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Acne-triggers in dairy

M currently has a bad skin episode.

Judging from its looks, we unanimously agree that the causes must be hormonal. Since he’s also had a few hectic weeks at work, we pin it down to stress.

Stress and hormones – his is exactly the kind of situation I have been trying to avoid for the last few years myself.

In 2012, my skin was out of control for a year.

In 2012, my skin had acted up in a similar way, though worse and more long-lasting. Until that point, it had never been super clear, but never that bad either. It was prone to one or two spots at a time, but it was never anything like it was during that period: covered in big, angry, red spots everywhere, but at the same time so dry it eventually started flaking. In summary, it was out of control for a year. And all this because of severe stress, while later also outliving the original reason itself.

A lot of seemingly clever life advice tells you to reduce stress, but how exactly do you reduce stress? And what if you do not feel stressed any more, but your body still acts like you were?

Since I did not know, I tried all kinds of topical skin care treatments from calming, cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing my skin at home to Microdermabrasion and professional fruit acid peels from a aesthetician. I was not as proficient about skin care at the time as I think I am now, so I did most of it in a chaotic, unsystematic frenzy. In any case, nothing helped, and I grew increasingly desperate.

(And increasingly interested in skin care. My obsession with clear skin is a direct result of that time.)

The saving tip eventually came from a then co-worker of mine. His advice was as simple as it was effective, although why exactly it worked is still a mystery to me as it is to scientists. The point is, however, it does work. For him, her as well as for me:

Cut dairy.

Cut cow milk out of your diet completely. Why? Because it’s full of bovine growth hormones.

Bovine growth hormones result in increased sebum production.

“Milk is, after all, specifically designed to make things grow” and happens to contain hormones and factors that co-stimulate oil glands, which in turn results in increased sebum production. [Source.]

Apparently, my co-worker had suffered from acne himself until he quit consuming cow milk. Judging from his skin then, it’s obviously helped. Since I had nothing more to lose at that point, I soon did the same. I quit cow milk completely, drank soy instead of cow milk, consumed no butter, no cream, no ice cream, no cheese – a bleak life.

(And unfortunately not one I adhere to 100 %. I still eat butter and ice cream occasionally. I’m weak…)

But sure enough, my skin finally, finally started to turn back to normal after that! The acne outbreaks became less and less until they stopped. Which was weird, because milk had never given me much trouble before that time, and the initial reason of my outbreaks had been something entirely else. Yet, there was no doubt. What once seemed without cure soon was under my control again as soon as I had quit cow milk. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. I avoid cow milk at all costs ever since.

To cut cow milk was thus the very first advice I gave M this week when we discussed his recent outbreaks.

To cut cow milk will also be the very first advice I give you, if your spots are big, red, and hurt, if the root of them seem to sit deep, if even squeezing them brings out nothing, (which of course you should not be doing in the first place, but whom am I kidding, I often find myself squeezing myself,) if your outbreaks come repeatedly and angrily, and if nothing, really nothing else helps. Cut cow milk.

Cut cow milk and drink organic green tea.

Cut cow milk and drink organic green tea.

I often despair of ever knowing what exactly affects my skin how. But at least of these I am certain: Cow milk triggers acne, green tea clears it thanks to its detoxifying and antioxidant properties. Everything else is purely speculative, but in conclusion, diet does make a difference.

As I have learnt the hard way throughout the years is that some acne cannot be battled by topical means, and that kind of acne is the most terrible of all. That kind of acne can have its causes in many things, but dairy is dead certain one of these things. So cut milk! Cut it completely, and never look back. If nothing else helped, I think this will. At least it’s worth a try!

Have you ever noticed changes in your skin due to your diet? Have you ever changed what you eat based on those experiences? Feel free to share more potential acne triggers down in the comments.


  1. berit says

    I can second the green tea! It helps me a lot and I only drink a pot (0,5l) in the morning.


    • V. says

      Yes!! Totally! I’ve been meaning to stress this more in future posts: Green tea clears up my skin like nothing else!


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