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What Could Be Causing Acne Breakouts On Your Cheeks?


Recently one of our fabulous readers sent me an email:

Hi Natasha,

My personal acne issues are on my cheeks. They aren’t red, more flesh colored and can’t be seen in a picture but awful in person. under the skin! I can pop them, but most are without a visible head. They always leave a mark if I cave and squeeze them. What can I do? I also have  ton of these on my chin too. I haven’t had my period in a while. I usually get it once every 8 months. Low progesterone! Low estrogens.

Thank you so much for your time. I eat super healthy, my diet for the last 6 months has been autoimmune paleo.

-Katy B

Katy’s acne:

Katy pretty much has two different acne/skin conditions going on at once. She’s got the pimples on her cheeks, and the hormonal pimples on her chin. In today’s blog post I want to focus on the pimples on her cheeks, and another time I can do a blog post on suggestions for hormonal acne.

Find out why you are getting breakouts and pimples on your cheeks and what to do with your diet to get rid of them.

What’s causing the acne & pimples on Katy’s cheeks?

There’s a few things that stood out from Katy’s email:

  • The pimples are on her cheeks
  • The pimple aren’t red, inflamed, or come to a head; but instead they are deep (and I presume they can settle in her skin for a while)
  • She’s on an autoimmune paleo diet

Most people would say breakouts and pimples on the cheeks are caused by things coming into contact with your skin (like mobile phones, pillow cases, hands, etc). Our cheeks are the one part of our face that is touched most frequently. But, in Katy’s case because these pimple are so deep and not inflamed or red, I have a feeling it’s coming from something internally, not externally. (And by the way, how you’d know if your acne is caused from something touching your face like pillow cases, phones, or hands; you would have more breakouts and acne on one side of your face than the other because most people hold their phone to one ear, touch their face with one hand, and sleep on one special side).

Now back to Katy. She mentioned she’s on a paleo diet, which is a healthy diet, and a diet that can be great for your skin. But the problem many people encounter with the paleo diet is issues digesting some of the food; fats and proteins in particular.

Not everyone has the most robust digestion, and I’ve seen over and over again similar cases to a Katy’s of people getting deeply clogged pimples on  their cheeks that’s connected to weak digestion.

My suggestion to Katy is to look into your digestion:

  • Do you digest proteins or fats easily?
  • Does your body ever react to a high fat meal (like getting constipated, feeling like digestion has slowed down considerably, or the reverse, does a high fat meal cause you to have loose stools or diarrhea?)
  • Does your body digest all proteins equally? Some people have a much easier time digesting fish and poultry, but difficulty digesting pork or red meats. Do you ever notice a difference digesting different animal foods?
  • What about cooking with animal fats, does this ever cause digestive issues?
  • Some people on paleo diet cook with oil, butter, and/or ghee – do you use any of these oils/fats to cook with? If you do, I suggest doing an elimination diet where you take a break from one at time for a couple of weeks to see if this helps. Many times oils and fats cooked under high temperatures can be more difficult to digest and can cause acne and breakouts, especially on your cheeks (and your back too).

Is the health of your skin connected to your digestion?

Yes! Absolutely!

That’s why you see many people doing juice fasting look so good and have glowing skin – it’s because their body isn’t burdened by digesting food, and suddenly their skin starts to heal and clear up.

Remember, you don’t only digest and eliminate waste through your digestive tract, but also through your breath, skin, and sweat. If your bowels are overburdened and can’t eliminate waste and toxins efficiently, then things can start to get backed up, clogged up, and more waste starts being eliminated through your skin (which can clog your pores).

Also, if foods you’re eating are in any way irritating your body or not being digested properly, there will be an automatic inflammatory response, which will also come out in your skin.

One way or another, your skin is a mirror to what is going on inside. Healthy digestion, healthy skin. Congested digestion, congested skin.

Suggestions on how to improve digestion for clear skin:

  • Increase vegetables and fruit in your diet
  • Have a variety of both cooked and raw vegetables
  • Drink more water
  • Eat healthy fats (healthy fats are great lubricants for your digestive system, but as I stated above – for some of you, if you eat too much, or certain healthy fats you can’t digest very well, it will cause pimples and breakouts. If you suspect some of the healthy fats in your diet could be causing breakouts and acne, it’s important to figure out which ones, and what quantity your body can tolerate without having any skin issues).
  • Eat fermented and probiotic-rich foods
  • Eat blended or puréed foods (smoothies, pureed soups, homemade dips)
  • Exercise every day
  • Walk more, don’t sit so much
  • Reduce stress and worry
  • Take warm baths
  • Massage
  • Deep breathing, meditation, yoga

Have you noticed a connection between your digestion and acne? If so, tell us about it (post in the comments below).

About the Author
Hi, I’m Natasha St. Michael, Founder of Inspire Beauty. I’m also a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Natural Health Educator accredited by the Institute For Integrative Nutrition. I’m obsessed with skin care and self-care. I’m 47 years old, struggled with adult acne until I was 30, and now I’m all about preserving the youthfulness of my skin (and sharing all my tips and tricks). If you have a question about a product or need a recommendation, feel free to contact me anytime.


This blog is for information purposes only. The content is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Should you have a medical or dermatological problem, please consult with your physician. None of the information or recommendations on this website should be interpreted as medical advice.

All product reviews, recommendations, and references are based on the author’s personal experience and impressions using the products. All views and opinions are the author’s own. 

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0 Responses

  1. Natasha,
    Thank you so much for answering my question! Wow does your answer make sense. I was eating boatloads of coconut oil and tallow. The last week or so I’ve been using a little more olive oil instead, and taking milk thistle and it’s helping. I see a noticeable change! Thanks again for addressing my email!

  2. I have lots of acne on my cheeks, but like Katy’s they are under the skin. I am young, and I have tried tons of different face cleaners and I am eating more fruits and veggies. Any other suggestions? Also do you have any suggestions to stopping chocolate addiction because I love chocolate and it’s hard not to eat it.

    1. Chocolate could very well be what’s causing it! (also try to completely avoid all milk and dairy). If you want clear skin, avoid the chocolate. When you crave it, remind yourself what it is doing to your skin. It’s not worth it!

  3. Hi Natasha,

    Wt abt taking zinc suppliments daily for clearing acne? Did u ever use it for clearing your acne?

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