Does Milk Cause Acne?
Posted By: Lindsay Schroeder Posted In: nutrition Date Posted: February 1st, 2013 Comments: 4
milk and acne

It has been of huge debate whether ingesting milk actually does trigger acne to appear or become worse. It has been stated before that you are what you eat and what you take into your body will show through to your skin. We constantly recommend a diet high in organic fruits and vegetables, a moderate amount of lean proteins like chicken and fish, and a healthy amount of whole grains and nuts. But what do we recommend when it comes to dairy, especially milk? Well that is where it gets a bit tricky. There has been much proof that using milk as a topical treatment on your face, like in a face mask for example, is beneficial for your skin but what about when it comes to regularly drinking a big glass of cold milk?

What Research Shows

Scientists have found a link between milk drinkers and acne – One specific study written about in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that boys in the teenage years that drank milk regularly had the worst cases of acne. Other studies that include females have found the same results.  Dairy products like cottage cheese and chocolate milk also triggered acne but regular cheeses and yogurts were not horrible triggers like milk.

What in Milk Causes Acne?

Vitamin D was eliminated from the equation since those who spend time outdoors don’t get acne from enjoying the sun (from which Vitamin D is emitted) in moderation. Nor do those who take Vitamin D supplements have breakouts. Studies have shown that skim milk can often cause worse breakouts than whole milk or reduced-fat milk so the fat content within milk is not a trigger. Research suggests that the cause of breakouts for milk drinkers seems to be the hormones that are in milk. The specific hormone in milk that seems to trigger acne breakouts is androgen hormones.

A certain type of androgen hormones we are familiar with is testosterone. Testosterone is heavily linked to causing acne. Men and women both have testosterone in their bodies, but women at a much smaller scale. DHT (di-hydrotestosterone) is created from testosterone through a complex chain of events. DHT has been found to awaken the sebaceous glands, causing more oil to be released to the surface of the skin, causing pores to be clogged with this excess oil and acne-causing bacteria, thus creating acne.

Many dairy farmers have also been found to inject added hormones to the cows to get them produce more milk for them to sell. These hormones cause the milk to become more potent to acne formation. This high level of hormone in milk is known as IGF-1, which is a growth hormone that can react negatively in teenagers since their IGF-1 climaxes during these adolescent years.

Others believe that all of this is a myth. The Dairy Council said the findings were “skewed” while some doctors don’t think there is enough evidence to prove this theory.

What Can You Do?

Regardless if you drink milk in moderation or in excess, the best milk to drink is organic milk. Organic milk is free of added hormones, chemicals, and pesticides so you will be healthier overall and will more than likely have clearer skin due to being healthier. Luckily, organic prices have gone down since there is a higher demand for organic food and drink in general. You should not have a difficult time finding organic milk for just a slightly higher price than regular milk and even if you have to spend $2 more, the benefits to your health are worth it.  It’s important to follow a healthy diet in general to feel and look your best. Remember, start with taking care of your body from within and it will exude out.

About the Author

Lindsay Schroeder


Lindsay Schroeder, professional makeup artist and skincare guru, is the writer of all the content on Acne Skin Site. She has personally dealt with acne all throughout her 20’s and knows firsthand what anyone suffering with acne is going through. She has worked with thousands of clients that suffer with acne and has been able to encourage and educate them on how to get their skin on the road to recovery.

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Let the discussion begin!

  • Kristen - February 18, 2013 at 3:39 am - Reply

    I am a strong believer in this! I actually figured this out myself (I had never heard of this theory before). I love drinking milk, but after a while I started to notice a pattern. Anytime I consumed a large amount of milk, the days following would result in a bad breakout. I tried cutting milk out of my diet, and my skin has never looked better!

    If you are acne prone, try giving up milk for a month and see the results for yourself!!

  • Lindsey - March 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    I have suffered with acne since I was about 10 years old. I’m 26 now and have tried every acne treatment you can think of, including a round of Accutane when I was 14. I wish I would’ve known then what I know now- acne can be cured almost entirely through DIET. NO harmful drugs with dangerous side effects needed!

    If you have acne and you are willing to give the natural approach a try, go on a raw food diet. Seriously, it works! Just try it for a few weeks, I know it’s hard, but just try it and see what happens. My skin cleared up entirely! If you can’t go completely raw, try to eat as many vegetables and fruits as possible (get a juicer) and definitely ELIMINATE any form of dairy products, white and artificial sugar, and try to eat as few grains/carbohydrates as possible. Go organic if you’re eating meat, and have smaller portions.

    I know how shameful it feels to have acne. You don’t want to go out of the house, you’re constantly wondering if people are staring at your skin, you don’t have confidence and feel like crap! Just please give raw foods a try, for yourself! I don’t want anyone to have acne or have to take antibiotics or accutane to cure it… just learn from my experiences. My skin is glowing and nearly flawless now!

    • Jane - May 10, 2013 at 8:07 am - Reply

      Is that true just by dieting I can get flawless skin? FYI I’m an obese girl and just 22 this year.. Thanks for your advice, it meant a lot Lindsey. Ive tried so many products and my skin got worst every single day. Day by day.

  • drew - August 21, 2014 at 1:23 am - Reply

    If milk has the hormone factor, how come cheese does not? And why is skim milk worse than regular milk?

  • Leave a Reply

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