Milk Thistle For Acne: What You Should Know

Milk Thistle For Acne: What You Should Know

Whether this is your first introduction to milk thistle, or you’ve already heard about it through your favorite social media influencer gushing about it, this herbaceous plant has been taking the beautysphere by storm – and for good reason. Boasting all sorts of benefits for your skin and health, it can be a total game-changer for those of you who are acne prone.

Some may even think, "use milk thistle, acne disappears tomorrow," but what exactly is milk thistle, and should you be using it for your acne? And is it really everything that social media has hyped it up to be? Well, let’s go ahead and explore the answers to these questions together, friends!

What is Milk Thistle?

First and foremost, what is milk thistle? To put it in the most basic of terms, milk thistle is a flowering plant that has been used for centuries to help treat a wide variety of health concerns, ranging from systemic inflammation to acne breakouts – even using milk thistle for hormonal acne, thanks to its anti-androgenic properties. As for why it’s called milk thistle, it got its name from the white veins running through the namesake plant. (1)

Milk thistle has been known to detox the liver (and we all know about how dealing with overloaded liver acne can put a cramp on your vibe), stabilize your blood glucose levels, and even help with tummy aches. Even better, taking this herb is considered to be fairly safe (with a few exceptions that we’ll explain below), which means there’s really no good reason not to take milk thistle for acne!

Is Milk Thistle Good for Acne?

When it comes to acne, milk thistle just may be one of the best supplements that you can reach for. It’s got a host of benefits packed into it, such as being both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory treatment option. And given that it can help detox your liver, too, you’re looking at a multi-pronged approach to clear your skin when you do use it. So combining milk thistle and acne can yield pretty dang satisfying results for your skincare game. (2)

How to Use Milk Thistle for Acne

If you’re thinking about using milk thistle for your acne, we support this but we also highly suggest that you check all of your current skin, makeup, and hair products for pore-cloging ingredients first. Adding liver support will not outweigh pore-clogging ingredients.

Even though milk thistle is considered to be quite safe, there are a few risks that could lead to unwanted side effects (like an allergy). Once you get the all-clear from your doctor,  taking milk thistle for acne is going to be super duper easy.

Literally all you need to do is find a reputable vendor (always check the reviews before buying any vitamins or skincare products!) and figure out your dosage. Research has indicated that when using it orally, a good milk thistle dosage for acne is about 210 mg per day, taken both morning and night. In other words, if you’re dealing with acne, milk thistle before and after going to bed can help you get that clear skin you desire.

Subjects who stuck with this dosage noticed a staggering 53 percent decrease in acne breakouts within eight weeks. Pretty awesome, right? But if you don’t feel comfortable taking milk thistle in pill form, you can also use it topically. Another study revealed that using an antioxidant serum containing 0.5 percent of silymarin dramatically reduced acne lesion count in just four weeks. The bottom line here? No matter how you take it, it’s gonna do some pretty nice things for your skin! (3 & 4)

PRO TIP: The CLEARSTEM MINDBODYSKIN hormonal acne supplement contains milk thistle and many other skin-nourishing ingredients.

Who is a Good Candidate for Milk Thistle?

Now that you know what the benefits of using milk thistle are, you’re probably wondering if it’s going to be a good fit for you. For the most part, virtually everyone is going to be a good candidate for using milk thistle for acne. That said, if your skin is on the dryer side or really sensitive, you may want to be careful when introducing it into your beauty routine.

Risks and Side Effects of Milk Thistle

For the most part, taking milk thistle for acne is going to be completely safe. This is true, except in a few rare instances. If you have an allergy to ragweed, for instance (or anything in the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family, such as lettuce, chicory, and daisies, for example), then you may wind up dealing with adverse side effects when taking it.

Milk thistle doesn’t play nice with all types of medicine, either. If you’re taking certain medications for diabetes or liver disease, you’ll want to touch base with your doctor before taking it, too. This is also true if you have any hormone-related health conditions, such as uterine cancer, endometriosis, or breast cancer, as milk thistle can be somewhat estrogenic. (5)

Finally, milk thistle has been known to cause gastric upset in some people. If you have a history of bowel disease or you’re prone to stomach aches, then you’ll want to exercise caution before diving head-first into the world of silymarin. Some people have complained of gas, bloating, loss of appetite, nausea, and changes in their bathroom habits after taking it.

Other Supplements that May Help with Acne

If it turns out that milk thistle and you aren’t slated to be BFFs, don’t fret! There are a number of other supplements that you can take for your acne breakouts, including both oral and topical options. These include: (6)

  • Vitamin A. Retinoids (a powerful type of acne medication) are derived from vitamin A, but don’t overdo it, as it’s fat-soluble and can build up in your body.
  • Vitamin B5. Supplementing with B5 can do wonders for your skin, but be wary of too much B12, as it can make your acne much worse.
  • Vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant is not only good for immune support, but it’s also great for your complexion, too. It’s better applied topically, though, rather than taken orally.
  • Vitamin D in small doses. Vitamin D is another one of those supplements that can help you achieve clear skin if your deficiency was part of the issue. But, if taken in excess, vitamin D and acne are not a good combination. Therefore, you’ll want to be sure to not exceed the RDA of this fat-soluble vitamin because it can raise testosterone.(100% RDV is safe)
  • Vitamin E. If you’re looking for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, look no further than vitamin E. Just don’t apply it topically, as it can be slightly comedogenic if used directly on the skin.
  • Turmeric (Curcumin). The benefits of taking turmeric for acne are well documented, both orally and topically. We suggest mixing it into some of your favorite foods!
  • Green Tea. Sipping on a hot mug of green tea (with a touch of honey, of course) at the end of a long day isn’t just a soothing ritual. It’s also a great way to help send your breakouts packing, too!

Best Ways to Treat Your Acne

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treating acne. However, if there’s something that we can all agree on, it’s that this condition can be a real bummer. The good news is that you have your choice of ways to approach it, and with a little bit of tinkering, you’ll find the perfect skincare routine for your beauty needs.

With that in mind, here are some of our favorite tips and tricks when it comes to getting clear skin:

  • Take a holistic approach. Most of the time, your acne is going to be caused by a hormonal imbalance. Getting to the bottom of it is the first step in getting rid of your acne, and taking a hormonal acne supplement, can be legit transformative.
  • Wash your face morning and night. We know, we know. You’ve been told this a hundred times. However, using a gentle facial cleanser (such as our GENTLECLEAN Vitamin Infused Calming Wash) both morning and night can help remove any excess skin oil, bacteria, and grime from your face.
  • Start a routine. Now, you don’t have to get fancy here with some epic ten-step regimen. But incorporating even a few products can make a huge difference. We recommend using our CELLRENEW Collagen Stem Cell Serum, which was formulated for all skin types. If you’re acne prone, you can’t go wrong with our CLEARITY "The Blackhead Dissolver.” Be sure to apply these before you reach for moisturizer, and don’t forget to follow up with a mineral sunscreen.
  • Love yourself. Ultimately, this is the only face you’ve got, and you deserve to feel happy and confident in your own skin. No matter how you feel when you look in the mirror, don’t forget that you’re still absolutely beautiful, both inside and out. And nothing – not even a pesky acne breakout or a few fine lines – will ever change that!


Source 1: Silymarin inhibits function of the androgen receptor by reducing nuclear localization of the receptor in the human prostate cancer cell line LNCaP

Source 2: “Silymarin”, a Promising Pharmacological Agent for Treatment of Diseases

Source 3: Oxidative stress in acne vulgaris: an important therapeutic target

Source 4: Efficacy and safety of silymarin containing antioxidant serum as an adjuvant treatment of mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris: A prospective, open-label pilot study

Source 5: The Natural Agonist of Estrogen Receptor β Silibinin Plays an Immunosuppressive Role Representing a Potential Therapeutic Tool in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Source 6: Acne Vulgaris and Intake of Selected Dietary Nutrients—A Summary of Information