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Do dairy products lead to acne? We find out.

Is it a myth or is there any scientific evidence to prove that dairy products cause acne?

We all have heard at least once in our life that dairy products are bad for our skin. But is dairy reallybad for your skin? Or is it just another myth floating around the internet? If you are struggling with acne or inflamed skin, it is time to cut back on dairy products.

Why do dairy products cause acne?

If you have acne-prone skin, your dermatologist must have warned you to stay away from dairy products like milk and cheese. This is because the hormones in milk can react with the testosterone in your body to increase the production of sebum. When your sebaceous gland produces extreme amounts of oil, it leads to oily skin and clogged pores. Clogged pores are the main cause of acne breakouts. Additionally, dairy products may also stimulate the production of other hormones and cell signaling, particularly inflammatory signals, in the body. This leads to redness and inflammation.

What does the research say?

There are multiple studies that link dairy consumption with acne breakouts.

  • According to research conducted in 2014, diet has a direct impact on your skin. Research has shown that acne can be aggravated by dairy. Some studies have noted a stronger connection with skim milk versus other types of dairy.
  • The same research also suggests that if the cows are treated with artificial hormones to boost milk production, milk quality is affected. These hormones in the milk can disrupt the balance of your hormones and lead to acne breakouts.
  • According to another theory, dairy products, when combined with the high levels of refined foods and processed sugars in the Western diet, disrupt your insulin levels and make your skin more prone to acne.
  • Cow’s milk is made up of two proteins—whey protein and casein protein. When we digest these proteins, they release a hormone similar to insulin, called IGF-1. A study conducted in 2011 concluded that this hormone is known to trigger acne breakouts.
  • Lactose intolerance is another reason for acne breakouts caused by the consumption of dairy products. Lactose is the natural sugar present in milk. After infancy, it becomes hard for us to digest lactose. Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. Lactose intolerance or lactose sensitivity could be responsible for your acne breakouts.
  • While some researchers believe that yogurt doesn’t cause acne breakouts, a meta-analysis published in 2018 concluded that all dairy products—including yogurt and cheese—were associated with an increased likelihood of acne.
  • An analysis was conducted in 2018 to examine the link between dairy intake and acne among 78,529 children, adolescents and young adults. In this analysis, the researchers explored the link between acne and dietary intake of:
  • different types of dairy products, including milk, yogurt and cheese
  • dairy subgroups, such as full fat, low fat, skim and whole milk
  • dairy at various amounts and frequencies

The analysis concluded that consumption of dairy products was associated with a higher likelihood of acne in people aged 7–30 years. Researchers also stated that acne was more likely to occur in people who consumed low fat and skim milk.

Are there any alternatives to dairy products?

Now that we have established that dairy products are one of the worst triggers for acne, here are some alternatives to help you clear your skin:

Coconut milk

Organic and cold-pressed coconut milk with no added sugar is a great alternative to cow’s milk. The fat in coconut milk is a great way to eliminate harmful bacteria and lower inflammation. This makes it a great option for people with acne-prone skin.

Almond milk

If dairy products make you breakout, you should switch to almond milk. This delicious milk is packed with skin-friendly nutrients like vitamin E, healthy fats and prebiotics.

Macadamia milk

It is a highly safe choice for people with acne-prone skin. Macadamia milk, just like macadamia nuts, has low levels of carbohydrates, making them easily digestible and less likely to trigger any form of hormonal or inflammatory acne.To learn how to treat acne caused by dairy consumption, you can speak to us on  +971 4 346 6641, email on, or schedule an appointment here.

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