Acne can be very bothersome, frustrating, and emotionally distressing. And if left untreated, it can persist, get worse, and even lead to scarring. If you’re looking for natural options to treat the root causes of your acne and help clear up your skin, natural supplements for acne ranging from probiotics to green tea extracts may help.
What is acne?
Acne, medically termed acne vulgaris, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition. It occurs when small hair follicles in the skin become clogged, which results in outbreaks of pimples or zits. Acne outbreaks usually occur on the face, but they can also involve the shoulders, back, and chest.
There can be different types of lesions, such as whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, or severe nodular acne (sometimes called cystic acne). The condition can range from mild to severe, depending on the type and extent of the lesions.3
What causes acne?
Acne outbreaks, what we usually think of as “pimples” or “zits,” occur when your pores become clogged with an oily substance called sebum and dead skin cells. This buildup allows bacteria to grow in the plugged follicles, which eventually leads to inflammation. That inflammation is ultimately responsible for the symptoms you might see and feel on your skin—the redness, swelling, and even pain.3
To review, the main causes of acne include:
- Excess production of oil (sebum)
- Growth of bacteria
- Abnormal shedding of certain types of skin cells
- Inflammation 1 2 3
Your risk of getting acne may be affected by factors such as hormonal changes, family history, medications, age, and more.3
What are the best supplements for acne?
Many of the conventional treatment options for acne can be quite harsh, including the use of antibiotics, retinoid therapy, and more. These treatments can come with unwanted side effects, especially if used in the long term.
Fortunately, there are many natural options that can help to address the underlying problems behind acne and help create clearer, healthier skin. Often, correcting nutrient deficiencies and supporting the body’s natural healing processes can make a big difference.
Please note: before beginning to take any new supplements, always consult with your doctor to determine what will be safest and most effective for you.
Some supplements for acne that may be worth exploring include:
Zinc is a mineral that has anti-inflammatory properties in the body, making it a good candidate for helping to reduce symptoms involving swelling and redness (like acne).
Studies have found that people with acne can be especially low in this trace mineral, with a correlation between low zinc levels and more severe acne.4 5 And correcting zinc depletion can be an effective strategy in fighting acne. In one review study, researchers found that 10 out of the 14 studies evaluated showed supplementation with zinc to be beneficial for acne.6
Supplementation is one way to get enough zinc. Aside from supplements, you can also up your zinc intake through your diet by adding zinc-rich foods like beans, nuts, poultry, whole grains, and oysters to your meals.
Probiotics are another type of supplement that may help with acne treatment.
As we learned above, acne lesions involve an increased production of a certain type of bacteria in the skin’s pores. Probiotics might be able to help by promoting better bacterial balance in your skin. These friendly bacteria can help to kill off the unfriendly bacteria that are part of the problem.
Studies have found that oral probiotics can be a useful therapy for treating mild and moderate acne, although more research is needed to better understand their benefit.7
3. Vitamin E
Researchers have found that people with acne tend to have lower than normal levels of vitamin E.4 Similar to zinc, vitamin E is also naturally anti-inflammatory in nature. Ensuring that your body has enough vitamin E can help with the inflammation that contributes to acne symptoms.
While more research is needed in this area, it’s a good idea to ensure that you’re getting an adequate amount of vitamin E in your diet. Along with supporting optimal overall health, it just might help improve your skin health and soothe your acne symptoms as well.
Vitamin E is rich in foods like seed, nuts, and oils, but you can also try taking vitamin E supplements for acne with the support of your doctor.
|Learn how ZYTO can help you choose the best supplements based on the body’s unique energetic responses.|
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another nutrient that is often depleted in people who have acne. One study found that almost 50% of patients with acne were vitamin D deficient, with the lowest vitamin D levels being linked to the most severe forms of acne. The study also found that supplementing with vitamin D helped to improve acne symptoms.8
Vitamin D helps to fight inflammation, protects against harmful bacteria, and plays important roles in the immune system, so it is essential to ensure that your body has enough of this nutrient—especially if you have an inflammatory condition like acne.
You can up your vitamin D levels through getting out into natural sunlight, but many people struggle to get enough that way. Often, vitamin D supplements are the best way to make sure your body has adequate levels of this vital nutrient.
5. Green tea extract
Green tea contains many natural compounds that have a variety of health benefits in the body. For example, some of the compounds in green tea have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Green tea extracts are also thought to be able to reduce oil production in the skin.
All of these qualities add up to make green tea extract a potent tool to help deal with acne. A study from the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that supplementation with green tea extract helped to significantly improve acne lesions in post-adolescent women.9
Green tea extract comes in supplement form, but you also might try simply drinking more cups of green tea as part of your daily habits.
Other tips for acne treatment and prevention
Acne care is more than just taking pills—natural supplements or not. A whole-body approach to cane treatment and prevention is key.
Here are some other important tips to keep in mind if you are managing persistent acne:
- Change up your diet. Diet can play a major role in acne treatment and prevention. Some foods can make acne worse, such as fatty foods, dairy, chocolate, and foods high on the glycemic index (meaning foods that spike your blood sugar). On the other hand, other foods can be protective against acne, such as vegetables, fiber-rich foods, fish, other healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and low-glycemic foods.1 2 10 11 It may take some experimenting to find a way of eating that works well for you, but it can also be well worth it. Many people find that changing the way they eat and following healthier eating patterns can make a major difference when it comes to clearing up their skin.
- Try tea tree oil. Topical application of tea tree oil is another natural option for treating acne. Tea tree oil has natural antimicrobial properties which can help in clearing up symptoms like acne. There are some studies showing it to be effective for acne, but the research is limited.2 Never apply tea tree oil undiluted to your skin; be sure to always dilute it in a carrier oil and test it on a small area of skin first to make sure you don’t react to it negatively.
- Be choosy about your skin-care products. When caring for a skin condition like acne, it is vital to be very mindful about what you put on your skin. That includes face washes, lotions, serums, sunscreens, and more. Choose products that are oil free and that are designed not to clog the pores. Look for natural products that are good for acne-prone skin, and make sure that all of your products are mild and easy on the skin.
- Reduce stress. While stress doesn’t necessarily cause acne directly, studies show that it can certainly make it much worse.12 Gathering tools to better cope with stress and reduce its impact can go a long way in soothing symptoms of acne and supporting better overall health, too.
Try supplements to help reduce acne
Although it is extremely common, acne can be a very stressful, alienating, and hard-to-treat condition.
If you’ve been dealing with persistent acne, it may be well worth your while to try out a variety of natural supplements for acne that can help soothe your skin by supporting the body from the inside out. Speak with your doctor about options like zinc, probiotics, vitamin E, vitamin D, and green tea extract.
And don’t forget to take a whole-body, holistic approach to your acne management. Modifying your diet, trying natural topicals like tea tree oil, cleaning up your skin-care cabinet, and learning to better manage stress can all be effective tools to add to your acne toolkit.
About Chelsea Clark
Chelsea Clark is a writer and certified health and wellness coach who is passionate about supporting others along their own health journeys. She enjoys helping people make positive, lasting changes so that they can live the happiest, healthiest life possible.
1. Baldwin, H., & J. Tan. “Effects of Diet on Acne and Its Response to Treatment.” American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 22, no. 1 (2021): 55–65.
2. Oge’, L.K., A. Broussard, & M.D. Marshall. “Acne Vulgaris: Diagnosis and Treatment.” American Family Physician 100, no. 8 (2019): 475–484.
3. “Acne.” National Institutes of Health. Niams.nih.gov.
4. Ozuguz, P., S. Dogruk Kacar, O. Ekiz, et al. “Evaluation of serum vitamins A and E and zinc levels according to the severity of acne vulgaris.” Cutaneous and ocular toxicology 33, no. 2 (2014): 99–102.
5. Rostami Mogaddam, M., N. Safavi Ardabili, N. Maleki, & M. Soflaee. “Correlation between the Severity and Type of Acne Lesions with Serum Zinc Levels in Patients with Acne Vulgaris.” BioMed Research International 2014 (2014): 474108.
6. Dhaliwal, S., M. Nguyen, A.R. Vaughn, et al. “Effects of Zinc Supplementation on Inflammatory Skin Diseases: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Evidence.” American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 21, no. 1 (2020): 21–39.
7. Goodarzi, A., S. Mozafarpoor, M. Bodaghabadi, & M. Mohamadi. “The potential of probiotics for treating acne vulgaris: A review of literature on acne and microbiota.” Dermatologic Therapy 33, no. 3 (2020): e13279.
8. Lim, S.K., J.M. Ha, Y.H. Lee, et al. “Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Patients with and without Acne: A Case-Control Study Combined with a Randomized Controlled Trial.” PloS One 11, no. 8 (2016): e0161162.
9. Lu, P.H. & C.H. Hsu. “Does supplementation with green tea extract improve acne in post-adolescent women? A randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine 25 (2016): 159–163.
10. Dall’Oglio, F., M.R. Nasca, F. Fiorentini, & G. Micali. “Diet and acne: review of the evidence from 2009 to 2020.” International Journal of Dermatology 60, no. 6 (2021): 672–685.
11. Clark, A.K., K.N. Haas, & R.K. Sivamani. “Edible Plants and Their Influence on the Gut Microbiome and Acne.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences 18, no. 5 (2017): 1070.
12. Zari, S. & D. Alrahmani. “The association between stress and acne among female medical students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.” Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology 10 (2017): 503–506.