Myths of eating for your skin

Unfortunately, eating light-coloured foods like tau fu fah will not help to make your skin fairer. — Filepic

Skin pigmentation is one of the most common skin problems in Singapore.

Despite the increasing availability of information, there is still plenty of misunderstanding among us with regard to skin pigmentation and skin problems in general.

Let us debunk some myths surrounding food and skin health:

Myth: Drinking coffee will darken my skin.

Fact: Coffee in moderation is in fact beneficial to the skin, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

A couple of cups of coffee a day is sufficient.

Drinking more than four cups of coffee can be detrimental as it increases the stress response in our bodies.

Coffee is also a diuretic (increases production of urine), therefore, excessive coffee intake dehydrates us if we do not consume more water to replace our fluids, leading to dry, devitalised-looking skin.

Myth: Eating certain light-coloured foods will result in fair skin.

You may have heard that eating light-coloured foods such as bird’s nest, tofu and soy products, while avoiding dark-coloured foods or beverages, may give you – or even your child during your pregnancy – fair skin.

Fact: Skin colour is genetic and generally cannot be changed, with a few exceptions.

There is also no clinical evidence proving that eating bird’s nest will lighten your skin.

For lightening skin tone, food supplements such as glutathione have been shown to have some effect, but UV (ultraviolet) protection is still the mainstay of keeping your skin fair.

Myth: Eating soy sauce or seafood after surgery will make my scar dark or worsen it after the injury

Fact: While traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) may suggest this, scientific evidence actually proves otherwise.

Protein-rich seafood is well-documented to help wound healing and help form visually better-looking scars.

Soy sauce has no effect on wounds and scars, unless you are allergic to soy.

What truly affects the healing of your scars are surgical factors, UV protection and the after-care of the scars.

Acne is not caused by consuming spicy food, but rather, it can be triggered by the sweating that is caused by eating such food. — AFPAcne is not caused by consuming spicy food, but rather, it can be triggered by the sweating that is caused by eating such food. — AFP

Myth: Eating spicy food will cause acne

Fact: Spicy food does not cause or worsen acne.

But sweating due to spicy food may increase sebaceous secretions due to the response to capsaicin contained in chilli.

This in turn may increase the population of bacteria, which then causes acne.

This can be avoided with good hygiene and meticulous skincare.

The true culprits that cause acne in our diet are dairy and high glycaemic foods.

Myth: Drinking plenty of water is the best way to hydrate the skin

Fact: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is important for your overall health and maintaining a good hydration status, but skin hydration requires more than that.

The best way to keep our skin hydrated is with moisturisers and serums that have been formulated to lock in moisture in the skin.

For those looking for hydration from within, skin booster injections may increase the hydration-storing capacity in our skin that is lost with age.

Myth: Chocolate causes acne

Fact: It is the sugar and dairy in chocolate bars that may increase or worsen acne.

Dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa can actually provide flavonoids – antioxidants that have been shown to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow – without actually affecting our skin.

Of course, everyone’s skin is unique and the most important factor in good skincare is to recognise your skin type, use the right products and cultivate the right skincare habits.

Dr Kwan Yuan Dong is a general practitioner in Singapore. For more information, email The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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