Milk and Acne: Does Milk Cause Acne?

Milk and Acne: Does Milk Cause Acne?

Milk and Acne

Milk and dairy products contain growth hormones and inflammatory substances that clog your pores and cause acne.

Have you heard about this yet?

If you eat milk, cheese, ice cream, or any other kind of dairy, and you have acne, this blog post could be the most important thing you read all week.

In fact – and I’m not exaggerating here – removing milk and dairy products from your diet is probably the absolute, honest-to-goodness most effective thing you can do to clear up your skin.

“Hold on a minute!” you might ask.

Aren’t milk and other dairy products good for the body, providing essential vitamins and minerals and calcium?

Even the government recommends that we consume low-fat dairy products on a daily basis, right?

Well, without getting into the politics of the powerful dairy lobby and the origin of government nutritional recommendations, the truth is that processed milk and dairy products do more harm than good to your body in general.

And this is especially true for your skin.

Want to listen instead of reading? Check out our podcast episode about milk and acne:

> Subscribe to the CSF podcast on iTunes!

Why is Milk Bad for Your Acne?

Milk causes acne because…

  • There is abundance of a hormone called IGF-1 in milk, which is really good for baby cows, but not for you. IGF-1 is a growth hormone. It makes baby cows grow up big and strong, but in humans, it tends to make your acne grow big instead. IGF-1 is one of several factors that cause inflammation in humans, and which eventually lead to acne (and the ugly redness and swelling that makes acne so annoying).
  • Milk and dairy products cause an insulin spike in humans that cause the liver to produce even more IGF-1, leading to even more acne.
  • Dairy causes your skin to produce excess sebum (oil), leading to – you guessed it! – more clogged pores, more acne, and a breeding ground for P. acnes bacteria, which feed on your sebum and spew out inflammatory by-products.
  • Dairy glues together dead skin cells inside your pores, so they can’t exit naturally, leading to clogged pores (and thus more acne).

The milk and acne effect is well documented in the literature. In the last decade or so, a number of studies have found a strong link between the consumption of milk and increased occurrence of acne. For example, one such study found that teenage boys who drank milk broke out more often, and more severely, than those who didn’t drink milk.[1]  At least five other studies have confirmed that, in general, the more milk you drink, the worse acne you’ll get.[2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

So What Should You Do To Get Clearer Skin?

The answer is simple: cut dairy out of your diet. This includes milk, cheese, kefir, yogurt, ice cream, and so on. If it has milk in it, it’s likely to give you acne.

Okay, I know that isn’t easy, especially if you love dairy products and food that includes dairy products (like pizza, or my childhood favorite, toasted sesame bagels with cream cheese).

It’s hard, I know!

I haven’t eaten much dairy for the last 8 years or so, because it makes me break out like there’s no tomorrow. I miss it, but I like how I look with clear skin way better.

The thing is, if you want clear skin, cutting out dairy is one of the most powerful things you can do.

I’m not saying it’s a good idea to go cold turkey on all dairy.

Try this: gradually cut out milk and dairy products over a few weeks, and maintain this dairy-free diet for at least 90 days to see if it makes difference for your skin.

I’m confident it will, and that you will love the improvement so much that you’ll never want to consume dairy again! (In fact, chances are you’ll start seeing improvement in a week or less! Usually, if I eat some dairy and break out, my skin clears up again in about a week after I stop eating dairy.)

Example Plan

Start with breakfast. Cut out dairy products from your morning routine, and eat eggs and bacon instead, or whatever else you’d like that doesn’t include dairy. Do that for a week. The following week, cut out dairy from your lunch as well. The third week, do dinner. This is a good way to ease into things. Going cold turkey on dairy can be tough, as it’s so dang tasty! (Dairy is also physically addictive, as it contains opioid peptides that mimic the action of opium.[7] )

What About Organic Milk or Hormone-Free Milk?

There’s actually no such thing as “hormone-free milk.” What producers really mean by that is that no synthetic hormones were given to the dairy cows. However, cows still pump tons of growth hormones into their milk to make their calves grow big and strong, and these natural hormones (IGF-1, growth hormone) are some of the main reasons that dairy causes acne. So, sorry, organic milk and hormone-free milk are not much better for your skin!

What about Raw Milk?

Raw milk, raw yogurt, raw kefir, etc. are much more easily digestible than pasteurized and homogenized dairy, and some people who suffer from acne happily consume raw dairy with no problems.

(I’ve had moderate success with raw milk myself while doing a muscle-building program – I got some acne, but not too bad, and I managed to build quite a lot of muscle.)

For the majority of people, though, raw milk is still likely to cause problems, because it still contains the natural cow hormones that cause acne, and it still spikes your insulin like regular milk does (which leads to inflammation and redness/swelling of acne).

If you want to try raw dairy, I recommend that you try adding it into your diet little by little to see if your body can handle it without causing breakouts (do this after the 90 days of going dairy-free, and once your acne situation is well-controlled).

Now, it’s not easy to buy raw milk products, as selling raw milk is illegal in most places. For more information on where to find raw milk near you, check out Real Milk’s website.[8]

What About Lactaid or Lactose-Free Milk?

It’s a common belief that lactose-free milk is better for acne in some way, but I’m going to prove to you otherwise.

Lactaid and other “lactose-free” milk is just regular milk with an enzyme called lactase added to pre-digest the lactose for people with lactose intolerance. Otherwise, lactose-free milk is still the same as regular milk.

That makes it a no-go if you’ve got acne.


Because the lactose is typically not what causes acne. (It may cause diarrhea, but not acne!) It’s typically other ingredients found in milk, suach as whey, casein, IGF-1, and growth hormone (GH), that cause acne, not the lactose.

(Geek note: Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down lactose, the primary sugar in milk. Your gut produces lactase when you’re a baby so you can digest your mother’s milk, but a lot of people lose the ability to produce lactase after childhood or once they’re weaned. A lot of people with Northern European ancestry have inherited a gene mutation that allows them to keep producing lactase into adulthood. However, even for these folks, drinking milk is still likely to cause acne, because it’s not the lactose that matters, it’s the other stuff.)

What About Goat Milk and Sheep Milk?

Goat and sheep milk is generally easier to digest, but it still tends to cause acne.

Goats and sheep, like cows, pump hormones into their milk to help their babies grow. While it’s true that the A2 proteins in goat milk and sheep milk (and yogurt, cheese, etc. derived from goat/sheep milk) are easier to digest than the A1 protein produced by Holstein cows (which produce the majority of U.S. dairy), goat and sheep milk still contains IGF-1 and growth hormone, and still spikes your insulin.

You might find that you can tolerate raw goat milk, for example, without getting acne, but I strongly suggest you cut out dairy for at least two weeks, ideally 90 days (to allow time for all your clogged pores to un-clog themselves), before you start experimenting with things like raw goat milk, raw cow yogurt, etc.

What About Yogurt? Aren’t The Probiotics Good For Me?

Probiotics are indeed good for you, but yogurt is not the ideal way to get them! Yogurt has some of the IGF-1 removed through the fermentation process, but not entirely, and it still contains natural milk hormones and proteins that tend to cause acne. (Update: extremely acidic, sour yogurt can have significantly reduced amounts of IGF-1, but most store-bought yogurt has a pH of around 4.8,[9] which isn’t low enough to denature the IGF-1 at all.[10] )

If you’re looking to rebuild your digestive flora, a better idea is to take a probiotic supplement. One of the highest-quality probiotic supplements currently available is called Prescript Assist. It’s not cheap, but it’s different from other probiotics in that it’s comprised of soil-based organisms, organisms which are highly represented in a healthy adult’s gut. Other helpful probiotics include strains of L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria.

Especially if you’ve used antibiotics recently, I’d suggest taking a high-strength probiotic like Prescript Assist for at least 60 days. (Even if you haven’t, it’s probably worth taking some kind of probiotic from time to time unless you’re eating a lot of (non-dairy!) live, fermented foods.)

What About Buttermilk, Or [Insert Type of Dairy Here]?

No go, sorry! All dairy products (except ghee) contain suspect milk proteins and hormones that tend to cause acne for all the reasons listed above. Here’s a list I’m going to add to over time with dairy products that should generally be avoided (unless you’re deliberately testing on yourself):

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Buttermilk
  • Skim milk
  • Organic milk
  • Pasture-raised milk
  • Raw milk
  • Goat milk
  • Goat yogurt
  • Goat cheese
  • Sheep cheese
  • Powdered milk
  • Condensed milk

Just because X form of dairy isn’t on this list does not mean it’s okay for your skin! Leave me a comment below if you’re really not sure about a certain type of dairy.

Alternatives to Milk for Clear Skin

There are a few great alternatives to milk if you’re still hooked on liquid white stuff. Here we go:

  • Unsweetened, organic almond milk
  • Unsweetened, organic coconut milk (“So Delicious” or similar brand)
  • AROY-D 100% Coconut Cream
  • Organic full-fat coconut milk

You have to be a little careful with milk substitutes as they tend to have a bunch of added sugar and sometimes vegetable oil (both of which negatively affect your hormones and can worsen acne).

That’s why I recommend unsweetened almond or coconut milk.

(Note: by “vegetable oil” I mean canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, and cottonseed oil. These oils contain high amounts of inflammatory omega-6 fats. Olive oil, on the other hand, is fantastic! Just don’t cook with it, as it’s unstable to heat and forms skin-damaging free radicals. Other good fats to use for clear skin are red palm oil, coconut oil, and animal fats.)

You can also make your own nut milks, of course! Almond milk, Brazil nut milk, hazelnut milk – you name it. Google around a bit if you’re curious about this – you’ll find tons of great recipes and how-to’s out there. That way, you know you’re getting just pure, healthy nuts and no funny stuff added.

My personal favorite these days is AROY-D 100% Coconut Cream. It’s prized by Thai master chefs (so I’ve read) as the best-tasting coconut milk / coconut cream around. It’s incredibly rich and loaded with healthy medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and stable saturated fats. It mixes great into green smoothies and curries.

But Cereal’s No Good Without Milk…

You’re absolutely right! The alternatives to milk, like almond milk and coconut milk, really aren’t as good, and eating cereal becomes a lot less enjoyable without real milk. I’m going to propose something drastic: if you’re quitting milk, you might as well quit cereal and kill two acne-causing birds with one stone (excuse the violent phrase).

The main thing is that cereal can destroy your gut, especially if you’re one of the 70% of people that are probably sensitive to gluten.

That opens the floodgates for systemic inflammation (redness/swelling of acne), food allergies, and majorly worsened acne.

Even gluten-free cereal tends to be loaded with sugar and/or baked in some kind of vegetable oil, which leads to lipid peroxidation. Peroxidized lipids are BAD. They can directly damage your skin’s cell membranes, and if your immune system is already compromised from eating gluten and processed foods, you can’t really neutralize the peroxidized lipids as well, so they wreak havoc. I’m going to write a post soon about cereal and/or gluten, and I’ll link it here. Until then, you can read more on ye olde internets, or check out our book, Clear Skin Forever.

The best thing you can do, cereal-wise, is to stop eating it altogether.

I ate cereal + milk for breakfast every morning for close to 15 years, but now I know that it gives me acne, taxes my immune system, and drains my energy, so I’ve switched to pasture-raised eggs, bacon, and green smoothies for breakfast. Give it a try – your skin will thank you!

Do Not Drink Soy Milk!

Soy milk is made from processed soybeans, which can have estrogen-mimicking effects on the body. Any food that could potentially disturb your hormones in this way is something you’ll want to avoid as you’re going toward clear skin.

Furthermore, soy contains large amounts of omega-6 fats, which cause inflammation and redness/swelling of acne unless balanced out by a healthy amount of omega-3 fats (rare in most modern diets).

Soy is also linked to increased rate of birth defects, increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s later in life,[11] and is very often genetically modified (unless organic or otherwise stated). The health effects of genetically modified foods are a hotly debated issue, but why play guinea pig on yourself when genetically modified foods are so new to our bodies?

Finally, the minerals found in soymilk are basically useless to humans, because they’re bound up by phytic acid (used by plants for defense against getting eaten before they flower and reproduce). Tempeh is much better in this regard, as the phytic acid is broken down by the fermentation process. By some accounts having around half the phytic acid.[12]

Are You Physically Addicted To Milk?

Surprising fact: milk contains casomorphin, which is a physiologically addictive substance that essentially does to your brain what morphine and opium do (to a lesser degree).

Casomorphin binds to opioid receptors in your brain and makes you happy, and then your brain gets used to the jolt when you drink milk over and over, and you get unhappy if you try to stop drinking it. (Or eating cheese, or yogurt, or pretty much any other kind of dairy.)

Milk is yummy stuff, but it’s also literally addictive!

That tends to make it seem more tasty than it really is, in my experience.

And the acne trade-off doesn’t seem worth it. The best defense you have against relapsing into dairy-drinking is to just stop for at least two weeks, then drink some milk and see what happens to your skin. After a few times of doing that, I can almost guarantee you’ll be able to get over the addiction!

Watch Out For Hidden Milk Ingredients

Dairy is in everything.

Okay, not everything, but tons of packaged foods and restaurant dishes have hidden dairy.

Read ingredients labels before you buy anything! Case in point, a reader recently discovered that the tomato soup he was eating – which sounds healthy enough – had powdered milk in it (which is actually one of the worst forms of dairy, since it’s so heavily processed).

Other examples: mashed potatoes often have milk in them. Omelets and scrambled eggs, in restaurants, often are “fluffed up” with milk. (And scrambled eggs are bad news anyway because of the oxidized cholesterol – see below.)

The list of hidden milk ingredients is pretty long – anything with a cream sauce, anything that’s creamy (including lots of Indian food), probably has dairy. Just keep a careful eye out, and you’ll learn over time what’s better to avoid.

What About Whey Protein?

Whey protein is definitely a strong acne trigger! See our article here for more info:

Whey and Acne: Does Whey Protein Cause Acne?

What About Eggs? Are They Dairy?

Eggs are fantastic!

Eggs are not dairy, even though they are essentially baby food (for the growing, unborn chick).

Eggs do not have growth hormones like IGF-1 that are bioactive in humans. Eggs are really a fabulous food, especially farmers’ market, pasture-raised eggs. They’re loaded with choline, lutein, zeaxanthin, B vitamins, cholesterol (which is a good thing – it’s the building block for all hormones in the body, after all), and healthy fats. I eat three eggs, typically, for breakfast.

Poaching or soft-boiling are you best bets for healthy eggs. Sunnyside up is a solid method.

I strongly advise against scrambling your eggs, though (I used to do this all the time). When you scramble an egg, you oxidize the cholesterol in the yolk, turning an otherwise healthy nutrient (cholesterol) into a dangerous substance (oxidized cholesterol), which tends to take up residence in your arteries. Yikes.

The healthiest way to cook an egg is to keep the yolk intact and runny – poaching is definitely my method of choice. Give it a shot if you haven’t yet!

Key Take-Aways

  • Dairy is one of the worst acne triggers in the Western diet. It contains the growth hormone IGF-1 and it spikes your insulin dramatically, leading to inflammation, redness, swelling, clogged pores, and acne.
  • Try cutting out processed milk and dairy products from your diet for 90 days. It’s one of the most powerful things you can do to start clearing up your skin.
  • Dairy is chemically addictive (like opium and morphine, but to a lesser degree), so quitting dairy can be tough.
  • The minimum I recommend, if you’re really addicted to dairy, is to cut out dairy 100% for two whole weeks, then re-introduce it and see what it does to your skin. If you break out, you’ll have more evidence and stronger desire to quit dairy long-term. (You may have to repeat this process a few times – it took me many cycles of this before I was able to quit dairy 100%!)
  • Watch out for hidden dairy ingredients. Read ingredients labels before you buy packaged food, and ask at restaurants for dairy-free options.
  • Quitting dairy is only one part of a holistic diet- and lifestyle-based treatment for acne.
  • You also need to fix the other diet- and lifestyle-based root causes of acne (and that’s what our book is all about!).

While dairy is one of the worst acne triggers out there, there’s even more you can do to kickstart your journey to clear skin.

If you’d like to be walked through the whole process of tweaking your diet for clear skin, I’ve written an ebook that does just that. It’s called “Clear Skin Forever” (surprise, surprise!).

For this complete guide to taking an all-natural, diet-based approach to getting rid of acne and having clear skin for life (no kidding!), go here.

Sources (click to expand)

  1. Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2008 May;58(5):787-93. ^
  2. Family history, body mass index, selected dietary factors, menstrual history, and risk of moderate to severe acne in adolescents and young adults. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2012 Dec;67(6):1129-35. ^
  3. High glycemic load diet, milk and ice cream consumption are related to acne vulgaris in Malaysian young adults: a case control study. BMC Dermatology. 2012 Aug 16;12:13. ^
  4. Role of insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, hyperglycaemic food and milk consumption in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris. Experimental Dermatology, 18: 833–841. ^
  5. Milk consumption: aggravating factor of acne and promoter of chronic diseases of Western societies. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2009 Apr;7(4):364-70. ^
  6. High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2005 Feb;52(2):207-14. ^
  7. Opioid peptides encrypted in intact milk protein sequences. British Journal of Nutrition / Volume 84 / Supplement S1 / November 2000, pp 27-31. ^
  8. Real Milk Finder. ^
  9. Are All Yogurts Created Equal? ^
  10. The Effects of Dairy Processes and Storage on Insulin-Like Growth Factor-I (IGF-I) Content in Milk and in Model IGF-I–Fortified Dairy Products. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^


  1. Megan says

    I too have found from trial and error that milk is one of my triggers for acne. I also find eating too many eggs or too much soy makes my face break out. All three of these things are very dose dependent. I am able to get away with a little. I have also found that dairy with more whey such as skim milk, yogurt and ice cream makes my breakouts worse. While heavy cream, butter and ghee don’t cause breakouts for me. Soft cheese are worse but hard cheeses are OK in small doses for me. Everyone is different, and their level of tolerance is different, so need to figure out what works or doesn’t work for them. Just my two cents.

  2. Bryce Browning says

    Hello again! This dairy free lifestyle has helped my face tremendously! Thank you!

    Two quick questions: You spoke about cooking with olive oil and the danger in doing so. I throw a little olive oil on a pan before I make eggs in the morning. Is that what you are warning about? What is it potentially doing to my skin?

    And also, my mom, being the best parent ever, bough Go Veggie Dairy Free cheese for a meal tonight, and I was wondering if that is an okay alternative? The first ingredient is water, and then a few different oils. Thanks! :)

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Hey Bryce, really glad to hear that! Yes, that’s what we’re warning about, though if you occasionally cook with some olive oil over VERY LOW heat, that’s probably ok. Better to use coconut oil, animal fat, or red palm oil. Even grass-fed butter is a decent choice (though of course it’s dairy!).

      In general we’re not fans of cheese substitutes because they are often soy-based or packed with veggie oils. You’ll have to read ingredients on your particular brand, but it’s probably not great, sorry :(. Your mom does sound awesome, though!!

  3. fabio says

    Hi again, since you say it’s not good to wash our face with products and stuff and now it’s summer, does the sun cream to protect our skin from the sun makes our face worst if i put it in my face?

  4. Heidi says

    Hi, I have read both your book and recipe book (loved them by the way) and was shocked to discover how much of the food I eat was contributing to my acne! I have tried my best to eat healthier since then but I’m a teenager and still growing, so wouldn’t cutting out dairy cause health problems? I mean it’s part of the ‘healthy diet’ for strong bones and calcium that we learn about at school, so will cutting it out effect my growth or overall health?

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Hey Heidi! Really glad you got and enjoyed our books :). You and Lily had the same question at the same time, so see my response to her, below!

  5. Lily says

    I have been suffered from acne for more than 10 years . I have eventually found out that when I drank less milk , I would have less acne . I didn’t know the reason why , but I haven’t drunk milk for a year now,and my skin is much clearer. Thanks for putting on this website so I understand what actually milk did to my body and skin.

    However, I am worried about my low calcium intake. Does anyone can give me some suggestions on I should eat to boost my calcium level in my diet to replace milk totally ? Thanks a lot !

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Really glad you finally made the connection with milk and your acne! Good question on calcium. Briefly, you don’t need milk and other dairy foods to get a good amount of calcium in your diet, and our book goes into more detail about how to eat in such a way, which involves including meat cooked on the bone, bone broth, organ meats, leafy greens, and almonds and other nuts in your diet. If your diet mostly consists of a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods, you should be a-ok on calcium!

  6. Kelly says

    I suffered SO bad with spots from dairy I cannot tell you. I have been on a diet for the last year and a half whereby I don’t eat anything that is at all processed nor do I eat dairy (because of my skin) but I do eat natural live yoghurt because it helps to fight against candida (yeast that grows in your stomach, makes you crave bad foods and bloats you). I do not get a single spot from natural LIVE yoghurt and I suffered badly from dairy! I only had to look at milk and I had a spot so I don’t necessarily agree with ‘no natural live yoghurt’ but that’s me personally. I do, however, occasionally have milk (semi skimmed if I am making porridge) and all I have in that is porridge oats, milk and water… nothing processed, and I get spots. I can eat fresh strawberries and proper fresh cream with no added sugars etc and get a massive spot. Cutting out dairy massively helps. I never suffered too bad with cheese I must say but milk, cream and ice cream were a massive no. I have heard that when you have an intolerance to something, your body craves it and I constantly crave ice cream and ice cream is the absolute worst thing in the world for my skin!

  7. joshsuarez says

    Hi can i ask a pineapple juice or lemon juice is better instead of milk or drinks that contain dairy products..

    • Sonia Carlson says

      We’re not big fans of fruit juices in general because they give you a big sugar rush (even if no sugar is added!). Lemon juice, though… unsweetened lemon juice is great for you, but I can’t imagine you’d be drinking it straight?

  8. Laura says

    Hi guys. Thanks so much for this informative article.

    Based on your advice, I have completely eliminated all dairy from my diet for a little over 10 weeks now.
    During that time, I have had no cystic blemishes. (Yeeeeey!!!)

    Despite this, I am still breaking out on a weekly basis. Just very small pimples, but still disheartening nonetheless.

    In your experience, can I expect to see more improvement, or do I need to consider other changes to completely rid myself of this.

    I have a very clean diet. Very little sugar, lots of fruit and veggies, and limited wheat/ gluten.

    I have struggled with acne for 12 years, and the thought of finding the root cause is so compelling it hurts!

    Thanks in advance.

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Hey Laura! Yay for the improvement you’re seeing – and it also sounds like while you’ve helped your skin, you’ve still got some more work to do. There are a lot of dietary factors that can play into acne, which we go into to a certain degree on our other blog posts (have you read the articles on vitamin D and zinc?), but for all the details, check out our book!

      • Laura says

        Hey Sonia,

        Thanks for the reply. I suppose what I’m asking is, before I make any other drastic changes, is it likely that the improvement will continue, or is that my lot?

        I know it’s a difficult question to answer, but in your book you state DF should be adhered to for 90 days. Am I right in thinking that improvement can be expected up to that point but not beyond? Like I say, I’m coming up to the ten week mark of complete abstinence.

        Thanks again.


        • Sonia Carlson says

          You’re right – that is a difficult question to answer. Most likely, you’ve seen most of the benefit of going dairy-free – I would suggest exploring other diet and lifestyle areas while staying dairy-free. Best of luck to you in this! I know it can be tough to make big changes, but it’s absolutely worth at least giving them a solid try!

    • Kelly says

      I used to be like this (see my comment above) and cutting out dairy helped big time. It may take a while before you see a huge difference. I have oily skin also and if you do too I would suggest looking at your skin care routine. You want to use oil free face creams, foundations, wipes, face washes etc and try to use fragrance free ones. I use the simple refreshing facial gel wash with no added perfumes or colours or I use the body shop tea tree face wash, I then exfoliate with just hot water and a flannel, tone with the body shop tea tree toner (tea tree is amazing for the skin) and then moisturise with L’Oreal skin perfection face and eye cream and my oiliness has gone right down. The face products you use, your routine and diet all play a part in your skins appearance. Also, drink a LOT of water.

  9. says

    Hello! I’m so glad I stumbled upon this website. I’m 15 years old and have suffered from acne since the age of 7. The doctor did not understand why I had it at the age of 7 as I had not started puberty. I’ve tired to many drugs, creams and face washes and nothing works longer than 6 Months :( So I’m really sick of acne! I was thinking about it and milk is something that I eat for breakfast every single day (even when I was 7) I’m addicted to Milo cereal but I’m willing to cut it out of my diet (along with milk) to get clear skin! I have a question. With everything I’ve just said do you think it would be a good idea for me to cut milk out of my diet?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Judging by the length of this article (and the length I go to to explain why dairy is such a strong acne trigger), you bet! :) I think it’s well worth ditching dairy.

  10. says

    I’m 54yrs old I only had 1 cyst a month as a teen & older, around menstruation always on my chin like a boil. Now that I’m in my 50’s & past menopause since 39, I started getting these bumps on my forehead with a hard white core that can be scraped off which is now starting to spread to the temples & sides of my face. As well I’m starting to notice on the sides of my nose larger pores that I did not have before & white looking clogs on the nose. It’s driving me crazy, I have to admit my diet has been poor since I was rear ended in my vehicle resulting in severe back problems, not doing much cooking these days. My husband fixes stuff like sausage & mac cheese, ham sandwiches & pork chops with green beans & store bought mashed potatoes. I’m greatfull for that or I probably wouldn’t eat at all. Yes I’m also stressed due to the pain in my back. Is what I have a form of acne? I am going to cut out dairy & look into the butter you talked about at Costco. I will look into your ebook as well. Do I need to download it on my laptop as well as pay again for it on my ipad?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Donna! Nope, when you buy the book you can download/read it on as many devices as you want, you only pay the one time. By the way, have you looked into any of John Sarno’s books on chronic back pain? He’s got some interesting perspectives that helped me cure carpal tunnel, chronic hip/back pain, etc., and he talks about post-car-crash back and neck pain as well.

  11. grace says

    glad i found your blog and expained why i have these acne each time i drank milk.
    i’ve been so confused that each time i drink milk or soy milk i breakout. even eating bread makes me breakout. but i cant eat cereal without milk.
    so i only drink 2~3 times a week for my cereal.

    i love yoghurt and i am on a yoghurt diet right now but i find myself breaking out little by little.
    can i ask if i have greek yoghurt will it be better than other yoghurt
    or is there other yogurt brand that i can consume without breaking out?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Wish I had an easier answer for ya, but pretty much all yogurt is out, Greek or other. The only way I could recommend trying yogurt is if you make it yourself, from raw milk, without heating (e.g. mesophilic culture instead of thermophilic so you don’t have to heat the yogurt), and make it VERY sour. MUCH safer to avoid yogurt and milk altogether though – seriously, it’s such a strong acne trigger that it’s really not worth eating while you’re trying to clear up your skin.

  12. Ao says

    Well, your article made me return the gallons of milk and cereal I was holding. I am a fan of cereal for breakfast and ice cream but I guess that will have to change now. I’ve been suffering from acne since I was 15. Been to many dermatologists and had several painful, depressing and annoying treatments, yet nothing worked. It would disappear for few months, giving me false hope, then suddenly would appear like a bomb on my face and body.
    I’m glad I came across your article avoiding another mistake. Hopefully (really, really hopeful) I will be free of this unwanted partner in life.

  13. Tim says

    I am a 44 year old man who has suffered from acne since age 12. I had been a big milk drinker all of my life. During adolescence I had face and body acne, which was attributed by my dermatologist as sweat from sports and puberty. While he may have been right at the time, my facial acne cleared up at age 21 but I suffered body acne until age 43. The cure? My wife is a Dr of naturopathic medicine and advised me to cut out milk, which I did. After two or three months the acne disappeared completely. I consume cheese almost daily with no acne producing side effects. I still workout six days per week and have not changed anything else is my diet or soap/hygenic product use.

    • Sonia Carlson says

      Wow, thanks for sharing your experience, Tim! Many of us have labored under the misleading assumption that our acne was caused by sweat, puberty, or poor hygiene. I’m so glad cutting out milk worked for you, finally – and that you still get to enjoy your cheese with no adverse skin effects :)

  14. Josephine says

    I’m glad I came across this article. I’ve eliminated all milk and milk products from my diet. I’m already noticing a positive change on my face in less than a weeks time. wonderful…

  15. browngirl says

    Hi !I used to have a baby skin until I reached the age of 15 From then on, I started having blackheads ad small spots. In college I decided it should stop so i went on roaccutane (european accutane) and then it stopped but came back a few months later and it came up in the form of painful cysts. I went on a second round of accutane which did not work as well as the first time I took it. Then my dermatologist put me on hormonal pills but it was even worse. I stopped going to the dermatologist altogether since it was obviously a waste of time and MONEY, after seeing the same dermatologist for years she could not be honest and tell me that there was no definite way to cure it. Now I discovered the whole “how diet affects your skin” thing, I am trying to put all dairy, sugar , caffeine and gluten out of my diet. Of course, there are things I cannot resist : I happen to love cappuccinos (once a day) and I know there is powdered milk and glucose in it but hey you gotta live right ?

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey! I’d add vegetable oil to that list of things to cut out – it’s a sneaky nastie that’s VERY good at triggering acne. Definitely gotta live sometimes! Have you tried almond milk cappuccinos or anything?

  16. laura says

    my 18 year old son has moderate cystic acne on face and back. dermo prescribed Accutante 40 mg for 5-6 months. he has been taking drug for 6 days but after reading all the side effects (especially the long term effects nobody seems to tell you about in the docs office), i am freaking out. he has tried using erythromycin and benzoyl peroxide topical gel for 3 years prior to no avail. i read your above comments regarding eliminating dairy products which we will do immediately. question-what are your thoughts on accutane? do you believe moderate acne can be eliminated by dietary methods rather than continual harsh drugs? i am torn. the quick fix seems to be tolerate accutane but the long term effects of this drug are so incredibly frightening. Laura

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Laura! I’m glad you got in touch. We strongly advise against Accutane, for two reasons: 1) side effects; 2) it’s not a lasting fix for most people, so it just postpones the real work of figuring out the root causes. In our experience, those root causes of acne are almost always something to do with diet, environment, and/or stress/mindset. We’ve had even very severe cases clear up their skin following our techniques. It doesn’t always necessarily 100% work for everyone depending on a lot of factors, but it’s definitely the best approach we know of for getting long-term results (which is why we made a website/book about it!). Eliminating dairy is a strong first step, after which there’s gluten, vegetable oil, and sugar. I hope this helps! Let me know if I can answer any other Q’s. Our book gives the total run-down on our program.

  17. Ienea Diana says

    I am really glad I found this article and your blog. I tried so many things to get ridd of acne but nothing worked so I decided to change my alimentation. I am addicted to dairy, I drink one cup of milk everyday plus cereal in the weekend so it’s going to be really hard for me but I will do it if it means clear skin. I just have a question: If I want to give up on dairy will I have to eliminate completely everything? Can I eat some products that contain just a little bit of dairy, like the products you said might contain hidden diary ingredients? Also, I will eat them rarely, like once a week.
    Thank you for sharing all these things about acne, it’s really helpful, especially for the ones who’ve tried so many treatments.

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Ienea! I’m glad you’re liking the blog! Dairy causes acne in a “dose-dependent fashion” – in other words, the more you eat, the worse it’s going to trigger acne. For some people, small amounts of dairy don’t cause a problem. I tend to avoid all dairy except raw butter because I’m particularly sensitive, but you’ll probably just need to test that on yourself! Also, keep in mind that dairy isn’t the only trigger – there’s gluten, sugar, vegetable oil, and others. I just don’t want to give you the false impression that dairy is the ONLY dietary trigger of acne! It can be a very powerful thing to change, though. Just eliminate the major sources and see where that gets you – if not totally clear, try eliminating all dairy 100% for a couple weeks, etc. – just need to experiment on yourself!

  18. Heather says

    I’ve been drinking a gallon of skim milk a week about all my life, thinking it was good for me. Giving up dairy would be extremely hard for me, but I’ve developed lots of whiteheads on my face in the past 2 years, and I’m embarrassed about it! I hope you will answer my questions:

    1. If I give up milk, will my whiteheads clear up on their own, or will I still need to treat my skin with something like Retin-A to get rid of what I already have? If it gets better on its own, how long before you see results?
    2. Do American cheese slices have enough milk in them to count?
    3. Is margarine better than real butter?

    Eagerly awaiting your answers.

    • Devin Mooers says

      Hey Heather! Yep, skim milk is really one of the most potent acne triggers out there. Glad you found this article! :)

      1. It’s tough to say. Dairy might not be the only trigger for you – there are other common triggers like gluten, vegetable oil, sugar, stress, etc. (which we describe in detail in our book). Some people start seeing results in a couple days, but for other people, in can take weeks. If you don’t see improvement with ~2 weeks, it’s likely that there are other triggers still in your diet/lifestyle that need fixing. BTW we do not recommend using Retin-A or any other topical treatments – and they’re generally unnecessary once you fix the root diet/lifestyle causes of your acne anyway.

      2. Absolutely! Anything that comes from milk/dairy is potentially suspect. American cheese especially is most likely made from lower-quality milk that’s even more likely to cause acne.

      3. Nope! Margarine is almost always made with vegetable oil, and at worst hydrogenated / trans veg oil. Grass-fed butter, for example, is a powerful health food compared to margarine.

      Hope this helps, let me know if I missed anything!

        • Devin Mooers says

          Yep, there’s a pretty good chance! Our program/approach covers whiteheads, blackheads, inflammatory acne, the whole run of it. :)

  19. Josephine Dunson says

    I started taking plenty of diary products (milk and yoghurt) five months ago to boost my calcium intake. I developed serious acne and dark spots on my face but I did not know the cause. Thank you for your article. I’ll stop taking diary products immediatly.


We're getting so many comments now that we no longer have time to answer them all. We're very sorry! We're focusing most of our time on writing new blog posts for you guys, and creating more value for our book buyers with our members-only forum, Food Explorer, etc. We appreciate your understanding! Feel free to share your thoughts here, though - we do read every comment. :)

- Devin and Sonia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current ye@r *