Dairy Free Diary Part 3: What Happened to My Skin?

Posted in Health
on August 27, 2017

In part 1 of this series (read here), I told you I was reducing my dairy intake because I was hoping it would help clear up my skin. In part 2 (read here), I talked about some of the things I ate during the two weeks, and how I kind of struggled for ideas, and I wasn’t happy that I was getting the right nutrition for me.

Now for the crucial bit – the results! Was there any benefit to me giving up my beloved cheese for two weeks?

The first few days, I didn’t notice any difference in my skin at all, other than normal hormonal changes I see all the time. On the second day, I went out for dinner to place with a really tiny menu, and I was really pleased with myself for choosing something dairy free and sticking to my plan even though there were other things I would much rather have eaten. And this is something I noticed throughout most of the two weeks; that I felt in control, and it was really motivating to think that this could actually help my skin after all this time.

A bit of anecdotal evidence I’ve read online suggests that I probably wouldn’t notice any change to my skin until the end of the two weeks, but I actually started to notice differences by around day 5. My skin looked less blotchy, red, and angry, and some blemishes I did have were starting to reduce in size. I normally wake up to a new spot every day but, by day 6, I hadn’t had a new one at all!

This experience has driven me to eat some strange things, purely because I was hungry and couldn’t think of a dairy-free meal or snack. Like the day I had 10 minutes before a hair appointment so I had potato waffles made in the toaster.

About a week in, I spent one night planning my meals for the following week because it was just so difficult without prior planning! Even though I don’t ever count calories, I knew I wasn’t eating enough and what I was eating wasn’t consistent. Sometimes, I’d have a brilliant nutrient-dense meal with lots of veggies, and others I’d be eating dry wholemeal toast just because I was hungry and couldn’t think of anything else.

I did find some things that I will continue to eat, because they were so yummy and I actually enjoyed eating some of the good things I found, without dairy! Like one lunchtime I made a frittata absolutely loaded with greens, veg, and sweet potatoes.

Another thing I experienced for the first time was craving. I’ve never had real cravings before. I thought I had, y’know when you think you could just destroy an entire tub of salted caramel ice cream? But, turns out, actual cravings are much worse. I was trying to write one night, but I knew that there were only 3 walls and a fridge in between me and a Dairy Milk Caramel, and I was so distracted by it. I had to get someone else to eat it, for closure.


By day 9 I still hadn’t had any new spots. My skin was kind of oily, and it still looked pretty blotchy because of all the scars I have, but something was definitely helping reduce the spots!

There wasn’t an awful lot of change between 9 and 14 days. My skin had certainly cleared up a lot, and it just looked overall less red and angry. The spots I did have anyway were shrinking so that they were easier to cover with makeup if I wanted to, and I was pretty happy with the results!


As it stands, I’ve reverted back to eating dairy. I don’t think it’s a sustainable way for me to eat right now, mainly because the vegan cheese I tried was horrendous. Like, for the first time in my life I couldn’t finish a toastie.

I found giving up dairy really restricting, and the change in my skin wasn’t miraculous enough for me to cut it out altogether forever and ever.

However, cheese is currently the only dairy I am eating regularly, and it’s nowhere near as much as I used to eat. I’ve switched to soy yoghurt because there is literally no difference in taste or texture. Unfortunately, there is a difference in price, so if anyone knows anywhere I can get cheaper dairy-free yoghurt, hook me up! I didn’t use a lot of milk anyway, but now I’m using soy or coconut milk. And I’ve learned that it is possible to eat pasta without cheese. Previously, I was adamant that this was not the case.


Although not overwhelming, I did notice some good changes in my skin. It didn’t clear up completely, but I never expected it to. It just seemed to calm things down, almost like there was some inflammation going on and the dairy was making it worse.

Unfortunately, I’m a sceptical little scientist and I can’t declare cause and effect without more evidence! I’m definitely going to re-group and try this again. I’ve learned that I really need to meal plan and prep ahead for it to be successful, and I would like to try it for a longer period of time, maybe a month, to see what kind of impact that has on my skin.

I’m also really interested to see if there are any other physical or emotional changes I notice over a longer period of time because, even in these two weeks, I noticed that I was a little less bloated, my sleep quality improved slightly, and my digestive system seemed a little happier. However, my mood was pretty unstable at times, and I’m usually really in-tune with what’s going on with me emotionally.


I definitely want to reduce my dairy intake in the long-term, because I do believe it has some impact on my skin. I just need to try again for longer to find out how much of an impact it could have, and I need to go into that much more prepared than I did this time! With that in mind, I’ve started a little Pinterest board where I’m pinning any yummy-looking dairy-free recipes I come across, which you can follow here. I’m hoping to do a little link fest of dairy-free recipes soon, so please do send me your favourites!

If you’re in a place where you’re really frustrated by your skin, and you’re looking for something new to try and bring it into balance, looking at your diet is definitely a million percent worth it. There could easily be something you’re eating which is causing inflammation or breakouts.

I’d love to know if you’ve found dairy affects your skin in any way. Comment below, or get in touch on the socials (or email me!) to share your story! And if you have given it up, any advice on how to make it successful would be appreciated!


  • Peta

    Oooooh I can’t comment on whether dairy affected my skin directly or not, but going completely vegan actually made my skin really bad. I suffered with acne throughout my teens and it cleared up during my early twenties until I went 100% vegan and for that year it was horrendous. After introducing fish and meat to my diet a few times a week, due to becoming anaemic, my skin has cleared up quite a bit. I still get very angry cyst like spots on my jaw and cheeks but these are down to hormones as well as stress. Eep!
    Well done on your trial, I’m afraid I don’t know where you can buy dairy free yoghurts that aren’t pricey!
    Peta x

    August 27, 2017 at 19:43 Reply
    • North

      Oh wow, that’s interesting! I’m quite anaemic and I don’t eat red meat, so I wonder if there’s something in that for me as well. I’m sure there’s something I can do with my diet to clear it up, even if it isn’t completely – I completely believe in food as medicine!
      I suppose it’s just trial and error to find out what works for you!
      Thank you for your comment lovely, you’ve given me some ideas!

      August 28, 2017 at 08:55 Reply
  • Simply Apostolia

    That’s a pretty interesting post! I don’t think I could ever give up cheese… I’m not that strong … I can cut out meat but cheese? No way… You had so much self control, I don’t think I could ever do that…

    August 30, 2017 at 05:50 Reply
    • North

      Oh but that’s good – so many people have a problem cutting out meat!
      I honestly didn’t think I could do it, I love it cheese so much! It’s much easier that I’m eating it again, but I probably should try and give it up again because it did make a difference!

      August 30, 2017 at 14:39 Reply
  • Christina

    I had clear skin my entire life until I moved to Portland, OR. When I moved from Chicago a couple years ago a friend of mine told me she washed her face with oil. I tried it and broke out immediately. I went to my regular skin regiment but the acne wouldn’t go away. 2 years later I’m still dealing with bad pimples. I don’t know if it’s caused by adult acne, the stress from moving, the oil experiment, or my diet. I don’t drink too much dairy but I eat cottage cheese almost every weekday. I wonder if I should cut that out and see what happens. If my skin clears up I’m really going to miss cottage cheese. 🙁

    September 21, 2017 at 20:57 Reply
    • North

      Oh my gosh Christina, I totally sympathise! It can be so frustrating to not know what’s causing you to break out. I know the condition of my skin can change if I’m away from home too long, possibly something to do with the water I’m washing my face in. In the UK we have different types of water depending on where you are in the country, so maybe it’s the same in the US? Like maybe there’s something different in Portland compared to Chicago and it’s causing your skin to breakout?
      If you think it’s worth making a change to your diet, even temporarily, to see if it helps then go for it! It was really hard for me too because I ate dairy every single day! Please let me know if you do go for it, and if you need any help!

      September 24, 2017 at 09:13 Reply

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