Whey Causing Acne? | Best Protein Powder for Acne Prone Skin

Tired of being accused of using PEDs because whey causes you acne?

Yeah… You’re not alone.

Many suffer from this unfortunate side effect, so naturally, many want to know: “What is the best protein powder for acne prone skin”?

Well, let’s find out.

Quick Answer: Best Alternatives to Whey for Those Prone to Acne

Plant-based or vegan protein powders are arguably the best alternative to whey for those prone to acne.

Pea, hemp, or brown rice protein powder can prevent acne associated with whey.  

Egg white protein works, too.

Out of these alternatives, pea protein is the best choice for those who still want to get the most benefits from taking protein powder.

We’ll explain why in a second.

Now, you might read here and there that collagen protein powders are good for acne, and while that part is true, collagen products are probably the least effective products you could use to build muscle.

So, we guess you’ll have to ask yourself what’s more important – clean skin or a massive back?

Why Does Whey Protein Cause Acne?

Whey protein causes acne because it can affect the production of a particular hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). [1]

That’s one reason.

Another reason is that it could also affect the production of androgens and other hormones, which, just like IGF-1, affect sebum production.

In other words, whey protein can potentially increase the production of oil that lubricates the skin. 

Too much sebum can (and probably will) clog the pores and cause breakouts, blackheads, acne, etc.

Also, way too many people don’t read the label! 

If they did, they would notice that the product they’re consuming each day is packed with artificial sweeteners and added sugars that cause inflammation and acne.

Why are Plant-Based Proteins the Best Option to Prevent Acne Side Effects?

Plant-based proteins, such as pea or hemp protein, don’t seem to affect your IGF-1 levels enough to increase sebum production and cause breakouts. So, following that logic, they are a much better option than whey when it comes to clean skin.

It’s worth noting that there’s still not enough research to back up this claim. So, don’t take it to heart.

Another reason why plant-based proteins seem to be gentler on your skin is that they’re almost always free of any artificial flavors and added sugars.

The same goes for all premium whey proteins, but there are some bad apples here and there that are still making it onto the shelves and into people’s homes. So, that may be a piece of the puzzle, too.

Are There Any Best Practices to Prevent Acne While Still Taking Whey?

If you’re not ready (or you simply don’t want) to switch to a plant-based protein, there are tons of useful things you can do to keep your skin glistening:

Reduce whey protein intake

You don’t have to stop – just lower your dose. 

Adjust your diet to compensate for net protein loss, or add another powdered source of protein to your regime, and you could very well see improvements within days or weeks.

Fix your diet

You are what you eat, and your skin reflects it.

So, cut out sugary or processed foods. Don’t drink sodas. Avoid alcohol

Stick to meats and veggies.

It’s that easy.

Practice good hygiene

Nothing beats proper hygiene when it comes to skin health.

And, let’s face it – many of us aren’t all that invested in skin care.

Thankfully, you don’t have to waste money on overpriced creams, hyaluronic acids, vitamin C serums, and the rest of that stuff. 

Just use a mild cleanser and a moisturizer on your face, and shower after every workout.

Seek medical help

If, in the end, nothing seems to work, there are two options you can try:

  • OTC treatments
  • Trip to the doctor’s office

Over-the-counter treatments like benzoyl peroxide have a proven track record in treating mild to moderate acne, which is what usually happens in these cases.

But if you have massive breakouts and severe acne, the best course of action is to consult a dermatologist or your physician.

You never know, maybe the problem isn’t whey or your skin – maybe it’s something else entirely.

Why is Pea Protein the Best Option Over Hemp or Brown Rice Protein?

Pea protein is your best option because it has a better amino acid profile compared to other plant-based proteins like hemp or brown rice protein. 

It is a complete protein, rich in BCAAs, as well as other essential and non-essential amino acids, all of which are necessary for muscle growth and recovery.

In fact, in addition to soy, pea protein powder is one of the rare plant-based proteins that can hold the candle to whey protein in terms of muscle-building properties. [2]


Switching to a plant-based protein powder, such as pea, hemp, or brown rice, could potentially help prevent acne breakouts associated with whey protein.

However, you should keep in mind that none of this is necessarily the absolute truth, as we still need more evidence and further research to know for sure.

But, if this proves to be the case – go with pea protein. It’s the best option!

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