Does Dairy Cause Acne? Here's The Truth & My Experience

banish does dairy cause acne

Addressing acne requires this one realization: acne itself is not the problem but rather it’s a symptom to something that does not seem to work well inside our body.

We may have grew up with messages on how dairy can be beneficial for our health as it gives us the calcium that we need to develop strong bones and prevent osteoporosis.  Hence, we are confused about how it has become the cause of our acne developing on our face or skin.

We are often left with confusion on how dairy causes acne, how cutting out dairy can help reduce acne.  Here I'll explain how Dairy causes acne, and how you can test whether dairy causes acne for you so you can make the decision to eliminate it from your diet or not. 


There are evidence-based studies which showed or prove that dairy affects or irritates acne.  Some studies show that dairy cows are treated with artificial hormones affecting their milk their supply and these artificial hormones are said to throw your hormones off balance as you consume milk or any dairy products, hence triggering your acne. 

There’s a theory stating that the growth hormones which are incorporated in the milk naturally aggravate your acne while another theory claims that the milk products disrupt insulin levels and make your skin more prone to acne when they are combined with high levels of refined foods and processed sugars.

There are also many studies that found a link between milk or dairy products and acne severity among teenagers while there are two studies that found that young adults who regularly consume milk or ice cream are four times more likely to suffer from this skin condition. Milk or dairy products are known to increase one’s insulin levels (which are independent of its effects on the blood sugar) and may worsen his/her acne severity.

Cows produce their milk to feed their baby calves and help them grow. These proteins – whey and casein—which are found in milk, stimulate growth and hormones both in calves and in us when we consume milk. 

While digesting these proteins, a hormone that’s similar to insulin (known as IGF-1) is being released. This  IGF-1 is known to trigger any acne breakouts. The hormones found in milk can sometimes confuse your body and signal breakouts as they interact with your own hormones.

An acne breakout can occur to most people who are lactose-intolerant. Lactose is a natural sugar that is present in the milk we are consuming. Lactose intolerance/sensitivity or allergic reaction can be the number one cause or reason why one may be breaking out. This may be one sign that it’s possible that  dairy causes acne



 You may have heard someone say, “I quit dairy” as a response to how they get flawless and acne-free skin. But does cutting out dairy for acne really help? If so, how? There’s this debatable question on whether or not giving up dairy or cutting it off clears hormonal acne breakouts.

Doing extensive research on how cutting out dairy for acne helps, especially when you see what consuming dairy does to your skin. Yes, we get skeptical of this idea that dairy should be cut off from our diet if what we want is an acne-free skin.

Milk, especially cow’s milk, has a high demand. We may not know it, but we easily get milk from cows through artificial cow hormones – cows ingest these artificial hormones so that they can easily produce milk. The disgusting part about it? These hormones are excreted from cow's milk.

What if you buy organic dairy? ALL dairy contains hormones. 

Even organic, raw and growth-hormone-free milk contains hormones. There can be 60 different types of hormones in an average cup of milk. These hormones help a calf (i.e) to develop and grow (calves put on 70-400+ lbs in their first year of life).
Since milk contains DHT precursors (a hormone that signals our skin cells to produce more sebum) while our skin glands contain enzymes needed to convert their precursors to actual DHT, this means more sebum build up in our pores.

Admit it or not, we’ve been drinking these artificial cow hormones which can possibly spread around and clog our pores, hence triggering acne breakouts. It’s not the dairy or milk itself which triggers the acne but rather the hormones stuffed into it. There are some that argue that milk or dairy is not the one that’s overstimulating the oil glands and causing its overproduction but the hormones produced by cows. This all depends on a person’s acne trigger. 

Cutting out dairy for acne helps by improving your skin texture and tone as well as skin conditions like acne and rosacea, though it takes about two to three weeks to see the difference. cutting out or removing dairy from your diet can possibly help clear acne and give your skin a fresh glow.

Cutting out dairy for acne can be a difficult thing to do, but who knows? It may work out for some of us, though again, it takes time.

Dairy Could Cause Acne By Upsetting The Digestive System

Dairy can be a common digestive ailment for many people.  65% of the population are actually lactose intolerant. That means that our bodies are unable to break down the lactose present in all milk leading to digestion issues. A milk allergy is also a common food allergy.  If you have an unknown milk allergy, this could also trigger acne too. 


At some point, we have gotten sick and tired of this advice: “To clear your acne, quit dairy”. We ask ourselves,  “How is it possible for me to quit dairy when it’s doing good for my body, especially drinking milk?” Well, it’s all up to our discretion.  Not all of us experience acne breakouts anyway from having dairy. Again, who knows? Eliminating dairy may help you achieve clear skin.

If you want to see if dairy is causing your acne, most people suggest eliminating it completely up to 30 days and take notice if there are any significant changes to your skin and acne.

Dairy can be very addicting and hard to quit – for one, it helps build calcium which is responsible for our strong bones. Dairy also links up to these feel-good receptors in your brain. 

Should you wish to completely  eliminate dairy from your diet to help with your acne, here’s a list of possible substitutes for dairy: 


There are tons of dairy free milk alternatives available in most grocery stores.  If sugar is an issue for your acne, you may want to go for the unsweetened varieties. 

  • Unsweetened Cashew Milk (Forager)
  • Silk Vanilla Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • Soy Milk
  • Coconut Milk ( unsweetened variety ) 
  • Oat Milk 


1) So Delicious Dairy Free Cheddar Jack Shreds

2) Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds

3) Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheddar

4) Teese Vegan Cheddar Cheese

5) Follow Your Heart Shredded Parmesan Alternative (Vegan)


1) Treeline Cracked Pepper Artisanal Aged Nut Cheese

2) Miyoko's Fresh Vegan Mozz


1) Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread

2) Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks

3) Melt Organic Vegan Butter Sticks

4) Blue Bonnet Lactose-Free Sticks



1) Ben and Jerry’s Non-Dairy Chocolate Fudge Brownie

2) So Delicious Dairy Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl

3) NadaMoo! Cookies & Crème



  • Kite Hill Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt (Strawberry Banana tubes)
  • Good Karma Dairy Free Yogurt
  • Silk Almond Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative
  •  Daiya Greek Yogurt Alternative
  • So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt. 
  • GT’s CocoYo Pure Living Coconut Yogurt



1) Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

2) Daiya Cream Cheeze

3) Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread

4) Homemade cream cheese


Before you go on a dairy-free diet or eliminate dairy from it just to help clear your skin of acne, take note of these possible things that can happen:

1) weaker bones

2) your blood pressure

3) weight changes 

4) clear skin

5) lactose intolerance gets worse and more.

Or you can even ask yourselves first and consider, “What really triggers my acne? Is it dairy? Or is it something else?” There are pros and cons of cutting out dairy from your diet.


Cutting out dairy or eliminating dairy from the diet may or may not work for everyone as each has his or her own way of helping their acne, or dairy may not always be the one causing or triggering the acne. 

    Reading next

    skincare for acne and sensitive skin
    essential oil bottles for acne prone skin

    Leave a comment

    All comments are moderated before being published.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.