Does milk give you spots?

We’re back in the kitchen this #TopTipTuesday and tackling another food-related myth, after a request from one of our avid readers, asking the question, does drinking milk give you spots?

Unlike our similar article ‘Does Chocolate give you Spots?’ the answer is a little more cut and dry this time, with most indicators pointing to a yes, but we at SkinMed believe that understanding why something affects your skin is more important than just a yes or no answer.


Knowledge is power

So maybe we ought to start over…

Why does Milk give you Spots?

We want to start by pointing out that drinking milk will not give you, or cause you to contract, acne. However, if you already have acne, or are prone to spots, consuming dairy can exacerbate your symptoms. This is also true of carbohydrates (maybe I should just save us all some time and make a list of all my favourite foods because somehow everything I love is meant to be bad for your skin).

So, as we have said previously, acne is caused by a hormonal imbalance that prevents the skin from controlling water loss. This, in turn, leads to the skin thickening, producing more oil and dead skin cells building up in an attempt to slow down the loss of water; the dead skin and excess oil cause blockages in hair follicles in the skin which lead to spots of varying severity. So how do milk and dairy affect this process and make it worse?


Just look at this cutie!

First, we have to get back to basics and think about what milk is actually for – namely making baby cows grow up big and strong. It, therefore, contains a naturally occurring growth hormone, IGF-1, which is perfect for a young calf but causes inflammatory responses in people, which is what exacerbates your acne symptoms. Milk and dairy products also cause a spike in insulin production, that causes the liver to produce even more IGF-1, artificially making your skin more hormone sensitive, and causing your skin to produce excess oil and increase in thickness, resulting in more blockages and more spots

Dairy can also act as a sort of glue, sticking together the dead cells in your skin, which, when building up in your narrowed, inflamed hair follicle ducts, makes the plugs of dead skin and oils more resistant to being dislodged.

In short, it’s not good news.

So, what can you do?

Unfortunately for all you cheese lovers (myself included) now is the time when we need to make a choice – dairy, or clear skin? Sadly, when it comes to achieving clear skin, cutting out milk and dairy is one of the most powerful things you can do; you may miss your dairy treats, but the difference it will make to your skin should more than make up for it. That’s why if you’re a dairy fiend, we recommend you try one of the following:

Going Cold Turkey:

Entirely cutting out all milk, cheese, cream, yoghurt, ice cream, butter, and anything else of dairy origin from your diet is likely to get you the greatest, fastest results possible, so if you can bear to say goodbye to all of it, this is the plan we would suggest, especially if acne is something that you’re really suffering with. You can either go completely cold turkey and remove all sources of dairy from your diet immediately for 30 days, or you can steadily reduce your dairy intake before beginning your dairy-free month.

Once your 30 days are up, you should be seeing some noticeable improvements in your skin!

They say it takes three weeks to make a habit, so after nearly a month you may have gotten used to your new no-dairy diet and continuing with it may be nothing short of a breeze. If you’re like me, however, and would probably be showing withdrawal symptoms by this stage, you can start to reintroduce certain forms of high-quality dairy, such as raw, grass-fed whole milk, or organic yoghurt and cheese, one at a time to your diet. This will allow you to keep track of which particular dairy products cause your acne to react, meaning that you won’t have to give up everything you love entirely, while still maintaining control of your symptoms.

Grass fed cows

It’s that green, green grass that makes all the difference

Decrease and Enhance:

This is the plan that I will probably try to stick to – in case you haven’t already gathered, I love cheese! Decrease and enhance is essentially decreasing the quantity of the dairy you’re consuming, and enhancing the quality, so you don’t need to cut it out completely. This is a plan you can get away with if your acne symptoms are manageable, but you want to improve the results you’re getting from your daily skin routine.

The main two things to remember when you’re doing the ‘Reduce and Boost’ plan are:

  1. Cut back on any unnecessary dairy you have throughout the day – don’t add milk to your scrambled eggs, and cut back on the amount of tea and coffee you drink if you drink them white, swap yoghurts for fruits, and try dairy-free milk alternatives like almond or coconut milk (which by the way make incredible tasting smoothies and milkshakes). When you are making something that requires you to use dairy, make sure it’s of the highest quality you can manage; raw, organic, grass-fed products are the least harmful to your skin.
  2. Avoid having dairy if you don’t know for sure of the quality, i.e. when you’re eating out – regardless of what it says on the menu, unless you can know for absolutely sure that you’re only eating organic whole dairy products from grass-fed cows, it’s better to simply not take the risk
Cheesy pizza

It may look delicious, but we’ve all heard the phrase ‘pizza-face’ right? Maybe not so delicious now…

There you have it – not such good news I’m afraid, but something to work towards at least; either cut it out completely or reduce your dairy intake to only what is necessary and of the highest quality. It’s only posh cheese from here on out! Even still, removing this or that from your diet and lifestyle will only help or hinder your acne symptoms. Acne is a medical condition, and it will remain even if you never touch milk again; it is the line of treatment you pursue that will ultimately determine the future of your skin.

Acne TripleLock® is a clinically proven skin solution, and unlike cosmetic brands, is medically licensed in the treatment of acne, with thousands of successful users across the UK and Europe.

The products were created through decades of experience, in collaboration with top dermatologists from all around Europe. Professor Tony Chu, President of the Acne and Rosacea Association UK (ARA UK) endorses and prescribes the products for his patients – you can be certain you’re in the right hands.

To learn more about the Acne TripleLock® range, click here.

SkinMed® has a variety of product ranges to treat many skin conditions, suitable for almost all skin types.

Need help deciding what to buy? Take advantage of our trained skin specialists, they know skin inside and out as well as our extensive product ranges – that makes them the best people to ask when it seeking advice.

There’s no such thing as a silly question, we’ve heard it all! Contact us using the details below:

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