Does Cheese Cause Acne? (Hint: It depends)

Acne is by far the most prevailing skin complication, affecting an average of 50 million Americans each year.

In recent times, people have been looking into diets and how they can play a role in acne. Cheese is a part of this research, and it unsurprisingly can cause acne, but not directly. 

Through analysis, we found cheese to cause acne primarily due to secondary factors, such as hormone fluctuations, lactose intolerance, and in some cases, genetics. In many cases, the amount of cheese does not always correlate with the amount of acne you will experience.

To better understand how cheese can cause acne, we’ve put together a 5 step breakdown, along with ways to enjoy cheese with a decreased risk of acne.

Does Cheese Cause Acne? – 5 Step Breakdown 

1: Dairy Products

The question that arises now is how dairy products can influence the production of acne. This question has a very simple answer. Dairy products are primarily made from cow’s milk. 

Cows produce milk to feed their calves. Calves’ growth and hormone levels are then stimulated by the hormones found in milk. 

Hormones in milk can sometimes interact with hormones in the body of a person who consumes it in any form, such as cheese. 

This interaction can disrupt the endocrine system and cause breakouts by confusing the physiology of one’s hormones. 

These proteins are digested and converted into insulin, which activates androgens. In turn, androgen hormones increase sebum production, resulting in more breakouts.

2: Looking at Limited Research 

Currently, there isn’t much research to back up the claim that cheese plays a significant role in developing acne in teenagers and adults. 

Even so, there have been various instances where people gave up dairy and cheese while improving their acne with a simple diet change. 

However, because everyone’s skin is different, it won’t benefit everyone who suffers from acne. 

However, some also believe that developing acne because of cheese is also linked with genetics. Furthermore, before limiting cheese consumption, seek medical advice.

3: Association of Cheese with Acne

A study was conducted out to determine the relationship linking cheese consumption and acne. 

The authors of that study reviewed four different types of studies conducted to determine the link between acne and cheese. 

By the end of those studies, it was concluded that there wasn’t a significant link between acne and cheese, regardless of the amount of cheese being consumed. 

It was determined that there is no solid evidence that cheese consumption directly influences acne production. 

There is anecdotal evidence that people who stopped eating dairy saw a significant improvement in their breakouts. 

This action may have helped some people, but it may not work for everyone.

4: Cutting Cheese From Your Diet

To protect one’s face from pimples or breakouts, one may consider eliminating dairy products or cheese from their diet entirely. 

Conversely, researchers believe that they cannot entirely blame cheese for the outbreaks. 

Many other factors can contribute to skin acne, and dairy is not inherently linked to acne production on the face or elsewhere in the body. 

However, if it causes acne or lactose intolerance, it may be wiser to reduce its intake from your diet. 

Even then, before discontinuing it all together, one should consult with their doctor. 

Note that products are also high in calcium and other vitamins such as A, B12, and D. To live a healthy life, these vitamins are required.

5: Treating Acne Caused by Cheese

If you genuinely believe that your cheese consumption causes your breakout, there is no reason to think that you will need to treat such breakouts with a completely different strategy. 

Fortunately, no special products are needed to treat this type of acne. All of the commonly used acne treatment agents on the market can be used. 

Antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, or hormonal therapy can be prescribed to treat facial acne

To control zits and redness, oral medications can be combined with topical ointments applied to the pimples. 

In addition, an active lifestyle and dietary changes, and increased water intake can be beneficial.

Enjoying Cheese without Getting Acne

Find Alternatives

If you are a huge cheese aficionado who can’t live without bingeing on cheese, perhaps taking a different route to your favorite destination would suit you best. 

Alternative cheese options are now available in supermarkets for this purpose. 

Low-fat cheese, vegan cheese, and diet cheese, for example, are available for those who want to enjoy cheese without consuming a large amount of dairy. 

Reasonable Use

Having too much of anything, good or bad, can be harmful to our health. 

The same theory has been applied here, as an excessive intake of dairy products can harm one’s health and cause problems such as skin acne, among other things. 

To avoid these problems, eat a small amount of your favorite cheese now and then without making it a component of your everyday routine.

OTC Treatments

Make using over-the-counter medications a daily habit. You will need to incorporate products containing salicylic acid alpha-hydroxy acids to accomplish this. 

These ingredients are beneficial and aid in unclogging the pores of the skin. 

Oil-based face products should be avoided because they increase the production of androgens, which activate the sebaceous glands, increasing the production of facial oil. 

Keeping your face clean and dry can allow your skin to breathe. So instead, use natural methods to pamper your skin. 

Because of its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, coconut is an excellent carrier for acne treatment. 

In short, making a few changes to the products you use daily can help you fight acne without eliminating dairy products.

Commonly Asked Questions

Is Cream Cheese Bad For Acne?

According to researchers, cheese has not yet been labeled as harmful or risky for people suffering from acne. 

However, studies have shown that dairy products, such as milk, or products derived from dairy resources, can influence or trigger breakouts. 

As a result, cream cheese can worsen already existing acne pimples. It can also directly impact acne production, depending on the affected person’s skin type and genetics.

It may cause a significant breakout in some people but may not make a significant difference in others.

Does Cottage Cheese Make Acne Worse?

Skin, like other organs, requires specific vitamins to stay healthy and glow. 

Different types of dietary vitamins are beneficial in this regard—these vitamins then carry out their intended actions and improve the appearance of the skin. 

Vitamin A is a necessary nutrient in this regard. In addition, cottage cheese is high in antioxidants, selenium, and vitamin E. 

They aid in the fight against free radicals and make the skin appear healthy. As a consequence, it may be helpful for acne as well.

Is Vegan Cheese Good For Acne?

Vegan cheeses are made from plant foods such as nuts, soy, seeds, and root vegetables. They are available in a variety of styles and flavors, such as dairy cheese. 

Acne may be linked to a high intake of animal protein, according to some research. 

However, there isn’t enough evidence-based research to choose vegan cheese over dairy cheese to treat or cure acne, but switching to vegan cheese options can help control it.

Is Goat Cheese Good For Acne?

According to scientific research, acne can be triggered by cheeses or dairy products made from cow’s milk. 

Consuming goat and sheep cheeses, on the other hand, is not a problem because they do not cause or aggravate acne. 

The human body produces a variety of androgenic hormones. As the process of sebum production increases, these hormones cause acne to form. 

Goat cheese is less insulinogenic and has a low leucine content, which reduces androgenic hormones and, as a result, acne.


According to researchers, some people’s acne worsens when they consume dairy products or cheese. For some people, however, this makes little difference. 

Everyone’s skin reacts differently, so generalizations are impossible. For example, acne is not directly linked to dairy products or cheese, but it can worsen an already bad situation in a few people. 

If having it is necessary, there are other forms available that are less triggering in cases of active acne. 

However, if the problem does not resolve, one should always seek medical advice and begin treatment and dietary and lifestyle changes.

Originally Published: June 17, 2021

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi, I’m Sam Wood, the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach at GoodGlow, as well as a best-selling author for one of the top acne books on Amazon. I struggled with acne for over 10 years, and began studying the effects of diet on skin quality while pursuing a degree in Nutrition Sciences at the University of Missouri. After shifting from mainstream skincare trends to in-depth research in medical journals, I experienced significant personal success in managing my acne. This inspired me to start GoodGlow, where I simplify complex scientific findings into easy-to-understand advice. With over 10 years in the field, I’ve helped more than 2,500 people achieve clearer skin through natural, holistic methods, and I’m dedicated to personally assisting those seeking guidance on their acne journey.

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