I Gave Up Dairy For a Month and Nothing Happened

Since turning 30, um, a year and a half ago, I've been on a mission to finally rid myself of the acne that has been plaguing me since 13. I've changed up my skin care routine, swapping my physical exfoliant for a chemical one, in addition to cutting down the number of times I use it to twice a week. I've tried weaning my skin off of benzoyl peroxide and using a rosehip oil as an alternative every other night. I've switched up my birth control, made a conscious effort to drink more water, and take regular make up breaks.

While my acne has never been super bad, it's always been pretty consistent. For the most part, thanks to makeup and more so the healing brush tool, I never let anyone see it here. I've actually been photoshopping acne out of my life for 18 years.

Several months ago my sister sent me an article about how a person gave up dairy for a month and their skin was completely transformed - do a quick search and you can find of number of such accounts - clear, glowing skin after a few weeks and I'll I'd have to do was ditch dairy.

But I love cheese. I mean, I LOVE cheese. I'm the kinda girl who goes into Whole Foods and spends $30 on two pieces of cheese... I can just close my eyes and think about that Mightnight Moon Gouda... Of course it's not just cheese - it's my morning coffee, yogurt, ice cream, and present in 90% of menu items in any restaurant which isn't asian. So I delayed the experiment until I could come up with a month when I'd miss dairy the least, and landed on October.

The good news is that dairy alternatives are extremely popular right now, and while I simply couldn't get used to almond milk in my normal cup of coffee, in a sweet speciality latté at my local coffee shop, I barely noticed a difference. Then I ended up being sick last month and drinking tea everyday for nearly three weeks. Coffee problem solved.

Eating ice cream out is pretty much exclusively dairy, unless you happen to live near a place specializing in vegan treats. I wasn't about to deprive myself of a single lick of my favorites over the summer, which was a big factor in my October decision. However there were still plenty of warm nights when ice cream was in order. Thankfully there was SO Delicious chocolate truffle cashew ice cream, and it tastes nearly as good as the dairy stuff. The price tag on the other hand, is a far cry from a Bryers two for $5 sale.

Cheese of course was the hardest thing to eliminate, since it's pretty much my go-to snack, and I'll put it in pretty much everything. No pizza, no mac and cheese, no salads with feta or goat, no grilled cheese; not realizing how overwhelmingly present cheese is in food dishes really made eating out an issue.

One thing I did not give up was butter. I tried to avoid it when I could, but it's butter. I wasn't about to decline a slice of apple pie because the crust was made with butter!

Now my month is up, and as for my skin, it's definitely not glowing. As usual I consistently got whiteheads throughout the month. First on my right cheek, then my left, and finally on my jawline. The last one cleared up on Saturday. A new one has not appeared... yet. The true test would be to continue to abstain from dairy and see what happens. If I went another month and didn't breakout at all, I might have something conclusive. But I ate pizza last night because I really wanted pizza. I'll see what happens. Though unlike some people who tried this experiment, I experienced no ill effects from that pizza. No stomach ache or bloating or sign from my body screaming "no! dairy is bad!" All I experienced was the deliciousness of cheese I've been missing.

And no, there are not any before and after photos, just my usual, with blemishes removed.

 striped shirt, distressed jeans, red flats, navy fedora, leopard clutch-9 striped shirt, distressed jeans, red flats, navy fedora, leopard clutch-6 striped shirt, distressed jeans, red flats, navy fedora, leopard clutch-1 striped shirt, distressed jeans, red flats, navy fedora, leopard clutch-10 striped shirt, distressed jeans, red flats, navy fedora, leopard clutch-3 striped shirt, distressed jeans, red flats, navy fedora, leopard clutch-4 striped shirt, distressed jeans, red flats, navy fedora, leopard clutch-5 striped shirt, distressed jeans, red flats, navy fedora, leopard clutch
The Rundown
Skinny Boyfriend Jeans Old Navy similar
Striped Shirt L.L. Bean thrifted
Red Lace-up Flats Old Navy similar
Leopard Clutch Clare Vc/o Shopbop
Navy Fedora J.Crew similar
Watch "Classic Sheffield" c/o Daniel Wellington
Diamond Chip Ring c/o Crown Jewelry



  1. Honestly, I think anyone who claims you can eliminate a certain food group to miraculously fix your skin is either lying or selling something. In fact, most of the people I know who consistently struggle with their skin are vegan. Dairy is not the bad guy and, even if it were, would it really be worth it to give up cheese? I admit, I don't eat a ton of cheese on a day-to-day basis but there is no way I could live without Greek yogurt, I basically put it in and on everything. And my one or twice a month indulgence in basically an entire wheel of Boursin to myself is just not something I'd ever give up. I think we all have a thing we Photoshop, or want to - for me, it's the fine lines around my mouth that show up when I smile. I've had them forever and there's nothing I can do to get rid of them, but if Photoshopping makes me feel better, then that's what I'll do, and I don't believe there's any shame in it.

  2. I personally am not convinced that giving up dairy (or anything else really, not to mention using this cream or that face wash) will completely clear up my skin - it just sounds too good to be true. Also, I seriously think I would rather have skin troubles (which I do!) than give up cheese! Legitimately, I don't think I could quit with the cheese.

    Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

  3. Well, at least you tried it, because otherwise you'd never have known!!
    I know we have to try an elimination diet for my hubby because of some esophageal issues, but he's not excited for it AT ALL!!

  4. Love the leopard with stripes!!!!
    And yea....I think it works for some people, others it doesn't. But now you know that dairy isn't the issue so you can keep enjoying all that cheese (eeeew ;) )

  5. I love how honest you were with this. Thank you!

  6. I don't eat a huge amount of cheese and only have nut milk so overall there's very little dairy in my diet. The thing that make a difference for me was giving up added sugar, now that improved my skin a lot. It is not perfect I still have dark spots but the pimples are not as frequent, also with cutting sugar I noticed weight loss. Unfortunately added sugar is in so many things, so it does take an effort to have a cleaner less processed diet. Your skin always look great and yes the healing brush is a great help to me as well lol.


  7. As a fellow lover of all things dairy, I was glad to hear that your skin didn't magically get better without dairy. (Although I'm sorry you went through all that cheese-deprivation for nothing!) I'm not sure I could give it up--you know how I feel about ice cream, and I also LOVE cheese. I'm kind of an "everything in moderation" person--I just try not to overdo it, although even that happens in moderation too :)

  8. Sorry but you can't just give up dairy for month and expect your skin to clear. If it does cause you a problem then you need to repopulate your gut bacteria to sort the problem and I would suggest that anybody that has a skin issue takes a probiotic that being said if you continue to eat sugar its a waste of time. Probiotics won't work with sugar in the gut. Also have you looked at your overall hormone balance - this can wreck havoc on the skin but requires the assistance of good holistic doctor and not the kind that just hands our pills.

  9. I love this post, and thank you for your honesty. I have struggled with my skin since I turned 30. I never had an issue prior to that. I tried proactive and a slew of other anti acne treatments and nothing worked. Within the past year I have developed a very strict skin regimen, probiotics as well as a low dose antibiotic, prescription strength retinol coupled with NEVER picking my face anymore (that was a huge issue for me) has cleared up my skin completely. I too was someone that would have one cystic pimple that would take sometimes weeks to clear up and as soon as that was gone, another would take it's place. I can't remember the last time I had a pimple. So I am not sure if it is the anti-biotic, pro-biotic, any of the skin products, the retinol, or not picking, but something is working and I am not willing to quit any of it. God bless you for being able to go a month without dairy, I could never do it. Truthfully, I never want to have a cheeseless existence!

    xx, Elise

  10. Hey have you ever thought of trying Curology? I think I've used it for the past three months now. You send them photos and a dermatologist or NP prescribes a custom formula, which they ship to you for around $20/month. My skin problems are a bit different from yours (mostly blackheads and an occasional cyst) but it's worked really well for me. I can even go out without my bb cream now if I feel like it!

  11. You look amazing! That hat and the clutch such a brillant combo!!

  12. Acne issues can really be hard. I've dealt with it for years too and the only way I could get rid of it was medication. I hope you find something that works for you one day!

  13. I saw a lot of benefits from eliminating dairy from my diet. While it didn't eliminate all my acne it helped tremendously. Interestingly, the time my skin was best was when I spent a month in Greece. We ended up eating meat most of the time we were there, but my skin was completely clear except for a couple travel related zits. (They have super restrictive laws on hormones for livestock and other things for food.) So for me, skin issues are heavily diet related. I should note that I still do have goat cheese on occasion and my body does not have any reaction to that (technically speaking, cow's diary has a certain hormone in it that the human body has trouble digesting, lamb and goat cheeses don't so they are easier to break down). Of course, for some people it isn't diet. It can also be hormones. Between makeup and various other products we can cause disruptions in our hormones, which can sometimes lead to breakouts. Since no one's body is the same there is no way to know unless you work through it by trial and error (and from experience, it can sometimes take a while for the benefits of eliminating dairy to show up). For me, I've found that it is a mix of what I eat, eliminating hormonal beauty products (artificial fragrances is a big one), and making sure my skin gets the nutrients it needs. I still have some acne, but it is not half as bad as it was in the past, and I've never done a medication. My skin would be at its best if I were on certain skincare products, but I don't have the money for that now. Sorry for the mouthful, but I totally feel your frustration. I've dealt with this ever since I was a teenager and always had people trying to offer me solutions. This is my experience, but I've found that every person needs to find their own solution. So I encourage you to keep looking for a solution (whatever it might be) and know that you can find some relief, but it just takes time. And you are beautiful either way, dear. Acne or not. <3
    Thanks for joining the Thursday Moda Link up!

  14. Oh wow I never noticed or even imagined you had acne... I had acne in my twenties and after months of otc medications I went to the dermatologist. I took Roacutane for about 6 months and my skin cleared up in an amazing way and my acne never came back. These are super expensive and have probable side effects that I did not know about when I was taking them... As for dairy, I stopped drinking milk about three months ago but cannot give up cheese or ice cream either.