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5 Reasons Milk Thistle Acne Treatment Is a Bad Idea

In recent years, there's been an increasing interest in the role of milk thistle in acne treatment. But is milk thistle a wonder herb that can help eliminate acne, or is it just another skincare myth?

While milk thistle may indeed offer several health benefits, there's a growing body of evidence that suggests it may not be the magic bullet for people suffering from acne.

In fact, there are several reasons why milk thistle acne treatment might not be the best idea. Here are five of them.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Despite milk thistle's recognized health benefits, its effectiveness as an acne treatment lacks substantial scientific backing, with possible negative effects including increased sebum production.
  • Utilizing milk thistle for acne treatment, whether through oral supplementation, topical application, or products containing its extract, may yield varying results due to individual skin conditions and needs.
  • Products like Exposed Skin Care offer a comprehensive approach to acne management, targeting the root cause, catering to various acne types, and providing benefits such as improved skin circulation and elimination of dead skin cells.
  • Exposed Skin Care stands out as an acne management solution, combining scientifically-proven ingredients and natural extracts and offering benefits such as decreased acne lesion count and efficient skin penetration, making it a viable alternative to milk thistle-based treatments.

Field of thistles

1. Limited Scientific Evidence

One of the main reasons to question the use of milk thistle for acne and other skin conditions is the limited scientific evidence to back it up. While milk thistle has been used in traditional medicine to treat various conditions, from liver disease to high blood sugar levels, the science behind its use for acne is not as strong.

Although milk thistle contains silymarin, a compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, only one study has specifically looked at milk thistle for acne treatment.

It showed some reduction in acne lesions, but the sample size was small, and the study was not controlled, which means it's unclear whether the results were due to milk thistle or other factors.

Moreover, most studies on milk thistle and skin health focus on its potential to protect the skin from free radicals, not its ability to treat acne.

2. May Not Reduce Sebum Production

Excess sebum production is one of the key factors in the development of acne. The oil clogs up pores and traps dead skin cells, leading to acne breakouts. Some acne treatments work by reducing sebum production, but there's no solid evidence that milk thistle plays a role in it.

Woman putting make up worried about skin oil

While some sources claim that milk thistle can help balance hormones and reduce sebum, this is based mainly on anecdotal evidence. In fact, in some cases, milk thistle may increase sebum production due to its effects on hormones, potentially exacerbating acne.

3. Lack of Regulation

The lack of regulation of herbal supplements, including milk thistle, is another reason to be cautious. Unlike prescription medications, supplements are not tightly regulated by health authorities.

This means that the quality, purity, and concentration of active ingredients can vary greatly between different brands and even between different batches of the same brand.

Therefore, even if milk thistle could help with acne in theory, the supplement you buy might not contain enough of the active ingredient (silymarin) to have an effect. Or it could contain other ingredients that cause skin irritation or other side effects.

4. Potential Side Effects

Like any supplement or medication, milk thistle can have side effects. While it is generally considered safe for most people, it can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea, and bloating in some individuals. More serious side effects are rare but can include allergic reactions, low blood sugar, and hormonal changes.

Man looking at camera with rashes on face

These side effects are particularly relevant for people with acne, as hormone changes can lead to more acne breakouts. And for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin, any skin irritation could worsen their skin condition.

5. There Are More Proven Alternatives

While the idea of a natural supplement that could improve acne is appealing, the reality is that more proven alternatives are available. Many other ways to treat your acne have been extensively studied and shown to reduce acne, from prescription medications to over-the-counter treatments effectively.

Moreover, a comprehensive approach to acne treatment should include not just medication or supplements but also changes in lifestyle and skincare routine. This might involve avoiding certain foods that can cause acne, keeping the skin clean, and using products designed for acne-prone skin.

Exposed Skin Care: A Viable Alternative for Acne Management

Among the many acne treatments available today, Exposed Skin Care stands out due to its unique blend of science and nature. It takes a comprehensive approach to managing acne, which goes beyond just targeting acne symptoms.

 Exposed Skin Care Expanded Kit

Here are some of its key benefits:

  • Addresses the Root Cause: By targeting the production of sebum, Exposed Skin Care could help treat acne at its source, preventing further breakouts.
  • Combines Science and Nature: The products contain scientifically proven acne-fighting ingredients and natural extracts like green tea, which has known antioxidant properties like those found in milk thistle.
  • Suitable for Various Acne Types: Whether you're suffering from cystic acne, acne vulgaris, or hormonal acne, Exposed Skin Care's comprehensive range of products caters to various acne types and skin needs.
  • Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties: Much like the beneficial properties of milk thistle, these products contain potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients, offering skin benefits and helping prevent acne.
  • Improves Skin Health: Exposed Skin Care is good for acne and promotes overall skin health by improving circulation and eliminating dead skin cells.

Remember, every individual's skin is unique. So, while some may find the benefits of milk thistle extract helpful, others might find that products like Exposed Skin Care provide a more comprehensive solution for managing acne.


In conclusion, while the milk thistle plant, also known as mary thistle, has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, its efficacy in treating acne remains questionable. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of milk thistle's primary active compound, silymarin, have been touted as beneficial for various health conditions, from liver damage to cancer cells.

However, its use as an acne remedy lacks substantial scientific backing. Oral supplementation with milk thistle or topical applications such as milk thistle tea or products containing milk thistle may help some individuals with inflammatory skin conditions. However, it's important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all for acne treatment.

While some may find using milk thistle for acne beneficial, others might experience increased sebum production, potentially leading to more breakouts.On the other hand, products like Exposed Skin Care provide a holistic approach to managing acne, working on the root cause and offering a comprehensive skincare routine that can cater to various acne types and skin needs.

They offer scientifically-proven benefits, such as improved circulation in the skin, elimination of dead skin cells, and decreased acne lesion count, and are designed to penetrate the skin effectively. While the health benefits of milk thistle are recognized, it's crucial to remain realistic about its potential role in acne treatment.


1. Does milk thistle help with acne?

While there are anecdotal reports of milk thistle helping with acne, the scientific evidence to support this claim is limited. One small study showed a reduction in acne lesions, but it was not a controlled study, and more research is needed.

2. What are the side effects of milk thistle?

Milk thistle can cause side effects in some people, including stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea, and bloating. More serious side effects, although rare, can include allergic reactions, low blood sugar, and hormonal changes.

3. Can milk thistle increase acne?

In some cases, milk thistle may potentially increase acne. Some people have reported that milk thistle caused an increase in their acne breakouts, although this seems to be relatively rare.

4. Are there more effective acne treatments?

Yes, many acne treatments have been proven to be effective, including prescription medications and over-the-counter treatments. A comprehensive approach to acne treatment should include lifestyle and routine skincare changes.

5. Can milk thistle supplements vary in quality?

Yes, the quality, purity, and concentration of active ingredients can vary greatly between different brands and even between different batches of the same brand. This is due to the lack of tight regulation of supplements by health authorities.