You Could Cure Your Acne By Switching Out This Food

I had tried every product with a spot-fighting ingredient—salicylic, tea tree oil, kaolin—and been to see a handful of dermatologists and facialists who all had different ideas for combating acne. It was confusing and frustrating: I had taken to wearing my hair down like a security blanket curtaining my face, which saddened me because I adored the curated ear trend and had some very lovely Theodora Warre hoops and Matthew Calvin studs I wanted to show off.

One afternoon, when I was completely at the end of my tether, I started googling supplements and foods that could help with hormonal acne. I figured if what I put on my face wasn’t working maybe what I put in it would. That’s when I came across various studies that claimed cow’s milk, and more specifically skimmed cow’s milk, had been linked with a higher chance of developing blemishes.

The Data

A 2005 study by Harvard School of Public Health of 47,000 women found those who drank skimmed milk were 44 percent more likely to get spots. “The theory behind the link between dairy and acne relates to the use of hormones in dairy livestock, which may expose those who consume them to increased levels of male hormones (known as androgens) and insulin, both of which predispose to spots,” explains dermatologist Sam Bunting, MD.

It’s been known for a while that milk is laced with hormones but it’s thought that processing the milk to make it low-fat increases the levels of these spot- causing hormones. Now, I am—or rather was a skinny Americano kind of girl— because it’s healthier right? Well, actually when it comes to a drop of milk in your coffee, the difference between skimmed milk and full fat is minimal.

A medium Americano at Costa with skimmed milk comes in at 18kcal (0.3g fat, 2.6g carbohydrate, and 1.6g protein), while full-fat stacks up at 27kcal (1.3g fat, 2.5g carbohydrate, and 1.5g protein)—we’re talking the difference of a gram of fat, that’s nothing! And when I thought about it I realized I was also mainlining 0 percent Greek yogurt with frozen berries like they were going out of fashion. So, I challenged myself to go full-fat for all the dairy I ate and see what happened to my skin.

My Experience

At first, I really craved my homespun healthy fro-yo, and I would accidentally ask for a skinny Americano in Pret or Starbucks, but I soon managed to knock it out of my vocabulary and my diet, and boy am I glad I did. After a week or so my sore, cystic acne that had sat along my jawline taunting me for almost a year started to ease up. Nothing else in my routine changed. Within a month it was all but gone. I don’t eat low-fat yogurts anymore, and I have rice or almond milk on my cereal or in my post-workout protein shakes.

As with most things, it’s all personal. If you’re suffering from hormonal acne like I was, you may find going dairy-free could work better for you. I won’t ever give up cow’s milk in my coffee, even though that same Harvard study I quoted earlier said that if you’re a milk drinker, you have a 22 percent chance of blemishes. I always try to drink organic milk because I figure that has to be better than the alternative, and luckily with the help of a carefully edited skincare routine—that I stick with daily—it means I can tackle the odd spot that the milk slings my way. Here are the skincare products I use daily.

Foreo Luna Mini 2

I can't speak highly enough about this gadget. It really helps me to cleanse thoroughly and the gentle vibrations give my skin a good massage which I figure has to do something to aid lymphatic drainage along my jawline. All I know is my skin is always brighter after using this.

Frank Body Charcoal Face Cleanser

I use this charcoal cleanser with the Foreo and it gives my skin a thorough cleanse without stripping my natural oils or leaving my skin feeling tight. It's formulated with zit-zapping activated charcoal, soothing marshmallow root, and a blend of coconut, sweet almond oil, and grapeseed oil to help keep your skin moisturized. Spot-prone skin needs to be clean but if you strip the oils through overzealous cleansing you can trigger overproduction of pore-clogging oil.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo +

Super lightweight, this lotion contains niacinamide to purify and salicylic acid to aid cell turnover. This works hard to clear and prevent blemishes throughout the day.

Murad Anti-Aging Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30

This moisturizer has been formulated to treat blemishes and tackle fine lines at the same time. With SPF30, it doesn't just leave skin protected, it also gives it a great glow and texture that's a perfect base for makeup.

Sarah Chapman Liquid Facial Resurfacer

I use this each night after cleansing with my Foreo. It removes the last traces of the day's makeup and dirt, while a combination of gentle but effective acids refines the texture.

Sunday Riley Luna Sleep Night Oil

It may seem odd to put oil on acne-prone skin but it's stripping these oils that cause problems. This contains retinol to repair damage caused by the environment and a combination of cold-pressed avocado, chia, and grapeseed oil to nourish and brighten.

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