Milk and Spots Update

milk pustules

There was really a very impressive response to my post last weekend about milk and spots. If you didn’t read it, then I can sum it up quickly for you (or click here to read the full post): I realised that my breakout problem had completely cleared up at the same time that I stopped drinking so much milk. I had been drinking a half pint every day either on cereal or mixed into my porridge, but from mid-December I stopped. Not on purpose, just by fluke. It wasn’t until recently that I made the connection, and so I wrote about it to see if anyone else had experienced something similar.

Well it certainly seems like lots of you have – I was honestly quite taken aback when I read the comments! There were over 100 of them at last count and they are still trickling in, so I thought that the best thing to do would be to write an update post (this one) rather than repeat myself in answering everyone individually. I hope that’s OK – I also wanted to address a few quibbles and issues that seem to have popped up as a result of my post. So here goes.

1) Yes, the above photo is a picture of milk bottle sweets that have had rudimentary acne spots photoshopped onto them. It’s quite a gross concept…  But just look at those rhubarb-and-custard colours! I’m a creative soul when I put my mind to it, I tell you. Some might say “insane” – I say talented. Move over, Van Gogh, move over.

2) On a more serious note, I’d like to say this: I’m in no way asserting that there’s a link between dairy and acne. I have no real scientific proof whatsoever, and acne is a complicated and temperamental old beast. It can be caused by a whole host of things. What I do know is that when I stop drinking milk, my breakouts clear up. Last week in Paris I had cream (and about seventeen kilos of cheese) and guess what? Whopping great cyst-like spot on my cheek. I just don’t think that it’s coincidence. But although I am convinced that milk is a trigger for me, it might not be for anyone else – it’s a personal thing and I’m by no means trying to scare people off dairy or suggest that they don’t drink milk!

3) I think that it is only really milk, the liquid white stuff I pour on my cereal and use to make porridge, that causes the breakouts with me. Cheese and yoghurt seem to be OK in sensible amounts. I saw from reading your comments and emails that many of you think the same thing. Good to know! Thanks to Meg for offering to give suggestions on lactose-free options – I do think that I’ll take you up on that!

4) No, I don’t miss milk in my tea or coffee because I don’t drink either of them. I never have done. It’s not a lifestyle choice, I just never tried them and then got to being an adult and couldn’t be bothered! I drink the odd herbal tea, but nothing else. What I do love, however, is a hot chocolate. I bloody love it. Apparently it’s good with hazlenut milk and I shall be trying that shortly! (Occasional treat, not daily habit.)

5) I had thought that my spots were stress-related and to a certain extent, I don’t think that my stress levels were helping the matter. I’ve no doubt that it was probably a combination of lots of things, but – see above for latest milk/spots evidence. I’m back to working my usual 700-hour weeks and trying to do everything at once and my skin has stayed very clear apart from last week’s little blip.

6) Skincare routine: I have been using the new Alpha-H Rejuvenating Cream every other night, alternated with La Roche-Posay’s Resurfacing Serum to try and fade the marks left by the deeper spots. Both are brilliant – I have tested them separately, too, for three weeks each, but I’ll do some reviews very soon with more details.

Please do continue to comment and share – I find it all fascinating, and it’s good to get different opinions on the matter. Thanks so much for all of the feedback on this, it’s quite valuable to me if not anybody else!

(Image from – ironically, for a skincare post – ““. Bastardized, obviously, but still. Credit where credit’s due and all that!)


  1. It’s completely true that milk causes acne! Lactose cannot be digested for many people, so it rots in the intestines, the toxins surface through the skin!

  2. I’ve just found this post from Pixiwoo’s blog. I suffer from acne, but only on the left hand side of my face and jaw – I am unsure whether it is linked to endometriosis on my left ovary though, but going to give this no milk thing a go for a few weeks.
    I read someone’s comment too saying that milk is full of hormones, which could also be aggravating my endo, bladder problems and bloating. I would love for it all to be linked back to milk!
    I haven’t tried almond milk before, but have heard that soya can cause problems with endo too, so think I’ll opt for the almond milk.
    Thank you for posting about this, it has been really informative and helpful.
    Laura x | Life and Lipstick

  3. Thats So interesting i will definitely try it but also it’s funny how dailymail posted similar thing today it may actually be cery scientific :) thanks Ruth!

  4. Hi! Thanks for sharing the issue and your own experience. I’ll try a week or two to see if my acne has the same origin.

  5. hi ruth, do you use benzoyl peroxide? i heard it causes cancer and the fda agrees, what should i use? btw are you saying that milk not cheese caused acne. i love cheese and i could easily give up milk but why would milk be any different to cheese. thankyou :)

  6. clare marshall-scott

    Hi Ruth,

    I’ve came across your blog recently after discovering myself that milk doesn’t particularly agree with me either.
    I’ve had spots/acne since i was a teenager (25 now and I’ve tried every different skincare/makeup product on the market from clean & clear, oxytetracyclin prescription, clinque, clarins, bio-oil, everything!) and have never been able to find a cure. I too, found by fluke that milk may be my downfall from not having any in the fridge for my breakfast (I had a good 5+ cystic spots at the time) and the next day they were all gone after not getting my usual breakfast fix, redness was still there obviously but the soreness and size, gone. I thought it was sheer magic!!
    In the past week I’ve swapped my usual semi-skimmed milk to unsweetened almond milk, and I can happily say, I’ve had zero cystic spots. I’ve had 1 or 2 normal white heads, but it’s almost like a different face!
    I think once all the redness has gone, hopefully my skin will even out and be the flawless skin I’ve always dreamt about!
    I hope it’s still working well for you and thanks for such a good blog!

  7. I used to have terrible cystic acne along my jaw line & chin. I never drank much milk but drank a ton of diet soda. I though it was the caffeine. I stopped all caffeine & switched to water & my skin cleared up amazingly. I recently started drinking flavored water & it flared up again. So I think it may have been the artificial sweeteners

  8. Hi Ruth, this was a very interesting article to read, thank you for sharing. I did have a similar epiphany regarding my spots a while back, but unlike yours, it wasn’t diet-related — It’s from my hand/nail cream. To elaborate, I have very weak nails that I moisturize religiously every night before bed, and while it’s helped my nails somewhat, I would unconsciously touch my face while I’m asleep (or half-asleep) and I would definitely get a pimple right on that spot. Just thought I would share, because it is a pretty weird thing to have — And someone else who reads this comment and have tried everything to clear their skin out might have missed that. Cheers. :)

  9. i always had at least one cyst on my face at a time, usually on my chin and then i started getting 2-3 at a time so i went to the doctor who just gave me an antibiotic for 2 weeks to get rid of them which did not help. i went to see another doctor and he said try birth control and i did not want to. then i read this post so i tried cutting milk off and i can thankfully say i have had NO ACNE since! its been 2 months and i also think its just the milk because i eat cheese and ice cream and nothing, but i had milk as an experiment and got a cyst on my chin again! so now im off it for good and have absolutely no acne left! thank you ruth, this post literally changed my life :D<3

  10. Heather Hernandez

    I came across your blog looking for articles about this and completely agree! I am 38 and all of a sudden started getting breakouts really bad and I have never had issues with my skin. I tried different facial wash etc..until a friend suggested maybe I was allergic to something? So I found the articles about the possible links of acne and dairy. One week no dairy and it cleared up amazingly!

  11. Heather McDonald

    having too much yeast in your system can also cause acne before you notice anything and need to go to a gynecologist. not the prettiest idea but totally true for me and a lot of people. Easting a lot of yeasty breads and such can be awful for the skin. I also noticed a strangely dramatic improvement when I switched to NARS sheer glow foundation, which is gluten-free. I have used other gluten-free foundations before and it seemed that using gluten-free brands went right along with the times when my face was the most clear and easy to maintain. My sister lives a completely gluten-free lifestyle, so I may share her intolerance to a small degree. Hourglass is the other gluten-free foundation brand I used, and my skin seemed extremely healthy.

  12. I would be interested in seeing he post on fading the marks that are left after the spot has gone. Have googled the La Roche-Posay prouduct you mentioned above “Resurfacing Serum “…….but cannot find it. Is it the pigment control serum?

  13. You want to know something interesting? Milk in Europe does nothing to me, it’s the milk in America (where I live) that gives me the acne. After a week in Italy, eating dairy as I would, my skin cleared up.

    • Same here! I was in Italy for three weeks, eating cheese, coffee, gelato… All dairy products. But I had none of the acne problems that I get from eating dairy in America. Do you think this might be caused by the fact that American dairy is more processed? Is Italian cheese just more natural?

  14. Firstly, I love your blog, it’s got so many helpful tips!

    I’ve been lactose intolerant my whole life, but have started reacting to it more as I’ve got older, and I know that if I have too much of it, my skin breaks out like crazy.

    The probable reason that you’re not reacting to cheese is most cheese doesn’t contain lactose, or only minimal quantities. If it’s been aged over two years, then it contains no lactose at all, if it hasn’t been, it only contains 2% of the original amount of lactose. The fermentation of yogurt breaks lactose down so it’s more digestible

    As for alternatives, porridge tastes good just made with water, or soya milk (though use a brand like Alpro Organic Unsweetened, which only contains Soya beans and water, rather than most, which have a list of suspect ingredients). Coconut milk can also be an occasional nice change. You can also get a brand of milk called Lactofree which is really great on cereal, as it’s actual milk that has been filtered to remove half the lactose, and then lactase is added to process the rest, and nothing else tastes quite the same on cereal! It’s also a good way to figure out whether you’re sensitive to lactose, or casein (the milk protein.)

  15. Thanks, I’ll take a look! x

  16. In ermany we have a quite delicious alternative: spelt-almond-milk. It looks like milk, tastes like sweet almonds but is based on water. You can drink your Coffee with it or make your porridge. I like the taste but it will depend on each person. Give it a try!

  17. I stopped using milk 9 years ago and stuck to soy until 4 years ago when I switched to oat milk. It’s tasty and works well with tea. AND great with porridge, obviously. No spots, no gas. ;)

  18. I really am starting to think that I’m having the same problem. I have pretty dry sensitive skin that is generally quite clear. But lately I’ve been battling with some brakeouts, as soon as one zit was gone a new friend showed up! Updating my entire skincare did help a lot, though at the same time I started consciously cutting milk and yoghourt (but not cheese) out of my diet. Was not too hard as I don’t drink much milk anyways… But last week I had some again and BOOM: spots all over the place! It’s so bizarre that I never had this problem before but I’m glad I’m not alone! This is a perfect example that milk just isn’t ideal for humans (I mean, would cows drink human breast milk?…)

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