For the past 6 years, I've had cystic acne. I've tried just about everything I could to get rid of it: expensive skincare, prescriptions from my dermatologist, rounds and rounds of antibiotics, going on a different birth control pill, quitting birth control entirely. The only thing that really made my cystic acne go away was being pregnant--but that only lasted about 20 weeks!
After trying just about everything, I had resigned myself to my fate: I'm just someone who gets cystic acne. That's just the reality. I have extremely oily skin, some kind of slightly hormonal imbalance (trust me, I've always been down that road of tests), and that's it. It's just a perfect storm.
(You can read about my other oily skin essentials here.)
However, after getting involved in skincare, I was talking about my chronic cystic acne in a beauty group I'm in. Another member asked a serious question: have you considered cutting dairy out of your diet?
And here's the thing: I love dairy. Milk in my coffee and tea, hot cocoa made with milk, cheese, mashed potatoes with butter and cream... I love dairy. It's probably up there on my list of favorite foods. I am also not anti-dairy: if you ethically source your dairy products (which I do!), you can effectively avoid any of the most negative aspects of dairy products.
However, I also know about the connection between severe acne and dairy. For some people, dairy can make their skin worse because of the hormones in it. (And note: these hormones aren't bad for you, but for some people they are disruptive.)
This was something I'd always wanted to avoid. Why? Because I love dairy. But I'd done everything for my cystic acne: I double cleanse with oil to help unclog my pores (I recently switched to pure jojoba), I use tea tree oil and black African soap religiously, I buy all the right expensive skincare, and I love a good clarifying skin mask. But I couldn't shake my worst cystic acne related to my cycle.
It was time. I had to do it. I had to cut out dairy.
Obviously, making such a huge dietary change doesn't come out of nowhere. When Forrest needed me to cut out dairy for 4 days, I cried.
So I decided to make changes small: I started with my coffee. My dairy creamer was out; I replaced it with an almond-based creamer from CoffeeMate. (Note: it's really hard to find low sugar almond milk creamers. If anyone has any suggestions that also don't have that horrid aftertaste from the almond, please let me know.)
Next, it was the milk I use; I used Califia Farms unsweetened almond milk for several weeks, but Califia Farms is having some problems, so they aren't available in stores now. I switched to O Organics Almond milk and it's pretty good (except it has a minor aftertaste).
Next up on my list of things to drop: butter. I love buttered toast and I'm allergic to soy, a major component in many vegan butter alternatives. Finding a butter alternative that is both dairy and soy free is taking more research than I had previously thought it would.
The thing that's been easiest to drop, surprisingly, is cheese. I don't really miss cheese (although the sprinkle of parmesan cheese on pasta is rough) as much as I previously thought.... except when it comes to pizza.
Here's to hoping that all this work finally (FINALLY) gets rid of 6 years worth of cystic acne.
Have you dropped dairy to help your skin? Let me know how it went in the comments!