I often get asked if clarified butter or ghee is good for acne and if it’s safe to eat as part of an acne-friendly diet. I mean, ghee is from butter and butter is a dairy product and dairy spells bad news for acne sufferers right? Ghee must be bad for our skin surely?
Is ghee good for acne?
When it comes to dairy, there are a few key reasons why it’s so bad for those prone to acne. Dairy products consist of three key components: fat, proteins and milk sugar. Unfortunately, more and more studies are proving that two out of these three components are responsible for some cases of acne.
The two acne triggers in question are the proteins and the milk sugar. The proteins in cow’s dairy are mainly casein and whey and the milk sugar is lactose. All 3 of these proteins and sugars contribute to acne in their own unique way but it all boils down to the same thing, they all mess up our hormones.
In a nutshell, dairy can affect our natural hormones by:
- Increasing hormones such as insulin and IGF-1 that are linked to acne
- Increasing sebum production which causes oily skin
- Speeding up cell growth which can lead to clogged pores
- Glueing together skin cells within the pores which can lead to clogged pores
- Increasing inflammation within the body
Want to make your own acne fighting ghee? View my homemade acne friendly ghee recipe here
6 reasons ghee is good for acne
You’ll be happy to hear that ghee doesn’t contain any of the 3 acne triggers as they’re all separated and boiled off during the production of ghee (that’s what all the red/brown bits are left at the bottom of the pan are). Ghee is actually one of my favourite acne-fighting superfoods! Not only is ghee perfectly safe for acne sufferers, it also contains amazing acne busting vitamins, antioxidants and gut healing fatty acids.
Your acne is much more likely caused by deeper underlying issues such as gut problems (SIBO/Leaky Gut Syndrome)
It’s unlikely that ghee is causing your acne, or making your acne worse. Your acne is much more likely caused by deeper underlying issues such as gut problems (SIBO/Leaky Gut Syndrome) or hormone imbalances – which can both be IMPROVED by ghee! Read more about diet, acne and how to fix gut problems here.
Ghee is lactose free
Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk, to a lesser extent in other dairy products but you won’t find any lactose in ghee! When it comes to acne, it’s so important to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet as most acne sufferers are sensitive to sugar to a some extent. Excess sugar consumption can stimulates insulin secretion and sky rockets blood sugar levels causing oily skin, clogged pores and acne. The majority of humans also loose the ability to metabolise lactose properly once weened off our mother’s milk. This inability to digest lactose efficiently can result in digestive issues whenever dairy is consumed and as a healthy gut equals healthy skin – it’s important to eat the right foods and avoid the wrong when it comes to fighting acne.
Ghee is free from casein and whey
When it comes to acne, studies have shown that casein raises the amount of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and whey in milk raises the amount of insulin in your blood, whilst both casein and whey have the potential to irritate the gut lining. Increased IGF-1, insulin and digestive issues is a lethal combination and spells bad news for acne sufferers. Luckily, neither casein or whey are found in ghee so will not have such a devastating impact on your skin.
Ghee contains ‘The Missing Nutrient’: vitamin K2
While the importance of this nutrient wasn’t well documented till recently, Vitamin K2 is now known to help protect us from heart disease, form strong bones, promote brain function and even help to prevent cancer.
Many years ago, eating a diet containing grass-fed animals would have provided us with plenty of vitamin K2 but in today’s society, most animals are fed a grain-based diet which has virtually eradicated this vital nutrient from the modern western diet.
While a severe Vitamin K deficiency can show up in more serious problems like heart disease, osteoporosis and tooth decay, it can also lead to symptoms such as easy bruising, slow wound healing and heavy periods!
Vitamin K2 plays a vital role in calcium metabolism. Without Vitamin K2, the body cannot direct calcium to the bones where it’s needed so can result in a loss of bone density and excess calcium build up in soft tissue such as our arteries. You can eat as much calcium rich foods or take as many calcium supplements as you like, but without vitamin K2, it’s not going to strengthen your bones.
How does this affect my skin?
K2 may help to keep skin elastic and prevent wrinkles as helps form certain proteins, such as elastin and collagen, that maintain healthy skin cells. Along with being helpful to reduce the signs of ageing, these proteins are also important for minimising and healing acne scars! Strong links between calcium/ vitamin D and vitamin K2 are now being unearthed that suggest wrinkles and sagging in the skin may also be the result of decreasing bone density as we age. See these x-rays comparing facial skeletal structure of a 20 year old and 40 year old woman! To help keep your bones strong, your skin smooth and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles as you age, it’s important to get plenty of calcium (broccoli, salmon, leafy greens) and vitamin D along with a healthy dose of vitamin K2 (fermented foods, grass-fed animal products)!
Find out why vitamin K2 is SO important in the fight against acne here.
Ghee contains bioavailable vitamin A
As an acne sufferer, I’m sure you’ve come across the drug Accutane before – but did you know that Accutane is a synthetic form of vitamin A? Accutane works by shutting down sebum production therefore reducing acne. However, like most synthetic drugs, it also comes with many unpleasant side effects such as hair loss, depression and sore, flaky skin. I much prefer to get my vitamin A from food sources as a healthy diet is the key to healthier skin and with all drugs and prescriptions, you’re not healing the root cause – just the symptoms!
Because vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, you don’t need to replenish your vitamin stores for this nutrient on a daily basis. Our bodies can store it for later use so you can ‘stock pile’ vitamin A for the whole week with just 1 serving of liver. To get your vitamin A intake up to a level that offers super acne-fighting powers, I recommend eating 1 serving (80-100g) of lamb or beef liver a week and at least 1 daily serving of vegetables such as kale, chard, squash, carrots and sweet potatoes cooked in a bit of ghee.
N.B. Organ meat contains high levels of vitamin A so it’s advised not to eat it more than once a week. Vitamin A toxicity can result in liver problems, birth defects and miscarriages.
Do you suffer from ‘chicken skin’ on the backs of your arms? Find out why adding ghee to your diet can help eliminate keratosis pillaris here!
Ghee is great for your gut
Optimal digestion is one of the key cornerstones of my philosophy to acne-free skin but without a healthy gut and good digestion your skin will never be totally clear. Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid which helps to sooth and heal the intestinal wall and studies have shown that this fatty acid can also decrease inflammation in the gut!
Can you put ghee on your skin?
I’ve recently seen quite a bit of traffic coming to this blog post from people searching for answers about whether it’s safe to put ghee on your skin. While ghee is used topically in Ayurvedic practices for soothing burns and scar healing, I do not recommend using it as a moisturiser, cleanser or any other topical product if you are suffering from active acne. While I can’t find any evidence that ghee is pore clogging, the fact that it solidifies at room temperature leads me to believe that it may not be a wise choice for acne prone skin. I would definitely recommend sticking with EATING your ghee to help clear your skin rather than applying it topically.
Have you found ghee good for acne healing? Let me know your experiences in the comments below!
Peace, Love & Clear Skin,