The best supplements for acne – according to our Doctor
If you’ve ever experienced acne, you’ll know it can be stubborn and tricky to treat. Addressing the symptoms with face washes and medicated creams can cause a temporary improvement to blemishes. However, a topical-only treatment approach neglects one key, crucial thing: the root cause of your breakouts.
Without looking beneath the surface, long-term relief from acne is unlikely. And one of the best ways to tackle underlying issues, imbalances, and acne triggers? With skin-supporting vitamins and supplements, naturally.
If you’ve ever wondered what supplements are good for acne, read on. In this article, Dr Vivian Tam (TCM) provides her tips on the best vitamins and supplements to address inflammation, oil production, toxicity and more.
An essential mineral found in foods including red meat, dairy, legumes, eggs, shellfish and nuts, Zinc is not only helpful for fighting off colds. It’s also one of the most prescribed supplements for acne. Helping with immune system functioning, Zinc has been shown in several studies to reduce acne breakouts. Research also suggests a link between low zinc levels and acne severity.
According to Dr Tam, “Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Zinc can help relieve redness and irritation. And, as it’s essential to wound and tissue healing, it may also improve the appearance of acne scarring.”
Omega-3 (Fish Oil or Krill Oil)
“Essential fatty acids including omega-3 are crucial for managing acne, and a fish oil supplement can be helpful if your diet is deficient,” says Doctor Tam. “Not only can omega-3 reduce inflammation in the body, but it also helps nourish cells to produce and balance oil production.”
Additionally, “Some research shows omega-3 fatty acids can help regulate testosterone, which is associated with hormonal acne flares.”
An antioxidant that boosts our immune system and promotes wound healing, Vitamin C is a vital part of a healthy diet. Especially if you want clear, radiant, and youthful-looking skin.
“Vitamin C plays a huge role in collagen synthesis, which in turn helps with skin and tissue and wound healing,” says Dr Tam. “It’s a great vitamin to help minimise acne scarring, and it also breaks up free radicals which damage the skin and cause premature ageing.”
So, if you’re not getting enough Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables? You may want to consider taking a supplement.
Good gut health is associated with everything from better moods to increased immunity, improved digestion and reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. And a diverse and balanced gut microflora also has benefits for the skin.
With systemic anti-inflammatory benefits, probiotic supplements (with strains of good bacteria) have been shown to be beneficial in those with acne1. Topical probiotics can inhibit the growth of P. acnes bacteria, and oral and topical forms can help support the use of antibiotics and prescription anti-acne skincare which can upset the gut microbiome and impair the skin barrier.
Prebiotics are essentially food for these good bacteria (or probiotics). “A prebiotic will feed the good bacteria and this, in turn, helps with digestive functions,” says Dr Tam. “In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) gut health is important because without it, we eliminate toxins well and this toxin build-up can contribute to acne flares.”
Zilch Acne Formula
If you’re looking for an all-in-one supplement for acne, consider Zilch Acne Formula. Created by Dr Tam, Zilch is a potent combination of just 17 Chinese Medicine herbs, with no chemicals or additives. Each herb has been chosen to address a specific element associated with acne in TCM. Namely, inflammation, toxicity, sluggish blood circulation and slow wound healing.
“Over time heat and toxin build-up inevitably lead to eruptions in the skin, while poor circulation leads to blockages, blood stagnation and painful swelling,” says Dr Tam. “By addressing all these underlying factors, while promoting tissue repair, Zilch gets to the root of your pimple problems. It’s because of this holistic approach we’re able to achieve fast and long-lasting results for our customers. Without the use of any chemicals or harsh ingredients that can cause dryness, peeling and irritation.”
Another popular vitamin supplement for acne management is Vitamin D. With antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the vitamin may reduce swelling and redness. While also supporting immune function and promoting strong, healthy bones.
Various studies link low Vitamin D levels to acne, including a 2016 study that found nearly 50% of participants with acne to be deficient in the vitamin.
Evening Primrose Oil
Often touted as a natural PMS treatment, evening primrose oil is an option worth considering if you have painful inflamed or cystic acne. It’s a rich source of a type of omega-6 fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). According to findings from a 2014 study, taking a GLA supplement can help reduce both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne blemishes.
“Research shows people with low levels of omega-6 can experience more severe acne,” says Dr Tam. “Supplementing with evening primrose oil can help by reducing inflammation and promote tissue healing.”
According to Dr Tam, another vitamin supplement that supports clear skin is Vitamin E. “Vitamin E is an antioxidant which prevents fats from oxidising. This can help reduce the spread of acne-causing bacteria across the face. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits that can assist with cystic and inflammatory acne. And it helps to boost the immune system, which is important for healthy, youthful skin.”
If you have acne or sensitive skin, you might be familiar with the soothing, pore-shrinking, oil-balancing benefits of niacinamide. A well-tolerated form of Vitamin B3, niacinamide (or nicotinamide) features in countless serums and skincare products. And it can also be taken orally.
“Vitamin B3 helps build proteins in the skin and supports the barrier to keep skin healthy,” says Dr Tam. “It increases resilience and, the more resilient the skin, the better its ability to fight off acne.”
In a 2017 study, oral nicotinamide supplementation and topical application were both shown to significantly improve acne. It’s also believed that oral supplements may help reduce the risk of developing skin cancers2.
However, according to Dr Tam, you’ll likely see more anti-acne benefits from using this anti-inflammatory ingredient topically than with supplementation.
In some cases, dermatologists may recommend oral Vitamin A supplementation for severe acne. A powerful prescription drug, Isotretinoin or Accutane is the best-known example. However, much milder forms of retinoids are also available over the counter.
“Some studies show that Vitamin A can disrupt the effects of the acne bacteria,” says Dr Tam. “It helps with cell turnover and reproduction. However, it should be avoided by pregnant and breast-feeding women and taken only on the advice of your healthcare professional.
“It’s generally best to get Vitamin A through your diet – it’s found in foods like oily fish, leafy greens, and dairy products. Or use a topical retinol, making sure you’re extra vigilant with sun protection.”
Ready to get started on your clear skin journey with an effective, all-natural supplement? Shop Zilch Acne Formula today.