The Best Tips for Clear Skin
Top dermatologists weigh in on what really works to get a flawless complexion.
While facialists have bashed dairy for decades, clinical studies have only recently established a link between milk consumption and acne. "Milk contains testosterone precursors, which cause increased sebum production," says New York dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD. "What's fascinating is that one study found that of all milk, skim milk has the strongest correlation with acne. We're not sure why, but some hypothesize that skim milk has less estrogen than whole milk."
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And switching to organic milk won't remove your exposure: "All milk naturally contains androgens and IGF-1," Mariwalla says. "There's no such thing as hormone-free milk. Plus, milk contains sugar, a lactose, so it stimulates insulin."
Another recent study suggests that following a low glycemic index diet—that means one with less refined sugars, carbohydrates, and sugar-containing foods—may result in fewer acne outbreaks. "As the glycemic index goes up, it affects insulin production and all the hormones," Fusco says. "They are all in a delicate balance—your female hormones are in balance with your thyroid hormones, which are in balance with your insulin. When you have more in one area, it's like a domino effect on the others." Since the dietary acne provoker may vary for every person, New York dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD, recommends keeping a food diary outlining what you eat in the days before a breakout to determine what your triggers are. "Then you start a very slow reentry, introducing one new item, like dairy, every six weeks to see what happens on the skin," says Marmur, who believes that it takes just 48 hours for what you eat to show up on your face. "So you can look back two days ago and figure out what you were eating," she says. "It may not be the same foods for you as it is for me. Personally, when I eat chocolate, I'll break out 48 hours later."