Does Oat Milk Cause Acne?

Written by: Kelly Donovan

There is a lot of conflicting evidence about the link between oat milk with acne. Oat milk is good for your body, but is it bad for your skin? It depends on who you ask.

Some people say that it can prevent breakouts because it's dairy-free and helps control sugar levels. Others say that it triggers breakouts because of how it affects hormones.

In this article, we'll go to the experts and the actual science of how oat milk can affect your skin—for better or for worse.  

Does Oat Milk Cause Acne?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the four leading causes of acne are:

  1. Excess oil production 
  2. Clogged follicles because of dead skin cells and oil 
  3. Bacteria 
  4. Inflammation

Notice that diet and food are not on the list?

That's because there is no conclusive evidence that any particular food can cause a breakout.

So, if you usually have clear skin and then suddenly get a huge pimple, it's more likely caused by bacteria infecting a clogged pore than the oat milk you had for breakfast.

However, your diet may worsen inflammation if you already have acne-prone skin or are currently suffering from a long and bad breakout.

But this is rarely caused by a sensitivity to one type of food. It's typically the result of your long-term dietary habits.

For example, the American Academy of Dermatologists says "small studies" show that a high-glycemic diet can increase acne breakouts because sugar spikes can cause inflammation and cause your body to produce more sebum.

There is also some research that a high-dairy diet can worsen breakouts because of hormones in the milk.

However, the studies are limited, and the results are mixed.

In one study, skim milk worsened acne among teenagers while whole-fat milk had no effect.

In another study, all milk products, including yogurt, showed a higher risk for acne.

And it's these studies—or more accurately, misrepresentations of these studies—that make oat milk so controversial. 

Oat milk has a high-glycemic index (which makes it bad), but it's dairy-free (which makes it good).

does oat milk cause acne

In reality, it's unlikely that one or two glasses of oat milk a day can make a difference to your sugar levels or hormonal balance. 

If you have a high-sugar diet, your acne could be the result of your overall carbohydrate intake. 

If you have a hormonal imbalance, you may have a chronic condition such as a thyroid problem or lifestyle stressors like lack of sleep or high stress.

Some people may discover that reducing sugar or cutting out dairy helped them.

Still, since it's impossible to rule out other factors—skin type, skincare routine, or other diet or lifestyle changes that affect inflammation—you may or may not get the same results.

That's why most dermatologists and nutritionists dismiss the link between acne, oat milk, and food as "weak and anecdotal."

How Oat Milk Helps Acne

While scientists are still debating whether drinking oat milk can be good for the skin, they universally agree that applying it as a skincare ingredient is gentle and effective.

A pimple is a clogged pore, and a very large and painful pimple (acne vulgaris) is when bacteria cause an infection, which leads to swelling, inflammation, and skin sensitivity.

So, the goal of any acne regimen is to: 

  1. Clear out the oil and dead skin cells
  2. Kill bacteria
  3. Soothe inflammation and irritation

Oat milk does all three.

First, it clears out pores through physical and chemical exfoliation. 

The oat husks gently scrub away dead skin cells that sit on your skin surface (physical exfoliation).

The milk contains lactic acid, which dissolves oil and other impurities inside the pores (chemical exfoliation).

Second, it is a natural anti-inflammatory that has been used for thousands of years. 

Historians Ovid and Dioscorides even mentioned it as a remedy for dry, irritated skin.

The first documented use of oats in skincare dates back to 2000 BC in Ancient Egypt.

Today, scientific studies prove that oats are effective for skin rashes, eczema, and other skin conditions. 

It reduces redness and irritation and then binds to the skin to seal in moisture and protect it from environmental stressors.

Third, oats contains zinc, killing the bacteria that cause acne. 

While it can't replace your daily cleansers and makeup removers, you know you're getting multiple benefits each time you do an oat milk skin treatment.

can oat milk cause acne

Is Oat Milk Bad for Acne?

Oat milk skincare products are gentle and safe for acne-prone skin—and in some ways, it's better than "strong" acne treatments.

Many pimple treatments have strong chemicals that sting when you apply them on inflamed skin or cause it to dry out.

And if your skin becomes too dry, your body overcompensates and produces more oil, which will trigger future breakouts.

Oat milk clears your pores while soothing your skin and restoring its moisture balance.

Can Oat Milk Cause Hormonal Acne?

No, oat milk does not cause hormonal acne.

Fluctuations in hormones cause hormonal acne. 

This is why you're prone to breakouts during adolescence, menopause, before and during your period, or taking birth control.

For some people, acne may be triggered by hormonal imbalances like higher androgen or conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome.

This can lead to moderate or severe acne that doesn't respond to over-the-counter treatments and requires prescription medication.

Your dermatologist may also recommend a holistic treatment to control hormonal imbalances, including reducing stress, improving sleep, and reducing sugar, carbs, and dairy.  

Oat milk is an alternative to dairy, but it's not the best for someone watching sugar.

It has a high-glycemic index (about 20 grams per cup) and doesn't have a lot of fiber.

That can lead to an insulin spike, which can aggravate hormonal acne.

So if you're on a strict low-glycemic diet, either because of acne or other conditions like diabetes, you may want to consider alternatives like coconut milk, macadamia milk, almond milk, or cashew milk.

oat milk for acne

How to Use Oat Milk for Acne

If you want to use oat milk for acne, don't drink it—apply it to your skin.

Soak a few cotton pads or a thin towel with milk, and leave it on your skin for a few minutes.

You can also use it as a bath soak to relieve body acne or mix it with honey or other ingredients for a soothing face mask.  

Here are some tips include oat milk in your skincare routine and choose the right products.

Use Oat Milk With Simple Ingredients

Avoid products with many ingredients or chemicals when you have acne since you never know which one can irritate your skin or aggravate your breakouts.

You can make your own oat milk by mixing 1 cup of rolled oats with four cups of water and then blending at high speed until you get a creamy consistency. 

Strain the mixture through a thin towel, t-shirt, or a fine-mesh strainer.

Here's a video that walks through the process:

You can also buy oat milk, but check the label to ensure it's not loaded with chemicals that can irritate your skin.

Here are our recommended brands:

Willa's Unsweetened Original Oat Milk

It only uses four organic ingredients, so you know it's clean and safe for sensitive skin.

It also uses whole oats for better exfoliation.

Drinking it isn't so bad either—it has minimal sugar, so it won't trigger acne-like other milk.

willas oat milk
thrive market oat milk

This is certified organic and non-GMO and free of preservatives, dyes, and color additives.

You'll also be happy to know that it's vegan and low-glycemic if you plan to drink it.

Elmhurst 1925 Milked Oat Unsweetened Oat Milk

elmhurst oat milk

This is one of the most popular oat milk brands on Amazon, with over a thousand reviews and a 4.5-star rating.

It only has two ingredients, is vegan, gluten-free, and does not have gums or emulsifiers. The only downside is that it doesn't use organic oats.

Try Skincare Products Made With Oat Milk

Oat milk is such an effective skincare ingredient that beauty companies, large and small, have included it in their beauty products. Here are some gentle acne-friendly products made with oat milk that we love.  

Sweet Chef Oat Milk Latte Cleanser

This gentle cleanser removes dirt and makeup while soothing the skin with oat milk and oat kernel flour.

Vitamin B12 and hyaluronic acid moisturize the skin and strengthen the skin barrier.

Sweet Chef Oat Milk Latte Cleanser

Pixi Milky Tonic

Apply this toner after cleanser to rebalance and hydrate your skin.

Aside from oat extract, it also contains jojoba milk and botanicals that heal damaged skin and restore your healthy glow.

Pixi Milky Tonic

Aveeno Calm and Restore Cleanser

Aveeno is known for its gentle and dermatologist-approved skincare products, so this is a good bet for sensitive skin.

The cleanser cleans and hydrates the skin and is certified hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic.

It does not contain fragrances, dyes, sulfates, parabens, alcohol, and phthalates.

Aveeno Calm and Restore Cleanser

Test on Small Areas of Your Skin First

We've personally tried these oat milk skincare products and DIY treatments and found them very gentle for acne-prone skin.

However, everyone's skin is different, and acne or acne treatments may make your skin more sensitive.

To be safe, always test products on small areas of your skin before applying them to your whole face.


At the end of the day, there's isn't much data to show that oat milk itself causes acne.

However, you need to be aware of any allergies or intolerances you have before adding oat milk to your skincare routine.

About the Author

Kelly Donovan is a freelance writer. She enjoys helping people reach their wellness goals by educating them about how food plays a role in their health.