Full Fat Dairy Doesn’t Cause Acne – WUT?!


This week I saw something interesting pop up on an instastory and I was immediately in disbelief because I do not believe anything the internet tells me without at least scientific some sort of proof. The story claimed that “full fat dairy doesnt cause acne”. Yeah right?…However, this struck me because my skin has been clearer doing keto, eating full fat dairy, rather than the normal fat free stuff I typically opt for when I don’t eat this way.

Today I set out to find out if there is scientific proof because if this means my clearer skin is not due to giving up sugar (which we should give up anyway – see previous post) and more because I gave up low fat dairy…this is a change I am willing to keep in my long term diet. Lets run through some of the benefits of straight up full fat dairy anyway before I tell you what my research found:

  1. It keeps you fuller – more fat, more calories but fuller longer and need less to reach that fullness point.
  2. No added colors to make it look white – they add whitener to skim milk to make it look white because who wants to drink grey water?
  3. Tastes so good which means we are satisfied from a pallet standpoint.
  4. Less sugar…no explanation needed here.

So now to get into the heart of it. There is a correlation between dairy and acne. Not everyone has this reaction but many do. In a study of 225 teenagers 14-19, the following was found:

Our data supports previous research that an association exists between acne and skim milk consumption. We did not find an association between acne and consumption of full-fat milk, other dairy products, macronutrient composition, glycemic index, or glycemic load.1

They further went on to explain:

There are differences between full-fat and skim milk, including the overall composition of proteins, fatty acids, and cholesterol molecules.Milk fat, although containing saturated fats, also contains numerous medium-chain fatty acids beneficial in promoting healthy metabolism and decreasing insulin resistance. Dairy fat also contains bioactive branched chain fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and the monounsaturated fatty acids, oleic acid and trans-palmitoleic acid. All have been shown to benefit metabolic profiles. In addition, dairy fat allows greater bioavailability and distribution of vitamins A and D, fat-soluble vitamins that are removed and then added back to skim milk.1

Another study went on to state that, “skim milk contains hormonal constituents, or factors that influence endogenous hormones, in sufficient quantities to have biological effects in consumers.2” This too basically confirms that acne, being the biological effect of endogenous hormones, is affected by skim milk consumption.

There are many more studies out there like these that confirm the same correlation. If you are someone who struggles with acne and are an active dairy consumer, it might be worth looking at what type you are consuming.  If its fat free, test a switch to full fat. It would take anywhere from 1-2 months for your skin to improve, but you could see results immediately depending on how severe your acne is.


1: LaRosa CL, Quach KA, Koons K, Kunselman AR, Zhu J, Thiboutot DM, Zaenglein AL.
Consumption of dairy in teenagers with and without acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016
Aug;75(2):318-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2016.04.030. Epub 2016 May 27. PubMed PMID:

2: Adebamowo C.A., Spiegelman D., Berkey C.S., Danby F.W., Rockett H.H., Colditz G.A., Willett W.C., Holmes M.D. Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys.(2008)  Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology,  58  (5) , pp. 787-793.

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