From thick, luxurious Greek yogurt to bottles of silky drinking yogurt and everything in between. It seems a lot of folks love yogurt in some form — fro yo, anyone?
This fermented dairy product is super nutritious, as it’s packed with protein, probiotics, and bone-building calcium. Plus, it’s versatile. Not only can you use yogurt in sweet recipes, but it can also star in dips, marinades, bread, condiments, and curries.
But what about other uses? Advocates of yogurt claim it actually has health and beauty benefits for your skin as well.
What are the benefits of natural yogurt for your face?
A yogurt face mask has several potential beneficial actions, including:
- boosting elasticity
- easing acne
- helping skin infections
- reducing inflammation
- protecting against UV rays
- reducing the signs of skin aging
Is this legit, or does science say “yogurt-ta be kidding me?” Let’s unpack the research.
Skin care masks are a great and inexpensive way to look and feel better. If your skin feels drier than a shedding lizard, a yogurt face mask may help boost your skin’s moisture balance and improve its texture.
But what are the other perks? Here are a few potential benefits of using a yogurt face mask.
Yogurt is a rich source of protein and fats, hence its delightfully silky texture. In a 2011 study looking at yogurt face masks, researchers performed test-tube studies of yogurt’s biological activity and applied yogurt to the participants’ faces. They found that yogurt may reduce water loss from the skin. In other words, it locks in moisture.
In the same flagship study from 2011, the results also showed that yogurt might brighten the skin. Although the authors do not state how they measured this purported boost in radiance.
3. Increases elasticity
Yogurt face masks seem to be a triple threat, as again seen in the 2011 study, the authors noted that yogurt improves skin’s elasticity.
Skin naturally loses collagen as you age, leading to a loss of elasticity. Collagen is the primary structural protein of the skin, and it acts like scaffolding to provide volume, keeping your skin smooth and wrinkle-free. Using a yogurt face mask may help support this elasticity, keeping you looking fine.
4. Combats acne
If you opt for natural yogurt, it’s a rich source of probiotics. These helpful bacteria may combat Propionibacterium acnes, the naughty bacteria that leads to painful, inflamed acne lesions.
In a 2015 research review, the authors noted that yogurt probiotics could help manage acne by killing acne-causing bacteria, reducing inflammation, and helping skin maintain a protective barrier.
Using a probiotic called Streptococcus thermophiles, a component of yogurt on the skin, increases ceramide production. These long-chain fatty acids trapped moisture in the skin and blasted away P. acnes. In fact, the authors noted that applying ceramides called phytosphingosine reduced acne pustules by 89 percent in some research.
5. Treats skin infections
As the 2015 research review reported, it seems that yogurt has antimicrobial properties, meaning it may be able to banish harmful bacteria. In addition, seeing as it can help with the nasty bacteria that causes acne, it may help ease other skin infections as well.
However, if your skin is infected or broken, it’s best to check with your health professional first to see if using a yogurt face mask is in fact a good idea.
6. Eases inflammatory skin conditions
Also noted in the 2015 research review, yogurt may help ease acne inflammation. Therefore, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine it could help with other inflammatory skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, eczema, and rosacea. The skin conditions damage the skin’s protective barrier, and yogurt may step in to improve the situation.
7. UV ray protection
The 2015 research review also suggested that yogurt could reduce the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
UV light encourages the production of free radicals, which are unstable molecules that rampage around, causing damage. However, it seems that the probiotics in yogurt and their metabolites act as antioxidants, neutralizing the harmful effects of free radicals.
Yogurt may help create a protective yogurty shield over your skin that protects against free radicals and reduces the risk of sun damage and the resulting marks, spots, lines, and wrinkles.
8. Reduces the signs of skin aging
Protecting against UV rays and helping skin’s elasticity naturally connects to reducing the signs of skin aging.
The 2015 research review noted that the probiotics in yogurt might work to restore healthy skin pH. Healthy skin has a slightly acidic pH of around 4.2 to 5.6, which helps prevent nasty bacteria from making their home on your skin and encourages a moisture-rich environment. However, as people age, skin pH rises, which stimulates protease or protein-eating enzymes, which damage skin’s health. A yogurt face mask may help keep this process in check.
9. Evens skin tone
Tons of peeps have uneven skin tones, as in blotchy, patchy, hyperpigmented, red or discolored areas. But don’t worry, as the 2015 research review suggested, yogurt and its lineup of probiotics may help even things out.
Choose a natural probiotic yogurt that contains live bacteria benefits from their health-boosting perks.
It’s best to go for a flavor-free option as seeds, pieces of fruit, and other added ingredients may interfere with the application.
A great tip is to use full-fat Greek yogurt, so it’s full of moisturizing goodness and thickener to stick to your face and not run down your neck.
Other ingredients to use in a yogurt face mask
If you’re feeling extra, there are all sorts of other goodies you can add to a yogurt face mask.
Oatmeal. Oatmeal has a long history as a topical treatment for skin conditions, including itching, eczema, burns, and rashes. In addition, a small 2015 study with women suggested that oatmeal extract has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can support skin health.
Honey. Honey is known worldwide for its wound-healing properties, particularly in the case of burns, and it seems that science supports this benefit.
A research review showed that honey has an antimicrobial effect and can calm an overactive immune reaction in the skin, meaning it can help alleviate inflammatory skin disorders like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Turmeric. Turmeric or Curcuma longa is a fragrant spice known for its anti-inflammatory effects. As such, it’s another candidate for helping ease the uncomfortable symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions.
DIY yogurt face mask recipes
Try these DIY yogurt face mask combos:
- 1/4 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon oatmeal, and 1 teaspoon honey to exfoliate the skin.
- 1/4 cup yogurt, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and 1/4 small avocado for extra moisturizing.
- 1/4 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon honey for an antioxidant boost.
It’s a good idea to wash your face before applying a yogurt face mask to rid your skin of dirt and oils. Then it’s simply a matter of gathering your yogurt mix and applying it to your forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin.
You can relax with your eyes closed or do whatever you please for 15 minutes while the mask works its magic. (Try not to eat it.) Then rinse and admire your skin.
For most people, yogurt face masks are safe and pose little potential for harm. That said, if you have a milk allergy, choose yogurt made from goat’s milk or a plant source.
Don’t forget, if you’re trying a yogurt mask for the first time, it’s advisable to do a patch test first to check for any skin reaction. Just dab some of your mask mixture onto your inner elbow the day before you plan on using it on your face. If your skin reacts to it, then give the yogurt face mask a miss.
If you’re hankering for other DIY face mask alternatives, there are plenty of options for you to whip up at home.
Try these plant-based face mask recipes:
- aloe vera and honey for irritated, dry skin
- citrus, lemon juice, and oatmeal for oily skin
- turmeric, lemon juice, and honey to target hyperpigmentation
- coconut oil, avocado, and lavender oil soothing mask for irritated skin
Applying yogurt to your face may help improve you skin’s barrier function, lock in moisture, and reduce harmful bacteria and inflammation.
Although some research supports the rumored benefits of yogurt face masks, more work is needed to confirm.
If you’re experiencing concerns with your skin, it’s a great idea to talk with a dermatologist to find out if a yogurt face mask is a suitable treatment for you.