The milk factor
cheesy pizza, salty fries – we blamed our teenage acne on lots of delicious greasiness, but the one food that’s likely sabotaging our skin in adolescence and beyond is surprising. “A series of studies show skim milk is most consistently associated with acne,” says Dr James. Many speculate that it’s because of skim milk’s sugar-to-protein ratio. So go back to putting real cream in your coffee, but skip the creamer.
“A diet low in sugar and processed foods seems to be best for your skin,” says Dr Zeichner. (One theory why there’s no acne in tropical islands like Kitava, Papua New Guinea: there’s also no junk food.) “High glycemic index foods raise your glucose levels, promoting breakouts. It’s because it causes a spike in the production of a growth factor – insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF–1),” he says. And now that you’re on a health kick: eating fruits, vegetables and fish more than three times a week is associated with fewer breakouts, according to a survey in a dermatology journal.
“High-antioxidant diets tend to be better for your skin; we think it’s because they’re anti-inflammatory,” explains Dr Doris Day, a clinical associate professor of dermatology.
“If you started taking the pill in your teens or 20s, well, you may not even realise it’s helping keep your skin clear until you go off it and break out.” – Dr Jill M Weinstein