I’m pretty open about the struggles I’ve had with my skin. Particularly when I got into my early twenties at university. This was really when things were at their worst. I took antibiotics for a long period of time, which did their thing but I was never ‘out of the woods’.
Working part-time in a beauty product shop, I of course spent a lot of time not only scrutinising other people’s skin, but also my own.
And I didn’t just spend time. I spent money on any product that would promise me the one thing I was looking for…clear skin.
Until about 4 years ago, I can’t say I had things under control but I would go through periods of good skin days and then with them came the bad skin days. I accounted these bad days to stressful weeks at work, eating poorly, ‘time of the month’ and not exercising enough.
This was also about the time when I was fed up. It seemed absurd to me that I was about to enter my thirties with breakouts still being an issue. So I started researching into this further.
Based on the kinds of breakouts I was seeing, I looked at what this could mean. Now, the Internet is a powerful tool and while scrolling through pages, it’s important to keep that salt shaker nearby to throw a bit every now and again. However, there seemed to be a lot of information to suggest that breakouts on jaw, chin and generally the lower part of the face (also referred to as the ‘surgical mask’) are hormone-related.
Now, I’m comfortable sharing that I’ve been on the contraceptive pill for quite some time. This was actually a measure I took to combat my skin, with a pill that was ‘skin-friendly’. So despite my hormones being medically controlled, there was obviously still something else out of balance.
When looking at treatments for hormonal breakouts/acne, a lot of sources suggested giving up dairy. Now there aren’t a lot of clinical studies showing a direct link to dairy and acne, but given the hormones which are added to milk products and then ingested, it makes sense to me that these can cause imbalances in the body.
‘Gut health’ is the buzz du jour and of all the trends, the ‘body is a temple’ theory that what you put in your body will show on your face, is actually one that I can get behind. But every body is different, so there isn’t a one diet fits all model.
Interestingly, as a newborn I rejected milk for the first 2 weeks and only took to it just before the doctors diagnosed me as lactose intolerant.
So, cutting that long story short, I decided to give up dairy. I’ve never been a lover of cheese but had been happily sipping milky coffees and eating yoghurt with fruit to my heart’s content. At that time the only mainstream non-dairy milk was soya so that was my coffee substitute. I cut out yoghurt, cheese and cream completely. I’m not saying I saw an overnight difference as some other articles might claim. However within 6 months, I can say that the painful, under the skin spots along my jaw were much more infrequent. My skin was also less red and blotchy.
Now a dairy-free life wasn’t the only factor here but it definitely helped. I also became a lot less stressed and my overall happiness increased- so this could be a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario, if you catch my drift.
So 4 years later both my skin and the non-dairy aisle have vastly improved. Oatly is the only thing I put in my coffee and I love a coconut milk yoghurt for breakfast. While I don’t rule out cheese 100% now and introduce it occasionally (I need pizza and grated parmesan on my pasta) I don’t go crazy.
If hormonal breakouts are something you’re experiencing, try switching dairy out. But do your research and if your skin is getting you down, speak to a medical professional.