How to Have Bright, Clear, Glowing Skin
The Top 5 Science-Backed Acne Supplements
As a skin condition occurring when our hair follicles close up from dead skin cells and oil, acne causes blackheads, pimples, or whiteheads.
Medically, acne is called acne vulgaris, a type of skin disease with blackheads, inflammation, rashes, red skin, whiteheads, and even deep lesions.
While most common amongst teenagers, acne can affect individuals of all ages.
Like a game of Whack-A-Mole, as one acne bump heals and goes away, another can take its place.
Even though acne can be chronic, effective treatments for acne are widely available.
Acne can create emotional distress and as well as scar our skin.
The earlier one begins their acne treatment, the better the outcome.
There are many factors that can cause acne, including bacteria, hormonal shifts, hyperkeratinization, inflammation, diet, and other lifestyle actions.
Acne Types (Classified by Severity)
- Mild Acne: low amounts of inflammatory acne, or only non-inflammatory acne, or both.
- Moderate Acne: greater amounts of inflammatory acne, occasional nodules, hard and painful acne, or both, with some amount of scarring.
- Severe acne: large amounts of inflammatory acne, nodules, or both, and with heavy scarring. Treatment-resistant after 6 months, and/ or that which causes emotional distress.
Typically occurring on our body parts with sebaceous glands, our tiny oil-producing hormonally influenced glands.
We find these glands on our back, chest, face, neck, and upper arms.
What Causes Acne? (4 Causes)
A bacterium that grows on our skin is called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes).
With acne, this bacterium grows abnormally leading to alteration of sebum, follicular hyperkeratinization, inflammation, and skin damage.
Excessive Oil Production (Sebum)
High amounts of oil production or sebum caused by sebaceous glands, inflammation, follicular hyperkeratinization, and bacterium promote acne.
Follicular hyperkeratinization, or abnormal sebaceous glands and upper hair follicle skin cell exfoliation is the main cause of acne.
Despite some researchers suggesting the role of diet on acne is overstated, we have powerful evidence dietary changes can promote notable acne improvement.
Oil and Dead Skin Cell Clogging Hair Follicles
Acne occurs when our hair follicles close up due to dead skin cells and oil buildup. This causes blackheads, pimples, or whiteheads.
- Blackheads: Clogged open pores.
- Cystic Lesions: Pus-filled painful lumps below the skin.
- Nodules: Painful large lumps below the skin.
- Papules: Tender, small reddish bumps.
- Pimples: (Pustules or papules containing pus at the top.
- Whiteheads: Clogged closed pores.
What is the Best Diet for Acne?
Research shows us changing our diet can produce notable acne improvements.
The best diet for acne is a whole-food-based diet while avoiding dairy, highly processed foods, and simple sugar-based foods.
Acne Promoting Foods to Avoid
- Milk and Dairy: milk, cheese, yogurt. (This relationship might be overstated.)
- Processed Food: chips, fast food, frozen meals, microwave meals, sugar cereals, white bread, and other simple sugar-based carbohydrates.
- Sugar Drinks and Snacks: cake, candy, cookies, soda, sugar, sweetened juice, and others.
Nutrients for Acne
- B Vitamins (High dose B-12 injections can also inflame acne.)
- B5 (Large doses of 5–10 grams of daily B5 shows significant improvements in 2 months.)
- Chromium (400 mcg of chromium appears to improve skin cell metabolism.)
- Omega-3’s (Mixed evidence and some might experience negative effects.)
- Probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus was one of the first to treat acne.)
- Selenium (400 mcg selenium appears to show some benefit.)
- Vitamin D (Best evidence with a strong deficiency correlation with impressive results at 5,000 IU daily.)
- Zinc (Also effective along with vitamin D, at 30 to 150 mg in divided daily doses after 3 months.)
*The Linus Pauling Institute cautions men on using in excess of 200 mcg of daily selenium.
Lifestyle Changes for Acne Improvement
- Diet: (Benefit through lowering or eliminating simple sugars, carbohydrates.)
- Stress (Does not cause acne, but it can worsen it.)
- Chocolate (Non-dairy cocoa/ dark chocolate won’t promote acne.)
- Cosmetics (Oil-free makeup will not promote acne).
- Hygiene (Excessive cleaning and scrubbing can worsen acne.)
Acne Risk Factors
- Most commonly found in teenagers because of androgen production during puberty.
- Dairy and dairy byproduct consumption, such as casein and whey.
- If both parents had acne, one is likely to experience it.
- Greasy or oily substances, from skin contact with oily lotions and creams.
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy or midlife, notably in women, can also increase acne.
- Women also experience acne later in life-related to hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, premenopause, and when using hormonal birth control
- Medications: corticosteroids, lithium, testosterone. (This acne type is distinct from acne vulgaris.)
- Skin friction or pressure.
- Can worsen acne despite not directly being a cause.
Which Acne Treatment is Best? The Top Acne Supplements
#1 Vitamin B3 Niacinamide
The most well-studied acne supplement is vitamin B3, in a 4% niacinamide, also called nicotinamide gel form.
Niacinamide gel performs equal to 1% clindamycin antibiotic gel in acne severity improvement while performing superior to clindamycin in oily skin types.
Also available is a topical cream with the niacinamide metabolite, 1-methyl niacinamide (0.1–0.5%), which shows effectiveness for burns and eczema, besides acne.
With 8 weeks of twice a day daily use, 4% niacinamide gel can be equally effective to 1% clindamycin gel, while we see some initial results in as little as 1 to 3 weeks.
#2 Green Tea
Polyphenol-rich green tea appears to be a potent anti-acne compound.
Matcha green tea might even deliver more benefits because of its higher polyphenol content.
A study shows 1,500 mg of green tea extract for 4 weeks, significantly improving acne lesions. We have issued cautions with daily green tea extracts over 800 mg, because of rare reports of liver toxicity. Drinking matcha tea might be a safer long-term option.
Inositol appears to deliver the best results for women with PCOS.
Inositol or Myo-inositol is a vitamin-like type of sugar, which performs at the highest level for acne, anxiety, fertility, and panic attacks in those with PCOS.
Acne was eliminated in one research study in over half of its participants.
We see results in three months, with full benefits realized after six months using 2,000 mg per day. They used no placebo control group in this study. One important side note is we see the range of use as high as 4,000 mg for physical PCOS conditions, with much higher dosages used for mood-based PCOS symptoms.
#4 Milk Thistle (Silymarin)
Milk thistle or silymarin is a top liver support supplement.
Taken at 210 mg daily, milk thistle shows a 53% reduction in total acne count after 2 months of use.
#5 NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine)
The amino acid N-acetyl-cysteine, (NAC) used for liver health, detoxification, and mood benefits, appears to be a solid acne supplement.
We see a 50% reduction in total acne count with the use of NAC.
The one small NAC study used 1200 mg per day of NAC, with results appearing after 8 weeks, as these effects show continued improvement.
Acne Supplements (Notable Others)
Barberry, (Berberis vulgaris L.)
Barberry’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions notably lowers acne lesions in some studies.
Also, with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions, CBD is found lowering inflammation and improving sebum production in test-tube studies on human skin cells.
Resveratrol in a cream form more than halved the rating scores of acne, but the acne count reductions were less than 10%.
Vitex agnus-castus, (Chasteberry)
Limited evidence shows chasteberry lowers acne prior to menstruation because of its hormonal action on estrogen.
Conclusions on Acne Supplements
For acne treatment, we want to understand what causes acne in our own body.
Because, when we look at which acne treatment is the best, this will further help us select the right one.
Once again we are reminded of the importance of using a high-quality two-a-day multivitamin.
We can see how our chosen lifestyle may improve or worsen the expression of the physical conditions we experience.
What’s your favorite supplement?
Your Friend in Health