Can Consuming Dairy Cause Acne?

Wendy Rodewald
Woman drinking milk

Photo: Getty Images

In our new Q&A series, beauty experts address your most bewildering issues. Have a beauty-related quandary of your own? Submit your question in the comments below or via Twitter.

Q: I’ve heard of people cutting out dairy to clear up their skin. Can drinking milk or consuming other types of dairy cause acne?

A: “Dairy, and specifically milk, is not a specific cause of breaking out,” says Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, cosmetic dermatologist and founder and director of The Fifth Avenue Dermatology Surgery and Laser Center in New York. “However, there is a general nutritional consensus that a diet that has a lot of dairy in it is ‘pro inflammatory’ meaning that it can exacerbate any condition, like acne, that involves inflammation of tissue.”

“Unfortunately, many suffer with acne and a very small minority of people will see their acne improve if they cut out milk all together. There are those that are sensitive that are the exception. So for those with the skin disorder, it is certainly in their best interest to experiment and maximize their nutritional state. Drinking milk or coffee don’t have any skin benefits so minimizing dairy, sugars and simple carbohydrates is a good idea and may help.”

The verdict? If your acne doesn’t respond to other treatments, try cutting out dairy and see what happens. But don’t forget to address other acne causes, such as stress, hormonal issues and sensitivity to products.

Read more: The 5 Rules of Clear Skin