You might know me as the person with the best skincare routine ever. I was preaching the gospel of “actives” across the intertoobs. Not one to toot my own horn, but I pretty much miracle-workered myself. Within 6 months, I went from pizza face to one that was fairly clear, smooth, and healing from hyperpigmentation scars. Since puberty, I’ve always had acnegenic skin that managed to be both dehydrated and oily. Genetics, right? What a bitch. Finding r/SkincareAddiction saved my skin. I learned about BHA and AHAs, how chemical exfoliants performed better than physical exfoliants. Tossing out my face scrubs (go to hell, St. Ives apricot!) and creating a routine that kept my skin moisturized and clear (no more oily skin!) meant that I could go bare face more often.
And then… this happened.
There’s a lot of contributing factors to acne, almost as many as the number of treatments out there. I’ve been experimenting with some new skincare products in the past month. I know, I know, why mess with perfection? I couldn’t help myself to new skincare! Luckily, no deleterious effects came from the new products. I always patch test and add one new product at a time. That way, I can easily identify the cause of any skin irritation. Aside from a couple closed comedomes, my skin didn’t explode with this level of acne until a week ago. In fact, I haven’t had a break out this bad for a few months. The last time this happened it was because I was consuming a lot of skim milk. I haven’t consumed dairy in earnest for a number of years. From time to time, I’d have some cream sauce, stilton, or ice-cream, but never made the connection between dairy and acne.
Apparently, I am allergic to dairy. I didn’t know that was a thing. I’ve heard of lactose intolerance, but this is a whole different ballgame. I tried lactose-free milk for a few weeks because I thought lactose was the problem. LIES. These past few weeks have been full of fro-yo and ice-cream bars. Bad for the fitness bet, and bad for my face. I should know better.
Should you abstain from dairy for clear skin? Technically, the scientific literature is unclear about this. THERE IS NO STRONG CORRELATION, much less causation, BETWEEN DAIRY AND ACNE/INFLAMMATION. At least universally. For most folks, dairy products are harmless. In fact, it’s one of the best high-satiety foods for diets. If you have an intolerance or allergy to dairy, however, you might want to double check your skin to see if abstaining from dairy products will make a difference. I know it’s hard, but put down the cheetos. And walk away.