Eggs for Acne: Good or Bad? (The Definitive Guide)

Do eggs cause acne? Some can, but not the good ones!

Eggs.

Acne trigger, or skin savior?

Gawd, where do I start?

Okay, first, check in with your gut feeling.

Do you think eggs make YOUR skin break out?

I’ll bet the answer is something like, “I don’t know, Devin, I’m so frickin’ confused about eggs, which is why I’m reading your dang blog post, hoping for The Answer!”

So, here we go…

This is complicated, because nutritional “experts” have been demonizing eggs for decades.

That’s right, eggs have been getting a bad rap for a LONG time. Is it justified? Or is it the same bulls*** “science” that led to scaring people away from saturated fats, just so Big Vegetable Oil could sell us more margarine?

Are eggs really that bad? Or actually good for you, and for your skin?

Turns out, like most things, the devil is in the details.

(Argh! Why can’t we have a simple yes/no answer for once?!)

Some good things about eggs

Eggs are an AMAZING collection of kicka** nutrients. Like these:

  • Retinol-form vitamin A (a.k.a. healthy, low-dose Accutane!)
  • Choline (I don’t remember what this does, but it’s always on those “why are eggs healthy?” lists on the internets.)
  • Saturated fats (the safest fats for your skin, because they don’t oxidize and turn rancid like polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), and to some extent monounsaturated fats (MUFA), do)
  • Lecithin (I have it on good authority that lecithin helps your body bind and remove toxins! This is HUGE for acne. BTW this is in the YOLKS, not the whites. Do not get rid of the yolks, ever! Unless you’re whipping whites to stiff peaks and then recombining. 🙂 )
  • Sulfur (may help acne by binding and removing toxins from the body, and by helping regrow healthy skin[1] )
  • Cholesterol (required for making all hormones – and we need a good-functioning hormonal system to avoid acne!)
  • Iodine (HUGE for acne, because it purges toxic fluoride, which is a MAJOR acne trigger, via lipid peroxidation of PUFA)
  • Selenium (Your body needs this to make glutathione, the master antioxidant. Glutathione helps prevent lipid peroxidation, the #1 direct acne trigger in my view. And just one egg contains 25% of the RDA of selenium![2] )
  • Vitamin E (also helps block lipid peroxidation)
  • And eggs are super-low in histamine, if you’re sensitive to that![3]

Ok Devin, wait… so if eggs have all these good things, why do they seem to cause acne for some people?

So glad you asked!!

I have two big theories about this, and they’re both false accusations of eggs. Meaning it looks like eggs are triggering acne, but really it’s something else entirely.

Egg False Accusation #1: Iodine

The iodine content of eggs, about 27mcg per egg[4] , might be enough to trigger a fluoride purge, especially if you eat a 3-egg scramble.

Now if you’re not aware of this yet, fluoride is one of the WORST acne triggers, and it gets into your body from tap water, pesticides on non-organic food and wine, pharmaceuticals, non-stick pans, etc.

It hangs around in your body for 20+ years, because it has a SUPER high bonding affinity for calcium, meaning that it stores up deep in your bones. (Oh, and your pineal gland… there goes your spirituality! Thanks, Fluoride Industry! NOT.)

Unless you do something to push it out.

And that “something”, in this case, is iodine.

Iodine is a crucial mineral for things like walking, talking, and living.

(Oh, and having clear skin.)

That’s because your thyroid requires iodine to make your body’s metabolism work, and also to produce the supercalifragilistic thyroid hormone (which helps acne by blocking lipid peroxidation!).

Fluoride, on the other hand, is a toxic mineral that your body does not need any of. There is literally no necessary function of fluoride in the body (at least that we know of). And we know it’s highly toxic.

It blocks iodine from getting into your cells, AND… sneaky bastard… it replaces iodine in your thyroid cells, making them think they’ve got what they need, but really they can’t function well at all without true iodine!

In short, fluoride is a recipe for acne.

So what does this have to do with eggs?

Well, when you get iodine from eating eggs (or dairy, let’s say, which has even higher levels of iodine), this iodine triggers a beneficial purge of fluoride from your system.

This fluoride gets pushed out of your bones, brain, and thyroid gland (and skin, and organs… it goes on), as iodine starts to take its proper place in the body.

This fluoride gets dumped into your lymph system – which is the plumbing for your immune system, basically – and then that lymph flows out to your skin, where it dumps the fluoride to be removed in sebum (skin oil) or dead skin cells.

Problem is, when fluoride gets to your skin, it tends to cause acne, because it’s insanely fast at peroxidizing PUFA – polyunsaturated fats – which are often lurking in your skin already, if you eating a PUFA-rich diet like most of us modern folks.

When fluoride peroxidizes those PUFAs, it forms lipid peroxides, which are perhaps the single greatest direct contributor to acne.

These lipid peroxides can also damage other PUFAs, causing an inflammatory chain reaction that leads to ruptured sebocytes, pus, redness, swelling, and big zits. (Or small zits, if you’re lucky.)

All because of a little iodine in eggs! Or is it?

No, the iodine in eggs is a very good thing for your skin.

It only looks like eggs are triggering acne, when it’s likely the fluoride that’s actually triggering the acne as it leaves your body.

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Egg False Accusation #2: Soy & Factory Farming

The basic idea here is, eggs in their natural, wild state are very healthy for the body.

But factory-farmed eggs, from chickens raised in cages, fed GMO corn and soy, and treated with fluoride-based drugs to kill chicken mites, are toxic.

When you feed chickens soy – even organic soy – the chickens lay eggs with lots of soy isoflavones. These things screw with your hormone levels, especially estrogen. Estrogen needs to be properly balanced with progesterone, or you get acne.

The GMO corn and soy is often laced with pesticides and toxins that bioaccumulate in the chickens, also getting into their eggs (because most of these toxins are fat-soluble).

The fluoride-based drugs given to chickens, which are used to kill chicken mites, bio-concentrate in the eggs, and are known to be toxic.[5] [6]

Also, many chicken feeds contain vegetable oil.[7] If you’ve read much of this blog, you know that I think vegetable oil is one of the main acne triggers. Will some of this PUFA end up in your eggs? I would bet so.

This is kind of like how some vegans demonize all meat eating, because factory farming is an ethical and environmental disaster – conveniently ignoring that many small farmers are using management-intensive rotational grazing and regenerative agriculture to recharge the land and produce environmentally sound meat.

Shall we demonize eggs, too, because of factory chicken farms?

Or shall we recognize that there are different ways to raise chickens, some of which are terrible, and some of which mimic nature and help regenerate severely degraded land, sequester carbon, and provide healthy local food?

I vote for the latter!

Vote with your dollars (and your skin!), and seek out ethically, environmentally raised eggs from local farmers.

Protest factory farms by buying local animal foods!

Egg False Accusation #3: Cooking Fails

Look, I’ll be frank. If you cook the sh** out of your eggs, you’re going to damage some heat-sensitive nutrients. (The same is true of all foods, really!)

I’m not saying never to cook your eggs, but hear me out on this!

Cooking the yolks to well-done – especially scrambling them – oxidizes the delicate cholesterol, and oxidized cholesterol is a major free radical burden on your body, worsening inflammation (not good for acne!).[8] [9] [10] [11]

Again, this doesn’t mean never eat cooked eggs. I’ll eat quiches, scrambled eggs, etc. at social gatherings, no problem. It’s mainly about what you choose to do at home that counts.

At home, I eat most of my eggs raw, in smoothies. Here’s my favorite breakfast smoothie recipe:

  • 12 ounces raw, grass-fed A2 milk
  • 3 raw eggs
  • 1 tablespoon raw unheated honey

Blend to a slight foam and enjoy!

Or sometimes I eat raw eggs straight from the shell, by tapping a little flake off the top of the egg with a spoon, and then sucking out the egg.

Sound gross?

Ha, I don’t blame you! It was for me, at first. The smoothies are a friendlier way to start eating raw eggs. :D)

What kind of eggs to buy?

We’re ideally looking for eggs from pasture-raised chickens that are fed organic, soy-free feed.

The chickens should ideally be rotated to new pasture often, so they can scratch for bugs, a key part of a healthy chicken diet. (Chickens do not want to be vegetarians, unlike some humans! Animal protein is very important for their health.)

The best advice I can give you is to get to know your farmer. That way, you can ask them what they feed to their chickens, and how they raise them.

Or maybe even ask if you can visit the farm and see the chickens yourself!

I’m currently searching for a source of soy-free eggs, but haven’t found one yet.

Meantime, I’m doing the next best thing, which is buying eggs from my neighbor across the street. She free-ranges them and feeds an organic feed mix which does contain soy, but she’s open to changing that – I’m working on her slowly!

That’s the beauty of having a personal relationship with your farmers. They love to hear your thoughts, and are often open to suggestions, in my experience.

Remember that it’s common wisdom right now that soy is a “good” ingredient in chicken feed, because it’s high in protein and minerals. Not many folks know about the soy isoflavones triggering hormone imbalances problem, or about the hexane solvents used on some soy (when the soybeans are pressed for soybean oil).

You can be the one to let your egg farmer know all this, and ask for a soy-free feed!

A dirty secret: orange yolks don’t always mean healthy eggs

This blew me away. I just learned about it while researching this post.

I’ve always thought that the more deep-orange the yolks are, the healthier the eggs are.

However, apparently it’s becoming common practice to add marigold extract to chicken feed, even GMO corn and soy based feed. This stuff makes egg yolks ORANGE, without increasing their nutrient levels at all.

Does this seem sneaky to you?

It does to me! Argh!

So this is another reason to get to know your farmer. Ask for the ingredients list in their chicken feed, and see if it has marigold extract in it. If so, it might be a sort of “fake orange”, rather than signalling the presence of more carotenes and antioxidants.

That doesn’t mean marigold extract is bad in and of itself, just that orange yolks may not mean what you think they mean. You can’t know until you talk to your farmer!

If you’re not buying eggs directly from your farmer, look up the website of the brand of eggs you buy, and look at their FAQ. If you want more info, give ’em a call or shoot ’em an email and ask what’s in their chicken feed.

Your skin will thank you once you find truly pasture-raised, healthy eggs!

So do eggs cause acne or what?

Well, it’s complicated!

One CSF book reader said that normal grocery store eggs gave him acne, so I recommended that he try buying eggs from the farmer’s market.

Boom! Problem solved. No more acne from eating eggs!

Something in the store-bought eggs was giving him acne, and I don’t know what it was. The local farm eggs solved the problem.

And as we’ve seen, there are a LOT of differences between the cheapest feedlot eggs and the pasture-raised, organic, maybe even soy-free eggs from your local small farmer.

And remember that eggs contain iodine and sulfur, which might trigger detoxifications in the body that can lead to short-term acne. That’s a GOOD thing, if annoying sometimes!

So it might look like healthy eggs are giving you acne, when in reality they can be helping your body push out stored acne-causing toxins. In the long run, that will lead to clearer skin!

Do eggs give you acne? Let me know in the comments below!

What about powdered egg white protein?

I know, I get it! It’s tempting to find an alternative to whey protein that won’t cause breakouts.

I’ve heard from several CSF readers that egg white protein doesn’t give them acne, but I still wouldn’t recommend it, for several reasons:

  • The powderizing process oxidizes and damages the protein, and also degrades vitamins
  • Whole eggs build more muscle than egg whites, according to one study[12]
  • Protein powders are manufactured in a lab somewhere, whereas for getting rid of acne, it’s powerful to start shifting your thinking toward buying directly from farmers’ markets. Or at least buying organic whole foods. Processed foods get your skin into all sorts of trouble, and have a high environmental cost as well!

What about egg facials?

Noooooo idea. I don’t mess with stuff like that. I think healing the body’s internal acne triggers is the best way to get rid of acne for good, and topical treatments like this just make that process more difficult!

If you want to get clear skin ASAP, I recommend following the diet and lifestyle guidelines in our book, and weaning yourself off of topical treatments.

Key Takeaways

  • Eggs give you LOADS of skin-clearing nutrients like iodine, vitamin A, sulfur, DHA, AA, and selenium
  • Factory-farmed eggs, and even “organic cage-free” eggs, can be loaded with soy isoflavones, mycotoxins, and fluoride-based anti-parasitic pesticides
  • The healthiest eggs come from pasture-raised chickens, rotated to fresh pasture often, and fed organically grown, soy-free feed
  • If you buy your eggs from a local farmer, they’ll be much less likely to give you acne (and probably will help heal your skin!)
  • Talk to your farmer about what’s in their chicken feed (see if you can get them to switch to soy-free feed)
  • Avoid cooking the crap out of your egg yolks, if possible – there are lots of heat-sensitive nutrients in runny yolks!
  • Eat some eggs raw, in smoothies (see above for recipe), for maximum nutrient absorption and skin benefit
  • Optimizing eggs is only one part of a holistic diet- and lifestyle-based treatment for acne.
  • Most people also need to fix the other diet- and lifestyle-based root causes of acne before they’re totally clear (and that’s what our book is all about!).
Sources (click to expand)

  1. https://drlwilson.com/ARTICLES/SULFUR.htm ^
  2. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/111/2 ^
  3. Chung BY, Park SY, Byun YS, et al. Effect of Different Cooking Methods on Histamine Levels in Selected Foods. Ann Dermatol. 2017;29(6):706-714. (link) ^
  4. Available at: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=69. Accessed November 27, 2018. ^
  5. Huyghe B, Le traon G, Flochlay-sigognault A. Safety of fluralaner oral solution, a novel systemic poultry red mite treatment, for chicken breeders’ reproductive performances. Parasit Vectors. 2017;10(1):540. (link) ^
  6. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Fluralaner. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluralaner. Accessed November 27, 2018. ^
  7. Zaorsky NG, Spratt DE, Blanchard P. Re: Marco Moschini, Emanuele Zaffuto, Pierre I. Karakiewicz, et al. External Beam Radiotherapy Increases the Risk of Bladder Cancer When Compared with Radical Prostatectomy in Patients Affected by Prostate Cancer: A Population-based Analysis. Eur Urol. In press. [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2018.09.034. Eur Urol](https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2018.09.034. Eur Urol). 2018; ^
  8. Yang SC, Chen KH. The oxidation of cholesterol in the yolk of selective traditional Chinese egg products. Poult Sci. 2001;80(3):370-5. (link) ^
  9. Conchillo A, Ansorena D, Astiasarán I. Combined effect of cooking (grilling and roasting) and chilling storage (with and without air) on lipid and cholesterol oxidation in chicken breast. J Food Prot. 2003;66(5):840-6. (link) ^
  10. Savage GP, Dutta PC, Rodriguez-estrada MT. Cholesterol oxides: their occurrence and methods to prevent their generation in foods. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2002;11(1):72-8. (link) ^
  11. Constant J. The role of eggs, margarines and fish oils in the nutritional management of coronary artery disease and strokes. Keio J Med. 2004;53(3):131-6. (link) ^
  12. Van vliet S, Shy EL, Abou sawan S, et al. Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of postexercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;106(6):1401-1412. (link) ^

{ 16 Comments }

  1. Kris says

    Hi Devin,
    Great research, thank you for linking the sources. I’ve suffered with back acne for years. I eat a mostly plant based diet, so I’d call myself a flexitarian (95% plants, 5% grass fed-organic animal). Before that I did mostly Paleo, therefore lots of fresh plants, but still a lot of organic meat/poultry.
    From recent testing, I have low iron stores (ferritin), normal iron (since I suppliment), and low iodine (I now supplement—-boyfriend has shellfish allergy…). I take vitamine A and Magnesium as well.
    I’m game to try anything thats humane and organic even if its not a plant based suppliment, but I would be interested in the Frankin-rice you mentioned since I try to avoid dairy due to an intolerance (causes me inflammation and IgG testing shows markers). If the colostrum is derived from cows or colostrum is from humans, wouldn’t in theory the human one be closer to what we need? Albeit odd to consider!!
    I’ve also looked for a non-bovine ferritin supplement, but it seems I may need to take the bovine one as the plant ones are just more iron (leading to excess). I just want to be humane in my choices, with no added hormones from the cows, etc. With all that said—I’m open to anything—as my skin and other health issues are the number one priority! Any product tips would be greatly appreciated. I use Pure Encapsulations too. 😊 Thank you!

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Kris! Sorry for the epic delay on this, I haven’t checked blog comments in a long time. My fault!

      How low is your ferritin? Did you get liver enzymes checked? It’s quite possible to have low ferritin, but also have an overload of unusable iron stored up in your liver. Taking additional iron supplements on top of that, if that’s the case, isn’t a very good idea. Liver enzymes (and/or GGT) can help point to iron overload in the liver. (See my iron article for more info on tests.)

      What kind of iron are you supplementing with?

      Doubt you’ll find human-sourced colostrum, though it’s an interesting idea! 🙂

      Are you interested in lactoferrin for reducing your iron levels, or for boosting your ferritin? There are definitely other, more effective ways of modulating ferritin, I think (see the iron article linked above for way more info on all the iron stuff, including why I think many people may have an iron overload problem even if ferritin levels don’t show it). I’d target the iron-utilization-boosting nutrients listed in the iron article, personally.

      Also, how much iodine are you taking? What form?

      Finally, have you thought about A2 milk as a skin-safe dairy option, that would give you some lactoferrin in a whole food form?

  2. Donna says

    I actually test low for iron. My Tibc, Total Iron, Iron Saturation, and Ferritin are all low.
    It was recommended for me to take Lactoferrin with an iron supplement to properly increase my iron.
    I’m confused about your article because it makes me second guess my situation. You don’t believe ANYONE is actually low in iron?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Donna! How low are we talking on these numbers?

      I definitely think there are a small number of people who are actually low in iron, but I think it’s probably a lot fewer people than most doctors think. Often, if you have iron dysregulation, excess iron gets stored up in your liver, which doesn’t show up one these blood tests. If you’re lacking in one of the co-factors necessary to use iron properly (vitamin A, molybdenum, vitamin C, copper, ceruloplasmin, vitamin B12, etc.), you can get excess iron deposits in the liver combined with low circulating iron. When you add a plain iron supplement on top of that, without addressing the deficient co-factors, you can worsen the problem. Did you happen to get your liver enzymes and/or GGT tested? That can sometimes indicate excess iron storage in the liver. But keep in mind I have zero clinical experience in all this and just going based on the all the research I’ve read (and my own iron overload problem).

  3. jay,s says

    hi, suffering from acne for 20 years and a rediculolus amount of money spent on “solutions”i tried a newer supplement that’s called acne block that contains lactoferrin,found it on amazon.. it actually was/is one of the only supplements I have tried that actually helped..

    • Devin Mooers says

      Great to hear you got good results from lactoferrin! The science is sound behind why it works, helping to reduce iron overload. Good stuff.

  4. Sara says

    Would eating liver or taking a dessicated liver supplement cause iron overload? I would like to get more vitamin A, but am concerned about the extra iron I would be getting.

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Sara! Wise to be cautious about this. Do you have reason to suspect you have existing iron overload? Curious about that, I’ve suspected that in myself for a while now, and have been avoiding liver for that reason. I’m taking Pure Encapsulations vitamin A instead.

    • Sarah says

      Suggesting vegans/Vegetarians have a greater risk of iron deficiency is incorrect. There are at least as many meat-eaters as vege people deficient in Iron. Meat is not an efficient source of iron for human beings. Cutting out animal products goes along way in clearing up acne.

      • Devin Mooers says

        Hey Sarah! I actually agree with your first point now, but differ in the second. I think many people, vegeterians and meat-eaters, have an iron overload problem. This is pretty new to me, but the research seems sound. Turns out you can have anemia AND iron overload, due to iron getting deposited in your liver, but a lack of nutrients that are required to put iron into hemoglobin, like vitamin C, vitamin A, molybdenum, and copper. I also think the research strongly points to heme iron from meat being an excellent source of iron – much more absorbable than plant iron – but I now think eating too much meat leads to iron overload, because your body can’t shut off absorption from heme iron like it can from plant iron. If you’re curious to learn more, I just posted a huge article on iron and acne two days ago:

        Iron and Acne

        I think this is really an unusual perspective, and the opposite of what most people will tell you! Curious to hear your thoughts! 🙂 (I’m actually eating mostly vegetarian these days, due to trying to reverse my iron overload problem, and, yes, the environmental impact.)

  5. Taylor says

    So if I maintain a Paleo/Whole 30 diet that includes high quality meats and seafoods and I do not eat any of the iron-fortified foods or foods that inhibit lactoferrin – my body should be creating lactoferrin on it’s own in a healthy manner and I likely do not need to supplement it, correct?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Yep, exactly! Historical iron overload can be an issue, less so for menstruating women due to the continual iron dumping outlet. Bloodletting was effective back in the day for many diseases due to iron removal! Men don’t have such a built-in iron removal system (perhaps explaining why men tend to live shorter lives than women – iron buildup!). I’m not 100% sure how effective lactoferrin supplementation is for addressing built-up iron overload. Morley Robbins (gotmag.org) is the guy to read about on all the iron issues.

  6. Christina says

    I’m confused. I was just about to purchase some FCLO for my teen daughter to help her with her acne and now I stumbled across your reply where you state you no longer recommend FCLO! Why the change?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Christina! Sorry about the confusion here – I wish we could keep the same recommendations forever, but our knowledge (and the science, and reader experience, etc.) forces us to change our recommendations now and then, and it’s hard to change everywhere all at once! We changed this recommendation because FCLO is basically pure PUFA (polyunsaturated fat), which is more susceptible to lipid peroxidation than other fats, and this is a major contributor to acne, we now believe (lipid peroxidation). The vitamin A in FCLO tends to be very beneficial, but you can get that vitamin A from eating liver, taking desiccated liver capsules, or taking a vitamin A supplement such as this one by Pure Encapsulations. We now think it’s best to reduce the total body load of PUFA as much as possible, rather than trying to boost omega-3s, for instance. Does this make sense?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Sam! That’s actually a really good idea. We currently do not recommend taking FCLO or cod liver oil – we’ve updated our book but haven’t found the time yet to update our cod liver oil blog post – we’ll do that soon! We recommend taking desiccated liver capsules or eating grass-fed liver regularly, or taking a vitamin A supplement like this one:

      Pure Encapsulations Vitamin A 10,000 IU

      Taking vitamin E is a great PUFA defense strategy when you’re eating out at restaurants or for some reason consume a large amount of PUFA. We’re working on a “PUFA Shield” supplement that incorporates full-spectrum E along with some other lipid peroxidation blockers to make it easier for travelers, folks who eat out a lot, etc. to avoid the worst PUFA effects on acne.

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