Protein Acne

Does Whey Protein Cause Acne? How To Stop Acne From Whey Protein

If you are a fitness enthusiast and perform regular exercise, you can add whey protein supplementation in your usual post-workout supplement. But does it cause acne?

Whey protein offers many unique benefits related to your health, in addition to helping you with muscle growth and weight management. But it is also known to cause acne.

Let’s take a closer look at what whey protein is and how you can prevent acne caused by whey protein.

What is Whey Protein?

Whey Protein
Whey protein-based protein mixer, which is found in whey liquid, leaves a trace of straining or curdling of milk while making cheese. It is a natural by-product of cheese production and a powerful source of high protein content that contains all the essential amino acids.

Whey protein is key to building and repairing your muscle strength, which is why it is often used as a dietary supplement. It is also known to help lose weight. Compared to other proteins, whey protein is easily digestible. It also has certain effects on your immune system. Whey protein offers a variety of flavors. However, you can also mix it with milk or water.

Can Whey Protein Cause Acne?

Whey Protein Acne

Few studies have been done that link whey protein to acne. However, the evidence linking whey protein to breakthroughs is inconclusive, which means that while whey protein can cause acne, there’s no direct evidence that proves that whey protein can cause breakouts.

There may be cases where whey protein may contribute to a breakout. For example, whey protein can stimulate insulin-like growth factors, increase the natural production of sebum, and thus increase the development of acne.

Let’s Look at Some Research:

– One study looked at five teenagers who ate whey protein. They stopped taking whey protein – and their acne disappeared. When one of the boys continued to take the whey, his acne flared up again.

– Another study looked at five older men. One stopped his whey protein habit, and his acne disappeared after six weeks. The other four men continued to consume whey protein, and their acne continued.

– A third study looks at men and women. They all used protein powder, most of which was whey. Researchers found their acne before starting protein powder, one month into regular protein powder consumption and then two months in without it. At the start of the study, approximately half of men and women had acne. At the end of the investigation, they all did.

The study is not responsive to the difference between whey and other forms of protein, but it may be because the sample size used was too small to show any considerable difference.

It is important to note that when all of these studies can be small and uncontrolled, so we cannot say categorically that whey protein causes acne in everyone. However, these studies have shown a trend – which means that it may be worthwhile to examine whether whey protein is a problem for you.

Why Does Whey Protein Cause Acne?

Protein Acne

Whey protein causes acne due to the way your hormones behave. It causes a surge in both insulin and IGF-1, which triggers a chain of reactions that make your skin more oily and more prone to acne.

The ordinary old dairy does the same. A recent meta-analysis uses a fantastic statistical analysis to establish that for the entire extra serving of skim milk, the risk of acne is increased by 26%. (Interesting side point: a study often found that skim milk causes more acne than whole milk.

Whey is a super concentrated form of dairy products. The average whey protein intake is equivalent to drinking 6 to 12 liters of milk per day. Given that one serving of milk increases the risk of acne, its surprising that whey can cause any changes on your skin?

How Do You Know If Whey Protein Is Causing Your Acne?

Many factors contribute to acne, but there is evidence that whey protein is a key driver for you:

– You started taking whey protein 2-6 months ago. Studies show a slight delay between the appearance of whey protein and the appearance of acne.

– The usual treatment for acne does not work. Remember the study of teenage girls? The standard approach of antibiotics, retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide does not work with them while taking whey.

– Acne is on the back and chest, as well as on the face. You don’t really know why, but whey protein looks like the cause of acne on your body.

– You are a woman, and all of the above applies. Again, science still can’t tell us why, but the effect of whey protein seems to be worse in women.

Which Protein Doesn’t Cause Acne?

If you suspect that whey protein is driving your acne, the solution is simple, just cut out the whey protein. Your acne should start to clear in a few weeks. Plant proteins usually do not cause acne. It is also claimed how vegetable or vegan proteins are claimed to be more healthy than animal proteins.

How To Prevent Acne Breakouts Caused By Whey Protein?

  1. Reduce your whey protein intake if you have acne.
  2. If the condition does not improve, stop consuming whole whey protein.
  3. Look for alternatives. Go for plant-based or egg-based protein powders.
  4. If you are a person in the gym, learn not to wear extremely tight clothes while training or lifting heavy weights. Your tissue will rub hard into your skin, which can lead to red itchy acne.
  5. Shower immediately after jogging, fitness, swimming or any kind of weight lifting to stop causing acne.
  6. Avoid using dirty towels, not wearing dirty sportswear again, or sharing helmets. There is a chance of bacteria or oil accumulating that can clog your pores.
  7. To stop acne, you need to hydrate your skin effectively. Drink enough water to keep your skin hydrated and acne-free.
  8. Use a medicated ointment to treat acne formulated with benzoyl peroxide to prevent breakouts.
  9. If you are a person with acne-prone skin, avoid eating foods high in sugar or carbohydrates.

Possible Side Effects Of Whey Protein

  • Allergic Reaction (If you are allergic to cow milk)
  • Stomach ache
  • Kidney Problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling nauseated
  • Constant Fatigue
  • Unwanted fat gain
  • Gout
  • Swelling up of facial parts
  • Osteoporosis (bone disease)
  • Ketosis (Increased ketone bodies in your blood)


Adding a whey protein supplement to your health is helpful in many ways if you do bodybuilding, sports, and weight training. It works wonders to build muscle strength and repair it. It is even helpful for people who want to lose a few pounds of their body weight.

However, it is known to cause acne. Know everything you need about whey protein before you choose. If you are not sure, contact your doctor first. Follow their dosing instructions or follow the product instructions.

If it causes excessive acne, switch to its alternatives. Also, learn simple hacks that can help you manage your acne problems happening due to whey protein.

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