Got Acne? A New Study Says Skim Milk May Be To Blame

It seems that milk is one drink where you should go full fat. Herein, an explainer about how skim milk may lead to pimples in teens

acne skim milk

(Illustration by: Paola Cortez)

Holy cow!

There’s some new and unsavoury news on the acne front, and it’s directly related to milk. A recent study released by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology has found a positive link between low fat or skim milk consumption and acne in teens. Which means after years of believing that milk does a body good, we’re now learning that it actually does your face bad.

“Dairy naturally contains hormones such as estrogen, and it has also been shown to stimulate testosterone in people who consume it,” says Dr. Jeremy Fenton, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group with offices in New York and New Jersey. “It may also stimulate cell signaling, especially inflammatory signals in the body.” And as we already know, when our hormones are in overdrive they can wreak havoc on our skin by stimulating acne-promoting effects like excess sebum production and increased bacteria.

Interestingly, there was no connection between full-fat milk and acne production. Although it’s unclear exactly why there would be such a drastic discrepancy between the two types, Dr. Fenton theorizes that it may have to do with rate at which the body metabolizes skim milk.

“Skim milk is metabolized faster than whole milk because fat slows down the digestion,” he says. “Also, because things like fat have been removed from skim milk, it is a more concentrated form of whatever is left behind. In addition to this, some of the things that are removed may be anti-inflammatory as well.”

But don’t let this information spoil your 1,000 mg/day calcium goal. There are loads of other food sources that are rich in the bone-building mineral, including kale, oranges, almonds, tofu, soybeans and broccoli. (Case in point: three ounces of tofu made with calcium sulfate has 130 mg of calcium, versus the 150 mg of calcium in half a cup of skim milk). Dr. Fenton also suggests choosing full-fat dairy, like yogurt and cheese, over no-fat versions in order to get the calcium boost without the acne-stimulating effects.


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