Can the Use of Milk and Milk Products Help Acne?

Milk and Hormones

Cattle in many parts of the world are fed androgens or injected with androgenic hormones to build muscle and to increase milk production. This finds its way into milk and other dairy products we consume. Androgen is a male hormone that causes the sebaceous glands to go into overdrive and increase oil production. Excess oil mixes with dirt, gets infected by bacteria and this causes acne outbreaks. Hence, many researchers feel that milk products – especially skim milk can increase acne outbreaks. However, this can be disproved by the fact that vegetarians who do not consume beef or vegans who avoid all dairy products can still get acne like others who do. 

Another cause for increase in hormone levels in milk is that often milk is got from pregnant cows. These cows have more hormone levels and consumption of dairy products increases risk of acne outbreaks. Even organic milk is not an option for although such cows are not fed hormones, when pregnant they will naturally produce hormones.

Can Milk Cause Acne?

Studies have found that food allergies can contribute to acne outbreaks. So, if a person has milk allergy and consumes dairy products, this can cause pimples to form. One study found that 22% of women who drank more than three glasses of milk in a day were prone to outbreaks than those who had just one glass. This was said to be because of the hormones contained in fresh milk and dairy products. Some dermatologists advise patients with cystic acne to stay off all dairy products when undergoing treatment. These patients were advised to take calcium supplements to prevent a deficiency. You can test for a food allergy to rule out any problems with milk products to protect yourself from acne outbreaks.

milk and acne

Some studies have included other dairy products like cottage cheese and cream cheese and their effects on acne. The studies have been inconclusive, although it has been suggested that those who have a family history of acne must avoid excess dairy products from a young age.

Benefits of Milk for Acne

While there are various diverse opinions about the effect of consuming milk on acne, milk can help other ways in controlling acne. Milk can be made into a facial mask using different ingredients. Lactic acid reduces itching. Milk is also a good moisturizer and can control severity of acne outbreaks. Before using a milk mask, wash your face thoroughly. A hot shower prior to applying a milk mask can open pores making the mask more effective. These masks can be left on the face for a few minutes before being washed off. Use organic products if possible to get the best effects.

  • Cow’s milk – Mix 3 tablespoons cow’s milk with 1 tablespoon natural honey and 1 ½ cups brown sugar to make a paste. You can even add 2 tablespoons oatmeal to exfoliate the skin. Use skim milk or milk with less fat to reduce oiliness of the skin.
  • Goat’s milk – This mask can be made using 5 tablespoons goat’s milk, 1 tablespoon honey, 6 tablespoons rice flour and 1 teaspoon jojoba oil. The mixture must be warmed in the microwave for 10-30 seconds before applying it to the skin. 


Dermatologists and researchers are still at odds about the effect of milk on acne. Many in fact warn people that growing children must be given adequate milk to provide the body with sufficient calcium. Hence, completely avoiding milk and its products is not a solution. On the other hand, those who have very severe acne outbreaks can test to see if milk or dairy products aggravate the condition. If it does, they can avoid these products for a few weeks until the condition is under control before consuming them again. 

If you do have a problem with milk, you can look for substitutes like soy milk. For additional calcium consume fresh leafy green vegetables, canned salmon or salmon. You can even take a calcium supplement if required to ensure you do not develop a deficiency. Your doctor will advise you about the amount of milk you can consume.