and I don't think it really affected my skin at all. Also, I couldn't wait to try out my old arnold palmer (lemonade + black tea) drink that I used to drink a lot of to see how that would affect my skin, and I think I went a little overboard one day with drinking too much of it (a lot more than I normally would) - and I noticed a difference in my skin the next day. The cyst(s) on my chin that had developed from the last time I had coffee had flared up again after it had started slowly healing up on it's own and going away.

All of this being said, I'm going to continue to test out the "caffeine is the culprit" hypothesis just because it's possible that I might have tested out the decaf frappuccino and the ice tea too close together... the frappuccino may have had some latent affect on my skin a few days after drinking it, the day after I had a lot of iced tea...? So in the near future I will do more experimenting with decaf coffee and iced tea, and I'll be more careful to separate the two. I know that the other post I found online about coffee causing this person's cystic acne that it didn't matter whether they had decaf or not.

But, I'm starting to lean towards it potentially being caffeine though - and that, for me, I just haven't experienced having problems with almost every other caffeinated drink because my system can handle a certain amount of caffeine. But the amount of caffeine in a 12oz coffee/frappuccino automatically overwhelms my defenses and causes me to break out with cystic acne. :/

So we'll see, I've got a bit more experimenting to do I guess. Just wanted to give an update though.

#11 asn6

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 08:15 PM

I don't care what anyone says is or isn't true: coffee WRECKS my face!

I am at the point where I don't even want to drink it because of the horrible cysts around my mouth and chin that I get in the few days after I've had any kind of coffee. I always thought it was the milk or non dairy (soy) creamer I used, so I started drinking it black, and things just got worse. I like coffee, but it's not worth the agony. I don't know if I'm allergic to it or it's the caffeine, but I can drink Coke all day long and not get the cysts I get from coffee.

If you're getting bad acne around your mouth and chin that was adult onset, this is definitely something to be aware of! I replaced coffee with water or tea and my acne has gotten a lot better. My worst breakout ever was when I was studying for the bar exam and was drinking the most coffee I have ever had in my life. I know I get acne from other sources, but coffee is a big cause of acne for me.

#12 jarchi

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 10:56 PM

For those of you trying to eliminate coffee, you might like teeccino as a substitute. You can google teeccino for more info. I drink the French roast version and it's really good! smile.gif

#13 melissa6980

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 11:23 PM

Congrats on finding your trigger.

#14 Cates

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 02:34 PM

QUOTE (jarchi @ Apr 26 2011, 11:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
For those of you trying to eliminate coffee, you might like teeccino as a substitute. You can google teeccino for more info. I drink the French roast version and it's really good! smile.gif


Awesome! Thanks for letting me know! My husband has problems with coffee though he loves the flavor (he's had ulcerative colitis for a long time) and I've been wondering if there was anything out there that could work as a substitute... and now, I would like a substitute for myself after finding out how it can affect my skin! I will definitely try the teeccino.

#15 MG2011

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 04:55 PM

wow. i'm glad i found this. i've been doing a "sans" coffee experiment for about 20 days now, and i have not had any breakouts on my chin. Come to think of it, while i do have scarring on there from earlier breakouts (not sure what caused those), the main area for my breakouts recently has been on the skin just below and alongside my ears. so annoying, because that area is very tempting to pick!

My "sans" coffee experiment does not omit caffeine, in fact i should have tagged it as a "switch from coffee to green tea experiment!" I can't say green tea is doing wonders for my skin, but i am impressed at how alert i am. I am also very stressed at work and graduate classes--but more so, work. I take pride in my career, but there is just a lot of change happening.

Not to digress, but related to your story: that's too bad about coffee ice cream!!!
ohno.gif


#16 DRice

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:38 PM

oh no!! i am addicted to coffee sad.gif

i dont know if i could give it up sad.gif

best of luck though

#17 simplyluck

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 09:58 PM

I am soooo happy to have read your post! I have had cystic acne mostly on my chin for years! I have worked at coffee shops since high school so I guess I always just figured that it was just normal. I have yet to try cutting out coffee but I will definitely be doing so starting tomorrow! As much as I love it, I will love having clear skin even more! Crossing my fingers!

#18 Cates

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 05:50 PM

QUOTE (simplyluck @ May 2 2011, 09:58 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I am soooo happy to have read your post! I have had cystic acne mostly on my chin for years! I have worked at coffee shops since high school so I guess I always just figured that it was just normal. I have yet to try cutting out coffee but I will definitely be doing so starting tomorrow! As much as I love it, I will love having clear skin even more! Crossing my fingers!


I'm glad you might potentially benefit from reading my post! Hopefully you figure out soon whether coffee might be causing your acne or not. Even though I enjoy coffee, I love having clear skin more too. smile.gif

#19 Cates

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Posted 08 May 2011 - 11:31 PM

QUOTE (jarchi @ Apr 26 2011, 10:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
For those of you trying to eliminate coffee, you might like teeccino as a substitute. You can google teeccino for more info. I drink the French roast version and it's really good! smile.gif



Hey - Just wanted to update that I tried the Teeccino and although it is a good substitute for coffee (it does taste pretty good and I'm happy about the health benefits it can provide), I'm concerned that there actually is some component of coffee used in its formulation and I think it might have affected my skin! I read on the Teeccino website that they extract out of coffee particular flavonoids that are supposed to give coffee it's distinct flavor, and that they actually use this in their teeccino. So maybe that's my issue? The flavonoids?? Goodness. Anyway, I'm staying away from coffee AND caffeine AND now even teeccino for a while to see what happens.

For anyone that isn't affected by coffee - I mean, their skin in particular - but would like a healthier version of coffee, I still recommend the Teeccino. My husband is now drinking it in place of his coffee and it's great for him and his ulcerative colitis.

#20 Lily_Lilac

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  • Joined: 27-June 11

Posted 27 June 2011 - 08:01 PM

@Cates: Thank you for taking the time to write about your coffee connection and all the other anti-acne stuff you have tried. I, too, believe that coffee causes me to get giant cystic pimples.

Up until my early twenties I never drank coffee and I never had any acne. My skin was almost flawless. Then I began drinking coffee and all of the sudden I started getting the worst cystic pimples on my forehead. I have tried to go without coffee here and there, but as soon as I drink another cup I will have pimples growing underneath my skin. I also noticed that not all coffees make me break out. Starbucks is one of the worst offenders, I get cysts every time I have their coffee. But even though I know about this connection it's still pretty hard to break my coffee habit.