Takeaway: Supplements for acne can range from vitamins and compounds to plant extracts. Ensuring that your diet is high in essential vitamins has a greater impact on your skin than you might think. Cystic acne, in particular, has been linked to an unhealthy gut. There are also a number of herbs and facial routines to treat your acne right at home.
Acne isn’t just a teenage problem. People of all ages suffer from a variety of different types of acne, from hormonal to cystic, and are looking to supplements to help their skin. If you have struggled to find an acne treatment to try that will work best for you, look no further! Our nutritionists have compiled the best supplements for every type of acne.
Supplements for Acne
Supplements for acne can range from vitamins and compounds to plant extracts. Certain ingredients have been proven to be effective supplements for acne prone skin while others target specific issues, such as inflammation and bacteria removal.
The 5 Best Supplements for Acne
While there is a multitude of acne supplements on the market, there are a certain few that have stand out among the rest. Read on to find out what the best vitamin supplements for acne are before your next visit to the health food store.
1. Zinc Supplements for Acne
Taking zinc supplements can help accelerate the development of skin cells, reduce the inflammatory response to bacteria that makes acne red and irritated, and reduce the appearance of acne scars. A 2012 study reported that taking zinc supplements orally was found to be effective for inflammatory bacterial forms of acne. The best zinc supplement for acne we recommend is Puritan’s Pride Zinc for Acne supplement but always check with your doctor first before taking because an excess of zinc can lead to a hormonal imbalance.
2. Vitamin A Supplements for Acne
Acting as an antioxidant, vitamin A works to promote better skin by fighting cell-damaging free radicals (toxic oxygen byproducts). Topical formulas containing vitamin A, called retinol, show the most promise by targeting acne directly. A 2012 review found that concentrations as low as .25 percent may provide benefits without side effects. Begin using vitamin A ointment gradually so that your skin can get used to the product. Try using it once every other day before moving to daily use.
3. Vitamin E Supplements for Acne
Although research is limited on vitamin E and acne, a recent study shows that people with acne had vitamin E, A and zinc deficiencies. Vitamin E may be able to help repair skin damage by protecting the body from free radicals making it one of the best supplements for acne scars. When using vitamin E supplements, don’t take more than 1,000 mg in its natural form or 670mg in its synthetic form daily due to a risk of blood thinning.
4. Collagen Supplements for Acne
Collagen is a key building block of the skin, healing wounds in the skin and potentially repairing damage caused by acne breakouts. This protein also strengthens the cell structure of the skin’s lower layers by creating a new skin in the area. Research is limited in the use of collagen for acne, so if you decide to take collagen supplements, be sure to take low doses to see how your skin reacts.
5. Vitamin D Supplements for Acne
This fat-soluble hormone comes naturally from fatty fish, dairy, and sun exposure. If your acne is caused by bacterial overgrowth, use topical vitamin D for its antimicrobial properties. If you’re treating chronically inflamed acne, take supplements below 100 mcg per day for its anti-inflammatory properties.
The Top 5 Supplements for Hormonal Acne
Several factors can cause hormonal acne, but the most common in women is the shift from ovulation to the premenstrual phase during the menstrual cycle. It can also be triggered by abnormally high levels of androgen hormones and stress. Some research shows that oil-producing glands in the skin can even act as hormone-producing organs by responding to messages from testosterone and cortisol hormones creating excess oil on the skin.
1. Magnesium supplements for hormonal acne
This nutrient is important for fighting inflammation in the body, and can be especially useful towards fighting inflammation caused by acne. Taking magnesium in combination with calcium, which is essential for skin cell renewal, can be even more effective towards reducing inflammation and acne breakouts.
2. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements for hormonal acne
This fatty acid, commonly found in fish oil and flax oil, improves skin by making it smoother and clearer. By helping to promote healthy oil production in the skin, it can prevent the excess oil buildup that leads to acne.
3. Zinc supplements for hormonal acne
Science has repeatedly established a link between zinc deficiency and acne, with a lack of zinc causing pores to become easily irritated by bacteria and showing redness. Studies show that taking a zinc supplement can help to ease acne.
4. Probiotics for acne
Acne is a common symptom of an unhealthy gut that lacks a proper amount of microbiomes. This is especially relevant to hormonal acne because your gut microbiomes also help your body to process and eliminate excess estrogen. If you’ve been on birth control or antibiotics for an extended period of time, using probiotic supplements for acne may be the right choice for you.
5. B Vitamins for acne
These vitamins help the skin by regenerating and renewing it, as well as providing your cells the energy they need for fuel. You can target hormonal and premenstrual acne by taking a B-complex supplement with high levels of B6, which also prevents skin inflammation and the overproduction of acne-causing oils.
The Top 3 Supplements for Cystic Acne
Research has shown a strong connection between cystic acne and an unhealthy gastrointestinal system meaning that an effective way to target cystic acne is to get your stomach in check. One study shows that 40% of people with acne have low stomach acid, which is responsible for absorbing nutrients and protecting your body from harmful microbes. If your body isn’t properly filtering out toxins via the liver, the oily toxins will instead flow to the skin, resulting in clogged pores and trapped dead skin cells for skin bacteria to feed on.
1. Betaine HCL
Because cystic acne may be caused by a deficiency in hydrochloric acid in the digestive system, an effective way to solve this is by taking a capsule of the stomach acid betaine HCL. You should start with one HCL capsule right before a meal, increasing by one capsule at a time throughout the meal until you feel a slight burning in your upper stomach. If it takes you more than two capsules to feel this heartburn sensation, you may have low stomach acid levels.
2. B Vitamins
This vitamin helps to promote bile production in the liver, helping to keep a healthy gastrointestinal balance. You should talk to your doctor about what the proper B-Vitamin complex is for you.
Taking a fiber supplement like glucomannan, which gets down to the small intestines and binds to bile acids, helps to move toxins out of the body more efficiently. Take a capsule of this supplement half an hour before each meal with water. According to naturopathic physician Andrew Rubman, this can improve cystic acne within seven to ten days.
The Top 6 Natural Supplements for Acne
If you’re looking for a more natural approach to clearing up your acne, don’t worry. There’s a multitude of entirely natural supplements for acne that you can use without worrying about taking any type of vitamin or capsule. However, many of these supplements lack the proper research to show quantifiable benefit towards acne, so read on to see what works best for you.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for Acne
Popular in the health community for its plethora of benefits, such as lower blood sugar levels, weight loss, and reduced risk of cancer, apple cider vinegar also now has research showing that its organic acids may help kill acne-causing bacteria. It may also reduce the appearance of acne scars by removing the damaged outer layer of skin to promote regeneration. However, apple cider vinegar can cause burns so, to prevent skin damage, it should be used in small amounts and diluted with water.
2. Rosehip Oil Benefits for Acne
Rosehip oil is extracted by pressing the fruit and seeds of the rose plant. This differs from rose oil which is extracted from rose petals. This oil is a natural source of vitamin C which is an antioxidant that helps with irregular pigmentation, collagen production, and linoleic acid which is an omega-6 fatty acid that helps the skin to maintain healthy oil production. Try topical rosehip first to see how your skin reacts, then consult with your doctor if you see no improvement in six to eight weeks to find out if rosehip oil is right for you.
3. Tea Tree Oil Benefits for Acne
This plant-extracted oil has potent antimicrobial properties, helping to kill the type of bacteria responsible for acne breakouts. Although research is limited on tea tree oil, one study found that five percent tea tree oil improved acne when compared to a placebo. If you want to try adding tea tree oil to your skin care routine, dilute the oil with coconut oil or sweet almond oil before applying it to the skin.
4. Turmeric Benefits for Acne
Turmeric, the primary spice in curry, has been touted for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumor effects. Research shows that turmeric, and its active ingredient curcumin, promote good skin health and targets acne-causing bacteria when combined with lauric acid. You can either take turmeric orally, via tea or supplements or with a topical ointment.
5. Benefits of Green Tea for Acne
Green tea has powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial qualities, protecting the skin from damage by free radicals and acne-causing bacteria. It may also reduce inflammation according to a study done by Complementary Therapies in medicine that show green tea extract caused less inflammatory breakouts. While it isn’t enough to clear skin entirely, it will help to reduce inflammation and keep your skin healthy with a cup a day or through topical use.
6. Aloe Vera Benefits for Acne
The clear gel found inside of aloe vera leaves has been historically used topically to soothe burned or irritated skin. Its strong anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties have shown promise when used either by itself as a facial cleanser or in conjunction with anti-acne medication according to one study. You can also use aloe vera gel to spot-treat acne breakout areas, leaving it on overnight and washing it off in the morning.
Other Natural Supplements for Acne Prone Skin
If you’re looking for even more natural alternatives for acne treatment, check out these natural and herbal supplements for acne.
Fish Oil Benefits for Skin Acne:
Fish oil contains a high level of omega-3 fatty acids, which work to soothe the body’s inflammatory response to excess oil and bacteria. It’s also able to regulate acne-causing hormones like testosterone and androgen. Start by taking a teaspoon daily of clinical strength fish oil, with high levels of EPA and DHA like Arazo Nutrition’s Omega 3 Fish Oil, and you should start to see results in two to four months.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Acne:
Coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids that help to kill acne-causing bacteria, and is a great moisturizer that helps with healing skin damage and reducing scarring. However, coconut oil isn’t recommended if you have oily skin, potentially making your acne worse for some people due to its tendency to clog pores. You should check with your doctor before you begin to use topically, but consuming it at a dose of two tablespoons a day should be safe with marked benefits.
Benefits of Jojoba Oil for Acne:
This oil has great anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-aging properties, as well as a strong ability to heal skin wounds and moisturize. A 2012 study found that clay jojoba oil face masks were effective in healing skin lesions and mild acne signaling your skin to balance its oils. While this oil has many promising benefits, it should not be applied directly to the skin, instead of mixed with an agent like aloe vera gel or coconut oil.
Witch Hazel Benefits for Acne:
Witch hazel not only has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, but it also acts as an astringent that causes your skin tissue to contract and shrink your pores. This prevents acne-causing bacteria from entering your pores, making it useful for those with oily skin. It can be applied topically via ointments and extracts several times per day.
Rose Water Benefits for Acne:
Rose water is a popular skin beauty product, created by distilling rose petals with steam. Its antibacterial properties may help to reduce acne and its anti-inflammatory properties can reduce red, irritated acne. You can either apply it to the skin on its own or mix it with moisturizers or natural oils.
Sea Salt Benefits for Acne:
Sea salt has the potential to help heal acne because it dries up oils and reduces bacteria in the skin. It can either be used with a saltwater solution applied to the face, a coconut oil blend, in a saltwater bath or mixed with honey.
Black Soap Benefits for Acne:
Also called African black soap, this antibacterial soap is naturally fragrance-free and safe for all skin types due to its gentle nature. It moisturizes your skin without making it oily due to its shea butter ingredient, also soothing inflammation and balancing your skin’s natural oils and help repair damaged skin cells. If you use raw African black soap, like Our Earth’s Secrets, be sure to lather the soap in your hand or washcloth because it may irritate if applied directly to the skin.
Benefits of Steaming Face for Acne:
While steaming your face isn’t able to clear your pores because the penetration into your skin isn’t deep enough, it does help to make pore blockages easier to extract. You should steam your face prior to using any acne treatment or pore extraction method.
Honey Benefits for Acne:
Raw honey has been shown to help balance skin bacteria, with Manuka honey being the most studied and effective type for fighting acne. It’s able to speed up your skin cells’ healing process as well. You can use honey as a paste applied topically, a spot-treatment, or with a face mask left on for several minutes.
Benefits of Argan Oil for Acne:
Although research is lacking for argan oil benefits for acne, it does have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce redness and irritation caused by acne. It may also help hydrate the skin, which helps with acne caused by dry skin or general irritation.
Garlic Supplements for Acne:
Garlic is a significant antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiseptic due to its active ingredient allicin. It helps to reduce swelling and inflammation, which is a common symptom of acne breakouts. Garlic also contains other anti-acne vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin B-6, selenium, copper, and zinc.
Vitamin C Serum Benefits for Acne:
Because vitamin C is anti-inflammatory, this serum can help to clear up your acne and reduce its redness and inflammation. This is because of its pro-collagen and pro-elastin effects. Before applying vitamin C serum, be sure to exfoliate if you have acne.
While it seems like many of these supplements show promise in their ability to clear your acne breakouts, always consider your specific skin type and the root of your acne. If you have oily skin and your acne is caused by hormones, or if you have dry skin and your acne is caused by irritation, some of these supplements will work better than others for you. It’s always best to consult with your doctor on what the best approach to your acne treatment should be.