Here’s What To Do If You Break Out After Eating Cheese

You know that old saying “you are what you eat?” Well, there’s some truth to that when it comes down to your complexion. For example, research has shown some evidence that eating dairy products or foods high on the glycemic index can make acne worse if you’re already prone to it. Womp, womp.

That said, sometimes you just want the damn chocolate (or that extra slice of pizza). Go ahead—enjoy it. Then use these tricks to prevent the post-junk food complexion crash.

If you just had a ton of sugar…

The problem: “Foods high in sugar may cause glycation, or the binding of sugar molecules to collagen and lipids in your skin,” says Mostafa Omar, Ph.D., president and founder of Phyto-C Skin Care. “Over time, these collagen proteins, which are responsible for keeping skin firm, smooth, and plump, start to break down.”

The fix: Treatments with retinol (like Neutrogena’s) or alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic or lactic acid) cause your cells to turn over faster and kick your collagen production into high gear.

If you’re obsessed with making the perfect cheese plate…

The problem: “Hormones in dairy can increase inflammation and oil production, leading to blemishes within a few days,” says dermatologist Arash Akhavan, M.D., founder of the Dermatology & Laser Group in New York City.

The fix: “Many of my patients have seen dairy elimination lead to significant improvement in their acne,” says Akhavan. Sub in coconut or almond milk alternatives—or if you just can’t quit, try a benzoyl peroxide treatment to prevent and heal breakouts.

For particularly nasty spots, flash this Dr. Dennis Gross device for three minutes daily: Its red light quells inflammation, and its blue light nixes acne-causing bacteria.

If you always want fries with that…

The problem: Chips and fries don’t just make you feel bloated. “Salty foods cause your body to retain water and your blood vessels to swell,” says Omar. “In the skin, this appears as puffiness—especially under the eyes and on the tops of your cheeks.”

The fix: After a salty meal, sleep on your back with an extra pillow under your head; the elevation will keep fluids from pooling in these areas.

Fight the baggage by using an under-eye gel with a cooling applicator tip, which will constrict blood vessels to reduce swelling. And use a facial roller to work in your moisturizer, rolling it from the inside of your face outward to shift and drain excess fluid.

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Women’s Health. For more great advice, pick up a copy on newsstands now.

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