3 Reasons to Avoid Dairy if You Have Cystic Acne

Written by: Carly Sanchez



Time to read 4 min

Hey there! 💖 So, we're diving deep into a topic that's as creamy and tempting as your favorite latte but might just be the secret culprit behind those unwelcome, deep-seated blemishes we all dread - yep, I'm talking about cystic acne and our frenemy, dairy.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love a cheese plate, but when it comes to our acne-prone skin, it's time for some real talk.

Let's dish out the deets on why waving bye-bye to dairy consumption might just be your skin's new BFF. Ready for the scoop? Let's get into it!

1. Hormones and Growth Factors: The Unseen Acne Activists in Dairy 🐄

Did you know that the same stuff in dairy that's meant to grow a tiny calf into a hefty cow could be messing with your hormones? Yep, studies have shown dairy products, especially those derived from cow's milk, are laden with growth hormones and bioactive molecules like insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), progesterone, and androgens. These androgen hormones are natural in milk and intended to support the growth of young animals, but they can have significant implications for humans. IGF-1, in particular, is known to stimulate sebum production a key factor in acne development . It's like dairy is whispering sweet nothings to your sebaceous glands, convincing them to go into overdrive producing excess sebum (oil), contributing to clogged pores and the thriving of acne-causing bacteria, leading to inflamed acne lesions.

The Skinny on Skim Milk:

And before you switch to skim milk, thinking it's the safer bet, hold up! It turns out, skim milk might just be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Why? Because it's been linked to even more acne breakouts than whole milk. It's like choosing between two types of bad boyfriends – either way, your skin might end up heartbroken. The processing of skim milk may concentrate milk proteins such as whey and casein, which can induce an inflammatory response andraise insulin levels, thereby promoting acne. These milk proteins contain amino acids that stimulate the liver to produce more IGF-1, further contributing to the cycle of acne outbreaks.

Whey Too Much:

Let's not forget about whey protein, the darling of dairy proteins that's often added to everything from milkshakes to energy bars. While it's great for building those gains, it's not so fab for your skin. Whey can trigger inflammation and insulin spikes, leading to – you guessed it – an acne flare-up

milk and creamer sitting on a table with seeds and flowers

2. Sugar Rush: Dairy's Not-So-Sweet Impact on Your Blood Sugar 🍦📈

Dairy has this sneaky way of messing with your blood sugar levels, thanks to its sugar content, lactose. And when your blood sugar goes on a rollercoaster, so does your insulin levels, leading to more oil production and more breakouts. It's like when you indulge in too much ice cream or those deceptively innocent-looking milk chocolates, and your skin decides to throw a tantrum.

The Glycemic Gossip:

And while we're spilling the tea, let's talk about the high glycemic index (GI) foods – I'm looking at you, white bread, potato chips, and yes, even your beloved white rice. These baddies can cause your blood sugar to spike, leading to an acne outbreak faster than you can say "clear skin."

3. Inflammation and Irritation: Dairy's Role in the Redness and Swelling Saga 🔥😡

Dairy, particularly cow's milk, can be inflammatory for some of us, leading to redness, swelling, and those deep, painful cystic acne bumps that feel like tiny volcanoes on your face. 

Lactose Intolerance and Dairy Sensitivity – The Plot Thickens:

For those of us with lactose intolerance or dairy sensitivity, consuming dairy is like setting off a flare in your gut, leading to inflammation that can show up on your skin. It's like your body is saying, "I told you so!" every time you sneak in a dairy treat.

The Dairy-Free Glow-Up: Charting Your Path to Clearer Skin 🌟🥛➡️🚫

So, what's a gal to do when she wants that radiant, Instagram-worthy complexion? Consider an elimination diet to see if dairy is your skin's arch-nemesis. Swap out cow's milk for goat's milk or cashew milk, but keep an eye on the sugar content, because remember, too much sugar is another no-no for acne-prone skin.

Acne Treatments and Skincare Routines:

Don't forget to back up your diet changes with a solid skincare routine. Gentle cleansers, exfoliating acids, benzoyl peroxide for inflamed stubborn spots, and non-comedogenic makeup can be your skin's best friend. And for severe acne, don't be shy about consulting an esthetician who specializes in acne for more personalized acne treatments.

Your Skin, Your Rules: Personalizing Your Acne-Fighting Strategy 💁‍♀️✨

Remember, everyone's skin story is unique. What works for your friend might not work for you, and that's okay! Keeping a food diary, experimenting with dietary changes, and listening to your body (and your skin) will help you craft your personalized path to clear skin.

Rallying the Support Squad: Estheticians, Dietitians, and You 💕👩‍⚕️

Navigating the world of acne triggers can be as complicated as decoding texts from your crush. But you don't have to go it alone! An Acne Expert can help you understand your skin type, recommend acne treatments, and guide you on the skincare products that will love your skin back. And for the dietary side of things, a chat with a dietitian can ensure you're getting all the nutrients your body needs while waving goodbye to dairy.

The Bottom Line: Dairy, Acne, and You 🧐💔

So, there you have it, my friends – the lowdown on dairy and its not-so-sweet relationship with our skin. Whether you're dealing with the occasional pimple or the more relentless cystic acne, considering a break from dairy might just be the skincare hack you've been searching for. And remember, in the quest for clear skin, knowledge is power.

Cheers to clear skin, good vibes, and all the dairy-free deliciousness your heart (and skin) desires! 🥂✨

Carly Pilar Sanchez Holding Pro B5 Wash

Carly Pilar Sanchez

Your go-to acne specialist and esthetician based in the vibrant heart of Austin, Texas.  Armed with a unique blend of expertise in cosmetic chemistry and a specialization in tackling acne holistically. With over a decade of experience and hands-on training, Carly created cutting-edge, skin-safe products tailored to address even the most stubborn acne.