How Milk Ruins Your Skin

No makeup, no filter
No makeup, no filter

So I’ve decided to give up milk (again).

Now, when I say “give up”, I initially meant it loosely and forgave myself if I ever reneged on this promise. However, after my episode a little while ago where milk completely destroyed my appetite and my body for a good 5 days, I’ve since given up on being easy on myself and now have a no tolerance (intolerance?) rule when it comes to milk. 

You may be wondering, ‘why on earth would she do this? Milk’s delicious!’ And sure, that may be (although that is completely subjective, ackchually) but there are more compelling reasons for me to give up this devil’s brew than just the fact that it tastes decent. I listed a number of reasons for my newfound hate for milk in that previous post, but there’s another one I didn’t really touch on and that I think would help a lot of people who are having trouble with their skin.

For years, I had what I considered “problem skin”. Sometimes it was really bad, sometimes it was okay, but it was never the type of skin where I could just go outside without makeup on and feel fine about it. Well, maybe I could in high school when I didn’t care about what anyone thought of my appearance (I’m still proud of that one), but after I started wearing (light) makeup, it was sort of hard to go back. Eventually, slightly troubled skin just became the norm and I learnt how to work around it. But I didn’t know how to fix it.

This is where Gavin came in. And boy, did he change my life in more ways than one (naw).

You see folks, although I may be smart (and I am… yep, no caveat on that one), I don’t always get things. And one of those little ol’ things I find difficult to understand is science. And also sometimes marketing. And why people would ever tell us lies that would hurt us more than we would know. I just don’t get that stuff, and I like to think that’s a good thing. But it makes it hard for me to see things sometimes, whereas someone like Gav has the sharpest vision I know (physically and metaphorically) and just see straight through the crap. This came in super handy when it came to my skin.

So I was suffering from these horrendous breakouts and walking around drinking a million milky cups of coffee and I just didn’t know what was up. I was also suffering from dandruff really dry skin and did not know what I could do. Many a tears were shed but mostly I just accepted it and kept on keeping on. It was just a fact of my life, and I think a lot of other people in similar positions feel like this.

But there was something I could do… in fact, there were a number of things. And best of all, they actually worked.

So what’s the problem with milk? Why am I making such a fuss about such a well-loved staple in our diet? In fact, don’t we need milk to be healthy? Am I not doing a disservice to the population at large by heralding such destructive nonsense?

Well, I would tell you no, but that’s just my opinion. In fact, this whole article is just my opinion. But also keep in mind that I went to a skin specialist whose first port of call was to tell me that I should seriously consider trying a drug that would irreversibly damage my skin for life (Accutane). She also happened to compliment Gavin’s skin in the same consultation as I was being told this. Sensitivity was not her forte (charging obscene prices for a whole lotta nothing, however, was). So I don’t really go by titles or “status” or even “knowledge”. I think experience is the best teacher, and let me tell you: when it comes to acne, I am hella experienced.

At this point, I feel like I’m revealing a lot about myself (for a change?) but hopefully it’s for the benefit of someone (or many someones out there). The truth is, if you are having problems with your skin, you probably need to make some initially uncomfortable changes (namely dietary ones) that become surprisingly easy after a short amount of time.

So what did I do?

1. Stopped drinking milk!

The problem with milk is the lactose. Milk contains hormones that seem to ignite our oil glands (not literally, that would be slightly hazardous) and make everything a lot gluggier and blocked. Perfect. In technical terms, milk contains a hormone called IGF-1 that causes inflammation in humans. It makes the cells at the top layer of the skin blocked, produces excess sebum and then creates lovely little pimples. Milk comes from pregnant cows whose hormones are on overdrive. And acne is a hormonal problem 99% of the time. I mean, products can help and of course it is important to practice basic hygiene, but if you keep the fundamentals solid then you don’t need to worry too much about anything else. And that’s just the way I like it.

As I mentioned, science is not my strong suit but I have tried to make this as easy-to-understand as possible. If you would like to read some more supporting (scientific and anecdotal) articles, click here, here and here.

2. Started taking zinc supplements

This is a big one for me, and something that I never hear being encouraged in magazines and the like (funny that…). But honestly, zinc can change your life. Go to your local pharmacy, pick up a jar and try taking one a day. This is especially useful if you are suffering from dry, flaky skin, which I was. Whenever I have any problems with redness or dryness, I just get back on the zinc bandwagon (I can be forgetful), and it seems like everything is fixed. Amazing.

As an aside, recently I have been drinking soy milk as an alternative to cow’s milk. However, I think sadly I am going to be giving this up too. Soy products stimulate estrogen production, and I just don’t need anything messing with my hormones. I think the best option is just to drink water-based drinks (ie. ALL THE TEA) and that’s about it. When I went completely milk-free (both cow’s and soy) I felt great and my skin was perfect. These days, I’m not sure whether it’s because of my slightly lacking quality of sleep or my enjoyment of soy beverages, but my skin isn’t quite as on point. However, it’s about a trillion times better than it used to be when I was a-sippin’ on the proverbial teat (gross, I know). To be continued.

How about you? Have you tried giving up milk or dairy products? I’d love to hear about your story in the comments. Solidarity, yo!

Until next time,

Steph x

10 comments
  1. I went vegan 5 years ago and one of the biggest changes I noticed was with my skin- not just on my face, but my whole body! Every so often I slip with the dairy and a couple days later my skin will show me the error of my ways…

    1. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that! My skin has gotten noticeably softer in general as well, it’s so strange how it happens. And I am the same – I had some cheese recently and saw the effects of that veeeery quickly. I think veganism would be good for me but I just need to give up yogurt… it’s my final frontier! Glad to hear it’s working so well for you 🙂

  2. Miss Stephanie, I am the same! It is amazing how little things like these make a difference. I had yoghurt 3 days in a row.. and boom! Massive breakout. 🙁 black coffees and as little dairy as possible for me all the way. Cheese is fine though 🙂

    1. That’s interesting, I can have yoghurt but seriously can’t have milk and need to limit pretty much everything else! Ice-cream makes me feel sick too tbh, which is probably why I’ve long preferred gelato 😉 Hope you’re well lovely! Thanks for the comment ^_^

  3. Oh my god and I was wondering why my skin is so dry and why I have acne.This explains it all.I drink milk everyday.I’ll have to stop drinking it!
    I always wondered what wa sthe cause of my acne.This is really helpful.Thank you! If I didn’t read your post,I would never have khown!

    1. Aww I’m really glad it helped. Yep milk is like the devil for me, and I never knew just how bad it was. If I start drinking milk again I see the effects very quickly. Sometimes it’s not even just spots, just the general texture and appearance of my skin suffers. Not good! Try giving it a miss and let me know how you go, I’d love to hear it 🙂

      1. I actually stopped drinking milk now,and started to take zinc pills and I can start seeing results.My skin isn’t as dry anymore,my pimples are starting to disappear.And this is all thanks to you for this article!

    1. I didn’t know that, but I’m not surprised! All those hormones are not meant for humans in my opinion. I used to have goat’s milk yoghurt but I’ve never drunk the straight milk. To be honest, I’m trying to stop drinking even soy milk so the thought of another animal’s milk does not tickle my fancy! As close to a natural, plant-based diet is what I’m aiming for. Thanks for your comment 🙂

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