Can Energy Drinks Make You Break Out?

When you need a boost, you may reach for an energy drink to quickly increase your level of alertness. In the U.S., energy drinks are one of the most popular caffeinated beverages, with over 40% of people ages 30 to 49 reporting that they consume them, and a third of people ages 18 to 29 saying that they also partake (per Modern Gentleman). But just because they're popular doesn't mean that they're the best choice — especially if you have acne.

Of course, no one enjoys waking up with a massive zit on their forehead, or struggling with breakouts that just don't seem to ever go away. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, an estimated 50 million people are affected by some form of acne, with 85% of teens and young adults ages 12 to 24 experiencing breakouts. If you have acne, you're probably in search of solutions to clear your skin, but you're probably not looking at the things that could make your acne worse. If you didn't already know, the food and beverages you consume can affect your complexion, so being informed about the ingredients in your diet is the first step to making choices that won't work against your skin. Here's what you need to know about how energy drinks can provoke breakouts.

Know the ingredients

Energy drinks contain several ingredients that can cause breakouts. Most options, including name brands like Rockstar, Monster, and Red Bull, contain significant amounts of caffeine and sugar (per HealthLinkBC). It's not surprising that energy drinks are usually sold in stores next to sports drinks and sodas, as they contain many of the same ingredients. WebMD reports that sodas and sugary beverages have high glycemic index ratings, which means the sugar rapidly enters your bloodstream and raises blood sugar levels. Insulin is the hormone that breaks down sugar in the body, and when your body quickly produces increased insulin to combat the sudden influx of sugar from energy drinks, additional hormones that produce oil in your pores also increase in production. This escalated oil production can lead to breakouts. Assessing the sugar content, including added sugars, of energy drinks can help you determine if an energy boost is worth the oily skin.

Besides sugar, energy drinks often contain B vitamins, which can sometimes irritate the skin and increase acne (via Eat This, Not That!) Even people without acne can experience adult breakouts when they consume B vitamins. When considering an energy drink, look at the ingredients to see if they contain vitamins B6 and B12, both of which can cause an acne flare-up. According to WebMD, the reason why B vitamins (vitamin B12 in particular) promote acne is because they negatively interact with a bacteria on your skin called Propionibacterium, which can affect acne formation.

Dehydration and other dangers

In addition to containing acne-causing ingredients, energy drinks can pose more serious health risks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One dangerous side effect of energy drinks is dehydration, which is believed to be linked to increased urination from high caffeine consumption (via Healthline). Energy drinks containing taurine, a common ingredient used to enhance athletic performance, can double the dehydration since taurine has similar diuretic effects to caffeine. This dehydration can also cause your skin to become dry, leading to potential acne breakouts. When consuming energy drinks, it's important to drink a lot of water. Be mindful of how much caffeine you are putting into your body, and be on the lookout for signs of dehydration. The recommended limit of caffeine for an adult is 400mg per day (per HealthLinkBC), and it can be dangerous if you exceed this amount.

While dehydration is one cause of concern with energy drinks, it's not the only one. According to the CDC, thousands of people go to the emergency room because of side effects from energy drinks every year. Other reasons for energy drink-related ER visits include heart issues like heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and even heart failure. Anxiety, shortness of breath, and feeling excessively jittery are also reasons that cause people to seek medical attention as a result of energy drinks. Don't combine energy drinks with other caffeinated beverages like coffee, green tea, and soda, and always be aware of potential side effects.