Does Dairy Cause Acne? What You Need to Know

We're not going to lie: you might have to choose between ice cream and clear skin.
BY Sarah Lim
| Last updated Aug, 2022
Does Dairy Cause Acne

People with naturally radiant and clear skin are often considered winners of the genetic lottery. Like everyone else, poor skin hygiene or extreme stress might cause a few pimples here and there. But they don’t tend to break out for random reasons. For everyone else, acne might be caused by diet. Most important, does dairy cause acne is the burning question all over.

If you suffer from acne, you may have heard that certain foods—especially dairy—may trigger acne breakouts. But can dairy cause acne? Really?

It turns out that milk consumption can worsen acne. If you’ve never had acne, dairy can make you suddenly acne prevalence, as milk naturally contains growth hormones and anabolic steroids.  

In addition, many dairy cows are treated with growth hormones to increase their milk production, which leads to a lower quality of life for the cows and higher levels of insulin-like growth-factor-1 (IGF-1), which could potentially increase this growth factor in milk. 

IGF-1 in milk has the link to adult acne and excess sebum production, which can also influence acne. 

Here’s what more you need to know about dairy and acne when it comes to your skin and skincare routine!

What the Research Says About Milk and Acne

Research About Milk and Acne

Let’s break down what research says about the question: does dairy induce acne?

According to research, that acne has associated with milk consumption, both in adults and teenagers. As we’ve seen, it’s possible that both the natural and synthetic hormones in milk can lead to inflammation and excess sebum production that causes acne. 

Studies are currently conflicting about whether consuming dairy, in general, can lead to low-grade inflammation throughout the body. However, people who are sensitive, intolerant, or allergic to dairy can see a pro-inflammatory reaction to consuming milk products. In short, some people will react to it, while others will not, just like with any food.

While some studies link specifically milk and acne, others link all dairy products to an increased risk for acne, including yogurt and cheese (and let’s not forget the ice cream!). 

According to one study, women who drank skim milk a day were 44% more likely to have acne. It has associated with milk consumption during menopause

Milk consumption has also been associated with acne in conjunction with other foods such as sugar and unhealthy fats. So, eating all of these foods as a large part of your diet could influence your risk for acne. 

How Dairy Consumption Affects the Skin

How Dairy Consumption Affects the Skin

Consuming dairy products can result in severe acne cysts on your jaw and chin, especially for those who are sensitive to dairy. There’s even been research showing that consuming dairy products can negatively alter your gut microbiome. 

Your gut microbiome is home to trillions of bacteria that play crucial roles in the body. Healthy bacteria in your stomach help support your immune system and aid in the removal of toxins from the body. It also offers protection from harmful organisms that can cause disease. 

It turns out that your microbiome is linked to your skin’s health. And people have been seeing for a long time the microbiome can affect the development of skin problems like dermatitis, acne, and even skin cancer.

Your microbiome thrives on foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha (a fermented tea), sauerkraut, and miso. Fiber-rich foods are also essential for a healthy gut microbiome. Since some dairy products are fermented, such as yogurt and kefir these may be better for your gut than consuming milk alone.

Should You Ditch Dairy?

There’s unquestionably evidence linking milk and acne, but does that mean you should ditch dairy for good? Here are a few things to know:

  • It is possible your doctor can administer a blood test to establish if you are allergic or intolerant to dairy. This may help you make a better intelligent decision about whether to avoid cow’s milk to treat your acne.
  • If you suffer from acne, consider tweaking your diet to include fewer sugars, unhealthy fats, and dairy intake to have an overall more positive effect on your skin.
  • Even if you switch to organic milk and dairy products, remember that they will still contain natural hormones meant for baby cows.
  • Consider focusing more on fresh foods, healthy fats, and lean proteins in your diet and less on sugars and milk intake.
  • Note that everyone’s body is different, and what triggers your acne may not trigger another person’s.

You can always consider eliminating dairy from your diet for a couple of weeks to see if it makes a difference to your skin.

If you’re afraid, you’ll miss cheese and ice cream way too much. There are more dairy alternatives available today than ever before, including plant-based cheeses, ice cream, butter, and milk. It will make you happy to know that this is true. So you won’t have to give up the things you love to have better skin!

Is Dairy Really “Necessary” in Our Diets?

Is Dairy Really “Necessary” in Our Diets

When you’re asking, “Does dairy induce acne?” You may also be wondering if giving up dairy can result in negative consequences for your health. Everyone’s body and skin are different when consuming (and giving up) certain foods.

One of the misconceptions about dairy is that it’s necessary to consume to get enough calcium in our diets. However, many foods contain calcium, including nuts, dark leafy greens, tofu, fortified soymilk, legumes, and seeds. Moreover, all of these foods can provide nutrients and healthy fats to help protect your skin from age-related damage. 

And if you’re a soy lover, you’ll be happy to know that consuming soy may help improve skin thickness, elasticity, and collagen for anti-aging effects. 

Suffering From Acne?

If you’re suffering from acne, asking “Can dairy cause acne?” is a worthy question. Consulting with your doctor, considering tweaking your diet, and changing your skincare products may help you reduce acne to the curb. While you’re here, download our free checklist on the no-no skincare ingredients for all skin types, including those suffering from acne!


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1 Comment

  1. very nice post, i definitely love this website, keep on it


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