The subject of whether dairy is a contributing factor to your acne problem is open for scientific debate, and it’s still controversial. While most experts will agree that acne can be irritated by traditional milk, how exactly these two are connected is something they haven’t figured out yet. But, is that really important to you? Does it really matter how, if this way or another you need to say goodbye to everything that contains milk… And, that’s everything?! Yes, I feel your frustration. Why must all the things that are truly sooo gooood, must be soo bad for us? It’s a major life decision and includes a lot of sacrifices. So, will it be worth it? Let’s find out.
Yes, they can be. The truth is, acne is a condition that can be affected by so many factors, and each skin is individual - genetics, hormones, lifestyles, and other personal, unique elements affect your complexion. You can’t know for sure unless you decide to experiment, go without dairy for a while and see how your skin will react, and whether there will be an improvement.
However, across the internet, the anecdotal evidence of people swearing they cured their acne by giving up dairy, is overwhelming.
The reason why dairy products may be triggering your breakouts is because of the high amount of hormones in the milk. Cows are treated with artificial hormones that affect their milk supply. And, even without the artificial hormones, just like human’s, cow’s milk is a liquid product produced from the mammary glands while the cow is pregnant, intended for the cow’s baby. Because we are not cows, and certainly not babies, milk can have an adverse effect on our body. For one thing, it’s high in saturated fats and cholesterol, which leads to obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Some studies have linked it with prostate cancer in men, and with ovarian cancer in women. And now, new evidence is piling up, showing that the consumption of cow’s milk correlates to the prevalence of acne in girls and boys. It doesn’t help the fact that according to some surveys, up to 75% of the world’s adult population is intolerant to lactose. This means that if your body is intolerant to lactose, your face is surely taking some of the tolls.
No one can tell you for sure unless you try it and see for yourself. The good thing is, today we have so many tasty alternatives like almond milk, and the internet is exploding with information and mind-blowing recipes that taking time off dairy won’t feel like a sacrifice. But, again, is it worth the effort? Here is what some people experienced, and then you can see what the research has to say.
According to the Insider, some dermatologists advise against milk consumption. For example, Sarika Snell, a dermatologist in Washington DC stated: "Cutting dairy improves skin texture, skin tone, and acne." Rachel Lapidos shares her story in Wellandgood, “The benefits definitely outweigh the taste—I feel healthier, and I’ve been trying to get clear skin for years. I’ll do anything to maintain this glow.” On the other hand, some people have had different experiences, like the one Erin Lukas shares in Instyle: “After three months of abstaining, I started incorporating dairy back into my diet after coming to the conclusion with my dermatologist that I needed an oral treatment to properly control my hormonal acne.”
Anecdotal evidence is great and all, but is there some truth in all of it, or people just want to believe it? Well, a number of studies support the idea that milk is connected with acne development. For example, one study from 2005, found that there was a correlation between acne breakouts and the total intake of milk and skim milk in teenage boys and girls. An article on the correlation between diet and acne published by the US National Institute of Medicine in 2010 advises more experts to study this connection since dermatologists can no longer dismiss the association between diet and acne.
Another study, made on a sample from the Malaysian population has found that milk and ice cream consumption are related to acne vulgaris. The theories and explanations behind these findings are that the growth hormones present naturally in milk can provoke acne formation. Another theory argues that, because of the high amount of hormones in the milk, it can throw your own hormones off balance. Yet, another theory presents the idea that when you combine milk with refined foods and processed sugars, the skin becomes more prone to acne.
Some people swear they saw dramatic results after just one week of skipping dairy. Others give it more time, from 21 days to even three months. But, when we ask the experts they agree that one week is not enough. Approximately, it takes three to four weeks before you see improvements. Leave time so your body can detox and push the effects from diary out of its system. There’s no way around it - patience is key when fishing for new skin treatments. But, hey… one month is nothing compared to a life of clear skin - if truly milk is responsible for your pimples.
If you decide to give it a try, don’t despair. There are many alternatives today, that you won’t even notice you are off milk. Yes, you can even experiment with different flavors and find your best fit. Our personal favorite is almond milk. Why? Well, first it’s simply too tasty! Second, it has similar nutritional content to cow’s milk, just without the saturated fats. Third, it’s rich in vitamin E, which actually does wonders for the skin. You can go and read our article on almond milk for all the benefits you will get, or you can directly go to your local supermarket and give it a try.
You went off dairy and nothing changed, so now you are confused? I’m sorry to tell you that if dairy was the only problem, acne would have been a thing in the past. But, unfortunately, there are many reasons why someone is breaking out.
Unfortunately, acne prone skin is found to be hereditary. This means that if your parents had acne, you are more likely to suffer from frequent acne outbreaks too.
Hormonal changes, like puberty, menopause, or PMS may be responsible for your acne. Don’t forget that sometimes, certain medications, deficiencies, diseases or other conditions can also cause a hormonal disbalance and make your skin prone to acne.
The link between milk and acne may be controversial, but the one between stress and acne is not. The more you stress, the more your skin will suffer. This is because sebaceous glands have stress receptors. When our body is undergoing some stressful situation, these receptors are triggered and the glands start producing sebum. An excess amount of sebum leads to clogged pores and more pimples.
The location and conditions in which you live have a profound effect on your skin’s health. Sun exposure, high humidity, extremely cold weather, polluted air, and other factors can make the skin more prone to acne. If you live in a place with unfavorable skin conditions, find a way to protect your face.
You must have heard about this one. Makeup and abrasive skincare products can do more damage than good, so be careful. Always look for non-comedogenic products, and if your skin is oily and prone to acne, avoid oil-based cosmetics. This goes without saying - never go to bed with your makeup on! Always, clean your face well, before hugging your pillow.
Are you confused about this one? No, we don’t mean actual dirt. We mean, your hands, your mobile phone, your pillowcases, and everything else you let touch your face. You may not even notice it, but a lot of acne-causing bacteria comes from our own destructive habits. To be safe - avoid touching your face, and desensitize your phone.
Anecdotal and science-based evidence that milk can be responsible for your never-ending breakouts is abounding. It’s still controversial though because the underlying reason is not as clear as some people think. At the end of the day, every skin is distinctive, and acne is a condition that can be caused by many different reasons. This means you have to try to know for sure. The good news is, there are no side-effects. What can you lose by going dairy-free for a month or two? Nothing, and you can always go back if you are not happy with the results. If you do make the decision, don’t miss out on the tasty alternatives.