HORMONE SERIES | My Thoughts on Dairy & Acne

HORMONE SERIES | My Thoughts on Dairy & Acne


When you initially begin searching for ways to eliminate your adult acne, some of the first advice you will likely come across is to ditch dairy. For good. There are numerous studies linking consumption of dairy, namely skim milk and ice cream, with an increased incidence of acne citing various possible mechanisms for this, including the exogenous sex hormones in milk and milk’s effect on insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), amongst others.[1] In fact, some researchers have coined milk as “nature’s perfect food” for acne. Sounds pretty damning, right?

Before you embark on a sad, cheese-less existence, let’s back up for a sec. First, the majority of studies cited related to dairy and acne rely on teenagers as subjects. Though you might in fact feel like you are still 18, your hormones would suggest otherwise. Second, the strongest correlations between dairy and acne were found among subjects consuming skim milk and ice cream (and even those were weak correlations at best).  Third, there is more evidence to date to suggest that dairy is anti-inflammatory, rather than pro-inflammatory.[2]

So to dairy or not to dairy? Well let’s start by examining your expectations for dairy consumption. I would not advise eating every dairy product that isn’t nailed down. In fact, I recommend consuming dairy in moderation. Additionally, eliminate your consumption of skim milk entirely. On second thought, let’s ditch cow’s milk altogether. There are plenty of unsweetened nut milks on the market that offer a much better alternative. Additionally, save ice cream as a sweet treat, not an every night kind of thing. (Ice cream contains the double whammy of dairy and sugar so it is definitely no friend to your skin.)

Where does that leave us? With yogurt, cheese, and butter of course! But before you dive into those Kraft singles, I want to clarify what I mean by yogurt, cheese, and butter. I’m talking about the good stuff – organic, pasture-raised, full fat goodness. Raw is even better.[3] That means no sugary yogurts and no processed cheeses. And again, I want to stress moderation. Why? Because if you load up your diet with cheese and yogurt that leaves little room for our favorite friends, vegetables. Vegetables are key to beautiful skin people. Key.

I want to offer one more caveat. If you experience digestive difficulties like gas or bloating when eating any kind of dairy, then eliminate it entirely. Work on rebuilding and repairing your gut during the elimination period and then try reintroducing dairy. If you still experience the same symptoms, then dairy is just not for you.

Finally, I’m not telling you not to eliminate dairy if you feel like that is right for you and your skin. Go for it. This post is meant more for those dairy lovers who just can’t seem to kick their habit and feel guilty about every morsel of dairy they consume.

At the end of the day, I don’t want you to be scared of food. My goal is to help you consume dairy wisely so that you have a satisfying, nutrient-dense diet and the healthiest, glowiest skin possible!

Need one-on-one insight and advice, book a session. I’m here to help!!


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884775/
[2] http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2014.967385
[3] https://chriskresser.com/raw-milk-reality-benefits-of-raw-milk/