I know what you’re thinking: "In pursuit of perfect skin"; how vain! It’s true—not unvain. But I do have a few skin conditions that I’m always trying to remedy, including always-there dark circles, a chronic scalp condition that I haven’t been able to kick, and I’m prone to genetic eczema on my legs (thanks, Mom). The scalp issue is the toughest—it’s a constant flake that is bigger in size than dandruff, like peeling skin. I’ve seen doctors, dermatologists, and have tried almost every scalp treatment, shampoo, conditioner, and oil on the market—only one comes close to healing it. It’s Nucifera, and it’s become one of my holy grail products.
But I want to get to the root cause of these skin issues. Because of my scalp condition, the skin around my hairline is always a bit rough, bumpy, red, and/or irritated at any given point. Cute, right? For most of 2014 I gave up gluten, which didn’t work. Maybe it was time to try something new, I thought. Should I eat more fat? I never ate dairy regularly, but I do enjoy a great cheese plate, and ice cream is one of my all-time favorite things to eat. One of my co-workers, our deputy editor Elle, always has amazing skin and her hair is the kind that has consistent character, which must start with a healthy scalp. She consumed full-fat dairy on the reg, without blinking an eye. She’s a bit of a foodie and sung its praises, as I was trying to keep it to a minimum. I do think that dairy is an inflammatory food, but I’ve also been reading a good deal of the virtues of healthy, well-sourced fats. So I took a page from her book and started having dairy for breakfast, either a cup of 4 percent fat vanilla Siggi’s or White Moustache in Greek or Kiss flavors. I started looking forward to it, and at first my body responded well. I think it helped cut the caffeine from my coffee and kept my blood sugar steady—so I added a second serving almost daily.
Pretty soon I was having two or three yogurts a day, because yogurt for dessert is 100 percent better than ice cream, right? ;-) And with that, I was having more coffee because I found that my body could tolerate it well—even though I’m a fast caffeine metabolizer. (At this point, I was outpacing my co-worker by a long shot.) After a few weeks, though, I noticed bloating, puffiness in my face, more breakouts, and a scalp that was flakier than ever. Could it be my newfound love for full-fat dairy? The additional coffee? I had to find out.
I originally committed to cutting dairy for two weeks to see what happened, but those two weeks quickly extended to three, and then a month. After the first week, I limited my caffeine intake to one cup per day (with the exception of one weekend day) and noticed a huge difference, too. Here’s what happened: