Does Dairy Actually Cause Acne? We Investigated…

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If you suffer from Acne, we can guess you’ve had some one tell you to cut down on dairy. The relationship between dairy and acne has long been debated. It works for some but not for others. 

More and more people are choosing a dairy-free diet to help beat acne. But what’s the science behind it? Stick with us, because we are getting to the bottom of the dairy vs acne saga. 

Dairy seems to have something against us...

You may have noticed a rise in the amount of dairy free products popping up in your local supermarket. A lot of people are turning to dairy free options to help with a whole host of health issues. 

Dairy’s initial bad rep came in the form of stomach issues. It is estimated that 68% of people worldwide are lactose intolerant. That’s more than half the worlds population! So while we might have a strong love for vanilla malt milkshakes and cookie dough ice-cream, dairy doesn’t seem to love us quite as much. 

The reason dairy doesn’t agree with a lot of us all comes down to the sugar lactose present in dairy. This is the main culprit to most people’s dairy sensitivity. It’s too tough for our stomach to digest and that is what leads to those nasty stomach pains. 

So what about dairy and acne?

So, we know lactose is the bad guy when it comes to being lactose intolerant, but why would dairy have an effect on our skin? It’s all to do with two proteins, whey and casein found in cows milk. Their main purpose is to stimulate hormones to help baby calves grow. So you can imagine they are pretty strong. 

When we consume whey and casein, they have an effect on our own hormones. They release an insulin like growth factor which mimics the behaviour of insulin. This is what leads to breakouts. 

Another reason dairy can cause outbreaks is its release of androgens. Excess androgens can cause a person’s (particularly female’s) testosterone to rise. Excess testosterone, increases oil production, which clogs pores and causes breakouts. This is why women with hormone imbalances, such as women with PCOS are advised to decrease their dairy intake to help combat symptoms. 

Do I have to ditch dairy completely?

You don’t have to say good bye to dairy for good. If you suffer from long-term acne or have frequent breakouts, it might worth while to consider reducing your dairy intake and seeing if it improves your skin. 

On the plus side dairy-free products are becoming more and more popular by the day so a switch to a dairy free lifestyle isn’t quite as hard as it used to be. 

The best thing to do is find what works best for you! 

Dairy *is* important as part of a balanced diet

It’s really important to stress that people who suffer from acne linked to dairy are having that reaction because they are most-likely intolerant. Not everyone who suffers from acne is intolerant to dairy though. Dairy is actually an important part of a balanced diet and cutting it out when you don’t need to is not recommended.

If you suspect that you may be intolerant to dairy and are having reactions to it (such as acne) it’s important to speak to you GP so you can have a food allergy test.

(Note from the editor: I had a Food Intolerance test a few years ago because I was having stomach issues. I was convinced I was a coeliac, but when I had the test I was in fact intolerant to dairy. And bizarrely onions and garlic!! 

I admit I can be a bit bold with dairy still, but I don’t get acne from it. My nose gets really blocked though and I feel like I have a cold. Too much onion or garlic would leave me with severe stomach pains. 

My point is, everyone is different. Acne sucks and I know you’d be willing to do anything to cure it. So definitely consider dairy but if you are looking at potentially cutting it all together go get the test done to be sure. No point depriving yourself of delicious cheesy pizza if you’re not intolerant to it!)

While you are waiting for the results of your dairy-free lifestyle trial, give these D.I.Y. acne beating face masks a go!

Have you tried reducing your dairy intake to help your acne before?

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