Does Drinking Milk Cause Acne? Dairy Free Options for Cow’s Milk

We are led to believe that cow’s milk is beneficial to our health but does drinking milk actually cause acne?

does milk cause acne

If you are breaking out or experiencing hormonal acne and can not figure out why, it may be from the milk you are drinking due to dairy and sugar.

This study confirms that dairy does indeed contribute to breakouts in people who consume either milk or other dairy containing products such as cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, and butter.

milk hormones and acne

There are a few different reasons why someone may react negatively to dairy products as they are known to give people who consume it side effects from the sugar content, hormone content, and possible skin inflammation from the high number impurities that it contains.

Lactose is sugar

Most people think of sugar as either table sugar (sucrose) or fruit sugar (fructose) but forget that dairy sugar (lactose) is also a type of sugar that can have negative effects on our body including our skin.


Lactose causes our bodies to produce more insulin which has been attributed to causing pimples because of the hormonal response it causes in our body. The increase in insulin raises the male sex hormones named “androgens” which in turn causes excess sebum (oil) production in our glands helping lead to unwanted blemishes.

Please also do not get fooled by the “low fat” scam that is being perpetrated as well. The lactose content in dairy is no different when purchased as skim or in the fat free variety, in fact by getting a type that does not contain any fat may actually be bad for our health as fat has valuable functions in our body.

Hormonal issues

hormonal acne dairy

We not only encounter hormonal issues because of the insulin spike but also because there are various hormones that we are unknowingly consuming that have a multitude of side effects including increased acne.

Of the many types of hormones found in dairy a few of them include progesterone, androstenedione, and testosterone. The male androgen hormones such as androstenedione and testosterone increase sebum production as mentioned in the above paragraph which leads to oily skin that is prone to acne infections.

Because of the increased androgen levels from both our insulin response and from receiving the hormones themselves we obviously have multiple reasons to be worried about the negative hormonal acne that ensues.

Is It Safe to Drink?

There are so many different impurities in cow’s milk that it is believed to stress our bodies causing inflammation which can put our skin at risk once again. Blood and feces are found at low levels in it at times which may or may not have an adverse reaction on our bodies. It is pasteurized which does a good job of making it┬ámuch healthier to drink, whether or not it makes it safe 100% I am not sure.

Drinking dairy can be enjoyable thing that can be hard to let go of. People with acne are often times very motivated to relieve themselves of their blemishes and have no problem giving it up for that purpose.

With studies showing that it can be an enflaming factor in acne break outs it is a good idea to avoid milk products to see if they are the aggravating factor in your diet regime.

can drinking milk cause acne

If you would like to keep milk in your diet I would suggest switching to unsweetened coconut milk , almond milk, or soy milk as it does not contain dairy or sugar and tastes much better in my opinion!