Is Dairy Bad for Your Skin?

It's pretty much well documented on this blog that I have struggled with my skin, mainly blemishes and excess oil. As a result I have changed not only my skin care habits but also what I eat and drink, which more often than not leads me to the great dairy debate - is it bad for your skin?

Fun fact I am mildly lactose intolerant, I live on the edge (sarcasm) because a life without pizza and the odd bar of chocolate is not one I want to know. Due to acne I have visited a dermatologist a good few times as I have found that when I'm living it up, playing fast and loose with dairy produce my skin is more prone to break outs. Coincidence? I think not. It turns out that dairy products such as cheese, milk and dare I say it chocolate can naturally cause the skin to inflame (due the IGF-1 hormones naturally found in milk and dairy products that contain milk) and make acne/blemish prone skin worse, especially when women are concerned.

Said hormone (IGF-1) can encourage the skin to produce excess sebum which in turn can clog the pores and lead to blemishes. It should however be noted that this will not happen to everyone as no two bodies are the same and it should also be said that we do need calcium for healthy bones, nails and general well being. I'm pretty sure you would be hard pushed to find any dermatologist or medical practitioner who advocates cutting dairy out completely for those very reasons. If you are struggling with your skin and believe that dairy may be to blame there are plenty of great alternatives such as oat, soya and almond based products all of which tend to be calcium enriched. You can also get your calcium fix via leafy greens and tofu.

So in short, yes dairy can cause skin inflammation and of course lead to blemishes but not to everyone. In my case it only happens when I consume mass amounts of milk based products over the course of a few days. If you do think dairy is to blame perhaps cutting it out or limiting your consumption for a month or so (remember to get your calcium elsewhere) and monitoring your skin will be the best route. As always I do recommend consulting either a doctor or a dermatologist before making any major health/skin changes, internet advice seldom beats that of a professional!

What are your experiences with dairy - does it affect your complexion or can you eat as much cheese as you like without consequences? 

If you are interested, you can read all my all about my acne struggles here.