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No Milk = No Spots. Coincidence?

Ruth Crilly A Model Recommends

Look, I just want to put this out there. There’s no risk-free way, at present, of me proving or disproving this little theory I’ve come up with, but I have convinced myself that it’s true and so I want to share. This isn’t intended to be a scaremongering session by any means, I’m just interested to hear your thoughts and own experiences.

You’ll know, if you’re a regular reader, that I suffered quite badly with breakouts on my jawline and then cheeks from about mid-August until mid-December last year. Various skin treatments did help to keep my skin clear at various points, and I will hold up La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo as one of my heros, but it was quite a dire situation. Model + Temperamental Skin = Disaster. Now, here’s where things get interesting. On the 22nd December, I had my last drink of milk. I think it may have been a hot chocolate (naughty!) but whatever it was, that was the last time that cow’s milk, in its milky, liquid form (ie not cheese or yoghurt) passed my lips. Do you know when I last had a spot? Can you guess?

Ten thousand points to all of those who guessed “22nd December” – you guessed correctly! The thing is, I’m not saying that my skin cleared up tremendously since then, I’m actually saying that IT IS PERFECTLY CLEAR. Better, I think, than it has ever been. I had some quite deep marking on my face, and have been working on that (post upcoming), but in terms of breakouts, spots, even tiny pimples: nothing. It’s nothing short of miraculous, is what it is, and the only thing I can think of that has changed is that I’m not drinking milk.

I worked it out when I was in America; I was looking at a menu in a diner and thinking about the breakfast video that I did (see here) and lamenting the absence of porridge. (I know it’s a weird thing to miss, but when you’ve done pancakes and eggs and all that kind of thing for over ten days you become a little homesick.) I realised that I hadn’t eaten porridge since before the 22nd – and that’s a whole half pint of milk a day that I hadn’t consumed. Add to that the fact that I hadn’t had any hot chocolate (my winter vice; I make it at home with Green & Blacks as a treat) and that my yoghurt consumption had probably more than halved, and you have something of a situation. (Read the next bit as though Carrie Bradshaw from SATC is saying it): Was Milk Breaking Me Out? Had my relationship with Milk come to an end?

It could, of course, all be psychosomatic. Perhaps I had looked so hard for a cause of my breakouts that I had invented one and the subsequent relief had made my skin clear up. Perhaps it was the sun (but skin is still clear), perhaps it was lack of stress (almost certain this is also a factor) or perhaps it was the daily dose of topical vitamin C that I’ve been applying (Skinceuticals Phloretin Gel). But I don’t think so – surely it’s too much of a coincidence to ignore? No milk, no spots.

The only way to really find out for sure is to start on the cow’s milk again. I’ll admit that I’m tempted – the sceptical part of my mind is asking me why I would all of a sudden be sensitive to milk, and I also miss my porridge – but I’m enjoying my clear, glowing skin far too much. I hope to high heaven that this post doesn’t tempt that evil sod, Fate. That would make me look incredibly silly, wouldn’t it?

Comments below, please: has anyone else noticed a link between a food allergy and breakouts? Anyone suddenly went all lactose-intolerant on themselves? Let me know!

You can find all of my acne-related posts here if you want to “follow my breakout journey”. (Ugh.)


  1. I am so thankful I came across this website post.
    I have never been a huge milk drinker and for as long as I could remember always stuck to Almond or Oat milk. Then about two months ago my personal trainer said I needed to be getting more calcium into my diet so I started to drink milk in my protein shakes instead of almond and also about half pint if I had porriage. For about 7 weeks I started to get horrible breakouts on my chin and big cysts on my neck and cheeks. I have tried everything to get rid of them and am even on acne medication but nothing is working. I was driving to work this morning and suddenely thought about all the milk I had been drinking and wondered if that could be having an effect. Put it into Google and this popped up! Unfortunately I had milk again this morning but will as of that I am going milk free again and I will report back with my results.

  2. Hi Ruth, Have you tried goat’s milk yet? Tastes quite similar but supposed to be less allergenic than cow’s milk.

  3. me and my older brother have both had quite severe acne since we were about 17, he’s 25 now and I’m 22. I won’t bore you with my story but i will tell you that milk IS without a doubt the major cause of our acne. After making the link between milk and acne, we both went on a strict milk-free diet (I’m talking literally no chocolate, cheese, coffee etc..) and within a month our skin was clear, and i don’t mean improved, i mean CLEAR. This wasn’t a coincidence. After being milk free for about a year with no spots, i needed to prove to myself that this was not something i made up in my head so about a week ago, i drank a carton of milk, literally woke up the next day with 4 big red spots on my cheeks and very oily feeling skin. Im not saying milk is the cause for everyones spots, but i know for sure that it is the main factor that contributes to my acne.

  4. Just come across this blog and have to say I totally agree; my skin is actually very good for its 31 yrs, however I was struck with cursed “adult acne”, large painful lumps under the skin, not even a spot you could do anything with. They hurt! It wasn’t till a colleague said rather casually that I had “milk spots” that I decided to cut lactose and see if it helped. It did help, in fact my acne has gone. Occasionally I get the odd hormonal/special occasion spot, but NOTHING like before. I swapped my milk for almond milk unsweetened and have never looked back. Now we just need to set up a petition for Starbucks to start doing almond milk lattes as opposed to the controversial soy stuff.

  5. Hi Ruth! I thought I would give your post a read because I have heard about this connection between milk and acne too, and my mother had told me this as I would have cereal and milk almost every morning. It’s not that I have a particular fondness for milk, but I feel that because growing up I would always have cereal for breakfast because it was all I had time for, I grew accustomed to ingesting this drink and now I want to stop but am having a hard time, because like you and your porridge, I have become too attached to my cereal. I was thinking while I ease out of this consumption, I would try almond milk, do you think that is a suitable alternative?

    Thanks! xx

  6. Hi, I regularly drink a lot of milk and find my skin is ok, not perfect. However I came across this post because I am convinced that drinking powdered hot chocolate brings me out in small spots on my forehead, checks and chin. I can literally map a break out to drinking the stuff 2 days previously. More worryingly, I’ve just had my first child and figured that as I’m not seeing anyone for work, I’d enjoy a nice drink and not care about the spots, they don’t stay long. However my baby has come out with baby acne this week and it seems to be clearing up now that I’ve stopped drinking the hot chocolate! Not touching it now.

  7. I have exactly the same problem! Have you tried organic milk, though? For some reason, organic milk does not give me acne. Only the processed one does!

  8. I’ve recently opted out cow milk and dairy too and started seeing an unexpected good impact in my skin! So on a weekend stay at my parents’house I asked my mother to buy almond milk as I wasn’t drinking cow milk and she asked why. I explained and mentioned that I was starting to believe I might be allergic to it or something as my acne was mysteriously gone…!
    She answered: “Oh yes that’s probably the case because when you were younger a paediatrician actually diagnosed that and we would go crazy with trying different milk formulas and medicines!” o.O
    Why wouldn’t my parent’s mention that earlier!!! How weird is it that they preferred to fill me up on meds instead of the natural option of just letting it go :/
    Traditional nutrition believes are really heavy in Portugal!

  9. After trying everything to clear up my cystic acne (including accutane) I finally went dairy free (at 38 years old). I tried dairy again after about a year. Within two weeks I had three cysts on my face. I can’t say how disappointing it is that my many dermatologist never suggested this as a solution.

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