I struggled with cystic acne on my back for years. It was like whatever acne I was missing on my face found its way to my back. I was so self-conscious that I never wore strappy tops or shirts with a low-cut back. If a pimple was peeking out of the collar, I layered on the concealer to try to hide it. Any time I was in a bathing suit, you better believe my hair was down and covering as much of my back as possible. I got in the habit of having long hair that was always down in order to cover up as much of my back as I could.
I also had acne on my chest. It wasn’t nearly as bad as my back; they were your average white heads only with real estate in my cleavage. On the rare days I wore a v-neck, I was covered in concealer and constantly applied it throughout the day.
I noticed a change in my body acne as soon as I started to cut out dairy. Since I didn’t give up dairy over night, I can’t say it went away immediately.
I stopped eating cheese and milk pretty soon after meat, but ice cream and frozen yogurt took a little more time. I still ate the real thing once or twice a month and though I enjoyed it, I always felt like shit afterwards — until I discovered vegan options.
It’s crazy how your body reacts to foods once you have them less and less. I wasn’t super sensitive to dairy before cutting it out, but in those last few weeks of transitioning, I was so unbelievably sensitive to dairy — as in “lived in the bathroom for the rest of the night” sensitive.
That being said, the flare-ups pretty much stopped once most of the dairy was out of my diet. That was added motivation for me to nix the ice cream and froyo, too. I can’t say I haven’t had a pimple on my back since going vegan, but it’s a rare occurrence now and they aren’t painful or cystic anymore. Though I have a little pimple on my chest as I type this, it’s the first I’ve seen in months and literally looks like a freckle.
I’m not claiming that veganism will “cure” your acne. There are vegans out there who still suffer with acne and, like any other diet and lifestyle, are figuring out what they can do and adjust to be comfortable in their skin. I knew next to nothing about the hormones in dairy products before going vegan, but the changes in my skin are evident of the impact that they have on our bodies.
I won’t lecture you about dairy just because I find it gross. But I will say that it’s a known fact that the growth hormones and inflammatory substances in dairy products cause acne. If acne is something you suffer from, or something you want to experience less, the first and easiest step to make is to try some time without dairy. See what happens, you may surprise yourself with the changes you see.
Body acne isn’t a big deal to me now. It doesn’t affect my everyday life like it used to. I can wear tiny tank tops and not worry that the person behind me is staring at the Appalachian Mountains on my back. I can wear a ponytail and not worry about pimples popping out of shirt collar. The changes in my skin have made me so much more confident in my body and in myself.
Stay tuned for next week’s post where I share one of my favorite and easy vegan recipes!
Have you recently made the vegan switch or suffer from cystic acne? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Welcome to #MyVeganDiary, a series focused on living a vegan lifestyle. Follow along for Mixed Makeup producer Carly Rivlin’s cruelty-free tips on everything from beauty and skincare to recipes and more.