From Cheese Pizza to Zits: One Girl's Struggle with Dairy Breakouts
By Mia Pinjuh
When it comes to famous couples, forget Jack and Rose on the raft or Ross and Rachel’s on-again-off-again tango. To me, high above these trivial romances, cast in a golden glow, is the eternal marriage of beer and pizza. Has there ever been a more perfect union?
I am well aware, thank you, of the optimal skin diet. Yes, handfuls of leafy greens. Of course, good fats and slabs of grilled salmon. Nuts! Absolutely no refined sugar. And dairy? Forget about it. Sometimes, because I am a human adult, I don’t feel like being virtuous. Maybe I’ve had a long day, maybe it’s just convenient, or maybe I simply want a dollar slice glowing with cheese oil and chased with an icy beer. Unfortunately, along with a ravenous appetite and very little self-control, I have been blessed with a complexion that absolutely loathes dairy and seeing as the aforementioned slice is loaded down with cheese of unspecified origin, it usually means that my skin pays the price the next morning.
My dairy breakouts are usually hallmarked by a sudden crop of bumps along my cheeks and forehead, usually areas I have no issues with. (It’s rare that my skin reacts to my pizza spree with a single large zit, but when it does it’s way easier to treat with the help of a ZitSticka KILLA.) My bounce-back technique is typically mainlining raw salads and dabbing salicylic acid on the trouble spots while pondering if cheesy bliss was all worth it. This usually does the trick, and my skin will clear up rather quickly. But, it did take several mornings of waking up with a mysterious breakout for me to make the link between my late-night paper plate dinner and the state of my face.
While the science and research linking acne and dairy is, shall we say, spotty at best, there is anecdotal evidence from those who have eliminated dairy and noticed a remarkable difference in their breakouts. The American Academy of Dermatology has published several studies on the links between zits and what we eat. “Based on the studies we now have available, the evidence suggests that diet does play a role in acne,” said Whitney P. Bowe, a board-certified dermatologist. Skim milk seems to be the worst offender when it comes to which dairy products wreak most havoc on skin, with the culprits possibly being the hormones and growth factors added to the milk. Another theory is that milk disrupts our insulin levels which shows up on our skin in the form of aggravated acne or breakouts. Realizing that my vice has consequences was a moment of some soul-searching. Sure, it’s downright nauseating to contemplate a glass of milk with my meals now that I am an adult with student loans. But cheese. Cheese was a different story. It’s everywhere I look, tempting me in its many forms. I am proud to say that I have reached a moment of zen-like self-acceptance with regard to my indulgences. I’m making my pizza nights rare and treasuring the moment while it lasts, comforted by the knowledge that I have a strategy to deal with the fallout. After all, what is life without simple pleasures (and failsafe products to lean on?).
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