This seems to be a question that I get quite often, so I figured it would be a good idea to get it down for you guys permanently so that you always have a reference point to go back to & refer to when shopping for products/supplements/groceries!
Before we get into the supplements, there are a few things I want to discuss! (I mean, aren’t there always? I’m a ranter!).
Acne isn’t just a pimple that appears here & there. Acne is actually a skin condition that can cause several types of bumps to form on the surface on the skin. It’s often triggered by hormonal changes in the body, but may be caused by a series of other factors, such as: diet, emotional stress / anxiety, certain medications, menstruation etc.
- Hormonal acne tends to show up in areas around the chin & tends to appear about a week before menstruation when estrogen plunges.
- Stress acne, on the other hand, tends to show up on your face. Believe it or not, stress is a major factor in skin health & can trigger oxidative stress & lead to inflammation in the body. It affects your adrenals, hormones & your ability to fight off free radicals, all of which can in turn, irradiate the skin & cause acne.
- Dietary acne usually appears on the cheeks & jaw line & is generally a sign that the digestive tract can use some serious help! Liver-cleansing & nutrient-dense supplements can help get your digestion back on track!
Out of fear of getting too scientific with you guys, I won’t go too into this, but basically, our skin is covered in small holes that connect to oil glands or sebaceous glands (this is where the term “sebum” comes from), beneath the skin. These holes are called PORES. The oil glands produce an oily liquid called sebum & send it to the skin’s surface through a follicle. The oil gets rid of dead skin cells by carrying them through the follicle up to the surface of the skin. Acne occurs when the skin’s pores CLOG UP with dead skin cells, excess oil & sometimes, bacteria. It mainly occurs in three forms: whiteheads, blackheads or pimples.
Let’s be honest, acne ain’t fun. If it’s something you deal with regularly, when you hit your time of the month or when you go through periods of emotional stress, FEAR NOT. There are ways to fight it & to heal it.
P.S. I’ve written a post about my top 6 products to help fight redness & hyper-pigmentation, which might also be a useful read: Kelly’s Top-6 to Fight Skin Redness & Hyper-Pigmentation a.k.a. Hello Even, Calmed, Soothed, Clear & Radiant Skin! Basically, Hello “Skin-Goals”!
First things first, the ultimate goal should always be to HEAL THROUGH FOOD & NUTRITION. I always say that it’s not enough to eat just to eat, but it’s more important to eat for benefits. What I love about this journey towards a healthier lifestyle that I am currently living is that because I do so much research & reading, I know exactly what goes into my body & more importantly, WHY IT DOES. This is why before we get into supplementation, I want to briefly discuss how your nutrition can affect your skin & what foods you can incorporate into your diet to help better your skin condition overall!
Believe it or not, DIET has a much larger effect on our skin than we may think. Certain foods raise blood sugar more rapidly than others & when blood sugar rises quickly, it causes the body to release a hormone called insulin. When you have excess insulin in your blood, oil glands tend to produce more oil, which thereby increases the risk of acne. Some foods that trigger insulin spikes are: pasta, white rice, white bread & refined sugars (all of which are considered high-glycemic carbs & are made up of simple sugars). Basically, you want to avoid highly processed, refined sugars, flours & packaged foods, as well as fried foods & go for nutrient-dense skin-boosting ones.
On the contrary, eating low-glycemic foods (that are low in simply sugars) made of complex carbs may reduce the risk of developing acne, such as: whole grains, legumes, unprocessed fruits & veggies, as well as foods containing zinc, vitamins A & E & antioxidants (as they help reduce inflammation).
Some skin-friendly food choices include: yellow & orange fruits & veggies (carrots, apricots, sweet potatoes),s spinach & other dark leafy greens, tomatoes, blueberries, whole-wheat &/or sprouted bread, brown rice, quinoa, turkey, eggs, avocado, pumpkin seeds, beans, peas, lentils, salmon & other fatty fish & nuts (cashews, especially).
Others also believe that eliminating dairy, gluten & soy may also help contribute to healthier & clearer skin – I can’t speak from first-hand experience regarding the complete elimination of any of those food groups because those are all things that I still consume on an occasional basis. I am a firm believer in not entirely eliminating any food group or category from my diet, unless of course, it’s medically recommended, simply because I think that all healthy, whole & real foods provide certain nutrients that are vital to maintain an overall optimal state of health & well-being. This is my personal take & I’m not here to condemn or criticize anyone who lives a vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free or whatever-free diet. In line with this, please ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT EVERYONE’S BODY & SKIN IS DIFFERENT. Some people might find that they get more acne when they eat certain foods, while others don’t. That’s why it’s necessary to assess your situation personally, even when you’re given advice from others.
(BTW, when it comes to dairy, calcium is important for cell renewal & is involved in the production of antioxidants the can help fight inflammation, which can in turn, help reduce acne. BUT, you need to be careful when choosing where to get your calcium from. Pasteurized-dairy products, such as milk, cheese & yogurt often contain added growth hormones, that can interfere with your hormonal balance when they are absorbed into the bloodstream, and in turn, affect acne. This is why it’s important to read your labels & make sure that the dairy products you are buying are free of added growth hormones & ALSO gravitate towards other foods that are rich in calcium, such as salmon & dark leafy greens!).
Second to food, a good skincare regimen is also necessary to maintain healthy, glowing, youthful & clear skin. Skincare is expensive but the investment in products that contain clean, skin-boosting & soothing ingredients that can help cure or prevent acne is something I believe is well-worth it! While I don’t have acne-prone skin or deal with acne on a regular basis (although I do get the occasional breakout), I do use a lot of products that are preventive, such as: vitamin C serums, collagen, retinol, lactic acid, glycolic acid, skin salves (like Egyptian magic) & essences.
If you want to read about some of the few products I recommend for acne-prone skin, check out my response to the question HERE: Q+A Part Dos! (& feel free to browse the “Beauty” category of my blog for other posts that touch on some of the products I use on my skin regularly & other recommendations!).
Now that we’ve spoken about nutrition & skincare, as you can see, skin-boosting nutrient-dense foods, as well as good skincare products, are crucial in maintaining healthy, glowing, clear skin. However, sometimes, it helps to get an extra dose of some of the nutrients that are vital in preserving the health of our skin. How so? SUPPLEMENTS!
Just like your body, your skin also needs a balance of nutrients to stay healthy (did you guys know your skin is the largest organ in the body?). Obviously, the goal really is to get the best nourishment from your diet, but supplements can help deliver clear skin ready ingredients that are harder to get from food on the regular (for example: chlorella or krill oil).
Basically, the way I see it is that supplements serve as a way to fill the gap between what you apply to your skin as part of your skincare regimen (serums, moisturizers, oils, essences, mists) & nourishing foods. Supplements are a way to get in the necessary therapeutic or medicinal dose of a nutrient that helps with inflammation, hormone balancing or skin repair, that would otherwise be hard to get in on a daily basis.
So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.
What are some of the supplements I recommend in order to fight acne?
- Zinc can help decrease oil production in the skin & can protect against bacterial infection & inflammation.
- Zinc is fundamental in cell division & regrowth. What this means with regards to skin is that it accelerates the development of skin cells necessary for clear skin. When bacteria gets into a blocked pore, it can create irritation that causes pimples to turn red. And, when you have acne prone-skin, your body is more likely to react severely to these irritating bacteria than it would for those with “normal skin”. This is why a zinc supplement helps reduce the inflammatory response to bacteria.
- Zinc is also great for regulating metabolism & hormone levels.
- Zinc is also responsible for transporting Vitamin A. an antiacne nutrient, from the liver.
Probiotics. I know, you thought I was going to say “antibiotics”, right? Yep, because that’s what most dermatologists prescribe to fight acne. However, the problem with antibiotics is that they cause a lot of side effects. Basically, probiotics create & replenish the gut lining with healthy or “good” bacteria that helps to digest your food & better absorb the nutrients. When your gut does not have enough of this good bacteria, it can wreak havoc on your entire body and cause inflammation, including on your skin (80% of your immune system is located in your gut!). By taking a probiotic & allowing for the creation of this good bacteria, your body will be better able to utilize the nutrients from your food and in return, reduce irritation of the skin.
To read more about probiotics & why they are important, check out these blog posts:
- Overwhelmed? Here’s Where To Get Started With Vitamins & Supplements!
- My Top “First Steps” That You Can Take To Embark On Your Journey Towards An Overall Healthier Lifestyle a.k.a. Baby-Step-Mentality-FTW!
- My Daily Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements Routine!
Krill oil contains omega-3 fatty acids & antioxidants (a carotene, called astaxanthin).
- The fats found in krill oil build healthy cell membranes & decrease local swelling & inflammation of deeper skin layers associated with acne.
- The antioxidants work to fight free radicals & prevent damage from the sun & other environmental toxins.
- Krill also has high phospholipid content, so it’s very beneficial for the skin barrier & hydration (and absorbs better than other fish oils!).
If your acne is stress-related, a.k.a., if you notice that it often appears when you have a big exam, a deadline to meet at work or when you’re dealing with emotionally stressful or anxious situations, ashwaganda can help!
- It’s an adaptogen that is amazing for reducing stress, all while strengthening your body & allowing it to reach its optimal state of homeostasis so that it can properly regulate your adrenal system.
- It also contains withanolides (which is a natural antioxidant-filed steroid that limits inflammation in the skin) & also helps your hormonal response to stress.
Chlorella can be especially helpful if your acne is hormonal or dietary!
- It comes from green algae & can help reduce the body’s stress levels & hormonal imbalances.
- It’s super rich in magnesium, which helps diminish stress & aids in the elimination of toxins, as well as reducing inflammation.
- Chlorella has been referred to as superfood green & is also one of the best & most natural ways to detoxify the liver!
B-complex vitamins (which comprise a group of 8 nutrients, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 & B12) help convert carbs, proteins & fats into energy & assist in their digestion. In doing so, they improve immunity, contribute to overall nervous system health & overall health in general.
B vitamins are needed on a continuous basis to preserve the integrity of the skin, hair, eyes & liver. Because the B vitamins work better as a group, supplements and foods containing all eight nutrients are more beneficial over the long-term than those that contain just one or two. This is why I’m suggesting a B-complex!
SEA BUCKTHORN OIL CAPSULES
Sea buckthorn is packed with omega 3, 6, 9 & 7 (which is super rare) & full of antioxidants.
- Like many of the supplements I mentioned, it’s anti-inflammatory, crucial in balancing the skin’s pH levels, repairing skin tissue, treat damaged problematic skin & supporting healthy cell turnover.
- It’s great for dry & acne prone skin, but also great for anyone with normal, oily or combination skin. This all boils down to the whole FIGHT OIL WITH OIL thing.
Basically, the logic behind this is based on the scientific concept of “like dissolving like“, meaning that, substances with similar characteristics dissolve in each other. Ever wonder why oil & water don’t mix & why you can never get oily stains out of your clothing?! THAT’S WHY. Most cleansers are very harsh on the skin & dry it out… & y’all know that dehydrated skin tends to get flaky, dry &… worst part: even end up producing MORE OIL to compensate. When you apply oils topically or take them orally, you help create an environment that dissolves the oils o your skin without drying it out, thereby reducing breakouts, controlling the amount of oil the skin produces & moisturizing the dry & flaky patches.
Pearl supplement is extremely rare & hard to find (I buy mine online from Vitacost & I use the one by Dragon Herbs).
- Basically, it contains calcium, magnesium, tons of amino acids & trace minerals, all of which are important for skin health.
- It’s considered a beauty tonic in China & supports skin rejuvenation, repair & regeneration of skin cells!
Magnesium is an all-around supplement that helps with the most basic pathways & reactions in the body. It increases cell growth & protein production, but also helps balance hormones & helps the nervous system run smoothly, both of which are crucial in preventing acne. It also reduces skin inflammation by lowering concentrations of certain protein connected to the inflammation process within your body.
P.S. By taking magnesium with calcium, you have a better chance of improving the absorption & use of this mineral (You don’t necessarily need to take a calcium supplement with it – just make sure you are getting enough calcium through your nutrition, i.e. salmon, leafy greens, hormone-free dairy products).
Maca helps stabilize & balance hormones, which is crucial if your breakouts coincide with your menstrual cycle. Basically, it works with the endocrine system to help establish balance & acts as an adaptogen to help adrenal glands better cope with stress & adrenal fatigue. You don’t have to take maca ALL THE TIME. If you know that your acne is hormonal as it tends to appear at the same time of the month consistently, you can try taking it about 7-10 days before your menstrual cycle as a preventive measure.
EVENING PRIMROSE OIL
If your acne is painful & cystic, evening primrose oil can definitely help. It’s a great source of omega-6 fatty acids & GLA (another fatty acid), which has tons of anti-inflammatory properties & helps soothe & strengthen your skin’s barrier, as well as helps heal lesions & redness that may have been caused by acne.
VITAMINS A & E
Vitamin E is an anti-inflammatory antioxidant, which encourages healing & may help with acne scarring.
On the other hand, vitamin A contains retinol & carotenoids, which help with growth, development, the immune system & skin cell regeneration. In terms of acne, it functions by preventing the build up of dead skin cells inside the pore & excess production of skin cells that would otherwise cause a clogged pore. Its antioxidant properties also act as an anti-inflammatory & can help calm swollen, red & sore acne breakouts (i.e. cystic acne).
Vitamin C is a popular ingredient in a lot of skincare products, such as serums & moisturizers & RIGHTFULLY SO! It’s full of antioxidants that help fight environmental toxins & free radical damage, as well as help with collagen renewal & absorption! It’s a KEY supplement for healthier, plump, bouncy & radiant skin!
OKAY, now that we’ve got the supplements down-packed, THE PRACTICAL PART:
How much should you take?
As for how much of each supplement to take, I generally follow the serving sizes listed on each supplement! Again, this is what works for me – You may find that you need to take more or less of these supplements based on your personal needs & taking into account your diet! I take them once day, as you guys know, in the morning with my breakfast.
To read more about the supplements that I take daily, CLICK HERE: My Daily Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements Routine!
I hope this was helpful! If you have any questions about where you can find these supplements or what brands I use (I like to switch it up every now & then), please feel free to message me or comment below! xx <3