Milk and Acne | Does Milk Causes Acne & Breakouts?

If you’re a milk or dairy lover and have been experiencing acne breakouts for the longest time, this article is for you. Research has shown a correlation between milk consumption and the incidence of acne. Yet, some studies suggest that more research is necessary to make firm conclusions. There is no concrete evidence today to suggest that dairy directly causes acne. However, we will dive in to examine the possible link between dairy and acne and offer possible solutions for all you dairy lovers out there!

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According to studies, if you drink one glass of milk or more on a daily basis, you are more likely to experience acne compared to others who drank two to six glasses per week. Additionally, the likelihood of acne is higher if you are within the age range of 7 to 30.

Skim milk, surprisingly, induced more breakouts compared to whole milk. It is therefore concluded that fat content in milk is not the real culprit resulting in breakouts.

Artificial Hormones

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Cows are mostly treated with a synthetic hormone known as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase milk production. Increased levels of IGF-1 stimulates milk productions. Hence speculating higher levels of IGF-1 found in milk from rBGH-treated cows. This may aggravate acne as humans may absorb small amounts of additional IGF-1 from rBGH-treated cows.

IGF-1 Growth Factor

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Studies have shown that insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels are higher in people with acne. IGF-1 is a hormone in the bloodstream that peaks during adolescence where acne is usually at its worst this period. IGF-1 increase sebum production resulting in pores blockage leading to acne. Milk naturally contains IGF-1 and other hormones that trigger breakouts. On the other hand, skim milk has a higher IGF-1 level than whole milk.

Milk Protein

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Likewise, skim milk has a higher milk protein content as whey proteins are added for a creamier consistency. Milk consists of two main proteins, mainly whey and casein. Whey proteins increase blood insulin levels. Excessive insulin in your bloodstream will cause your oil glands to produce more oil thus increasing your risks of acne. On the other hand, casein proteins increase IGF-1 hormone in your bloodstream leading to acne. 

Dairy Allergy

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Dairy allergy is different from lactose intolerance. A dairy allergy occurs when your immune system overreacts or rejects milk proteins. Its symptom ranges from rashes, hives and acne to something more threatening such as wheezing and anaphylactic shock. Therefore, your acne breakouts could reflect dairy allergies reactions. However, if you experience serious dairy allergies reactions, it is advisable to visit a doctor and discontinue dairy consumption immediately.


You may further wonder whether other dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt are prone to breakouts. Research has shown that there is a lack of relationship between yoghurt or cheese and acne. IGF-1 levels and other acne-causing hormones are reduced during the fermentation process. However, if you are eating the wrong kind of yoghurt, breakouts may be inevitable. Always opt for plain Greek yoghurt instead of nonfat, fat-free or flavoured yoghurt. This is because companies substitute additional sweetened flavourings and toppings to non-fat yoghurt. Undeniably, sugar is a culprit to your breakouts.

No-Dairy Philosophy

Many may disagree with the above findings as not everyone who drinks milk experiences breakouts. Everyone is different and your body reacts differently. Dermatologists introduce the no-dairy philosophy where you eliminate milk and dairy products from your diets. Stick to the no-dairy diet for a few months to observe any improvement to your skin. If your skin experiences a noticeable change for the better, milk is a trigger to your breakouts.

Milk Alternatives

With milk commonly used in many recipes, we understand your struggles in eliminating milk from your diet. Therefore, we will look at several substitutes for milk alternatives that are better for your skin. Quality matters when it comes to milk alternatives. Milk alternatives with many added ingredients and sugar will trigger hormonal release resulting in worsening of acne. Therefore, always opt for sugar-free, natural milk with the least added ingredients possible. 

Coconut Milk

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Coconut Milk is a wonderful alternative to dairy milk. It has many skin-clearing nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and selenium. It is low in sugar and inflammation-causing omega-6 fatty acids and is a greater source of high-quality saturated fats. Coconut oil benefits beyond just your skin, it boosts your immune system, healthy hair as well as gastrointestinal health. Additionally, it helps in weight loss and prevents anaemia and heart disease. Lastly, it is one of the safest, most digestible plants and it is both gluten-free and soy-free!

Macadamia Milk

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Similarly, macadamia milk is very safe and easy to digest. It is very low in inflammation-causing omega-6 fatty acids and low in carbohydrates that are less likely to trigger inflammatory or hormonal acne. Macadamia milk further contains essential nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium and many vitamins. It contains healthy monosaturated fats that help in reducing weight loss, risk of heart disease, inflammation and insulin resistance. The best part about macadamia milk is its texture, making hot beverages extra creamy! 

Almond Milk

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Almond milk is high in Vitamin D and skin-clearing antioxidant such as vitamin E. Unsweetened almond milk is high in healthy fats and low in sugar, regulating blood sugar and reducing the risk of heart disease. However, as compared to other milk alternatives, almond milk is relatively higher in omega-6 fatty acids which can potentially trigger inflammatory acne. Also, it may not be safe for sensitivities and intolerances to almonds as it has been known to have commonly attributed to digestive issues.

Cashew Milk

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Similarly, cashew milk is low in inflammation-causing omega-6 fatty acids, carbohydrates and vitamin B12, which are less likely to trigger inflammatory or hormonal acne. Cashew milk also boosts immunity, heart and eye health as well as regulating blood sugar. However, cashew milk is high in phytic acid which deters the body from absorbing nutrients. The high calcium content of cashew milk further makes it harder for the body to absorb zinc. Lastly, cashew milk is not safe for sensitivities and intolerances to nuts. It can possibly result in digestive issues, allergies or inflammation resulting in acne.


Not all milk alternatives are better for your skin or health. It is also paramount to ward away milk that will worsen your skin condition. Check out the ingredient list and do research before swapping your milk! Click here to find out what milk alternatives you should avoid.

If you’re in need of facial solutions in treating the aftermath of breakouts from overconsumption of milk, you’re at the right place! At My Cozy Room, we celebrate healthy skin and provide skincare solutions for various skin types. Click here to find out the best facial for your skin. We highly specialise in gentle yet thorough extraction with minimal pain and redness. Having many prestige accolades under our belt and titled as the “Best Extraction Facial” in Singapore, be assured your skin will be in safe hands! Check here to find out more about us!

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