The Best Acne Supplements for Clear, Flawless Skin

The Best Acne Supplements for Clear, Flawless Skin

I am fre­quent­ly asked if there are any pills or sup­ple­ments that can assist with get­ting rid of acne or help­ing your skin become glow­ing and flaw­less­ness.

In short, the answer is yes.

A study pub­lished in July 2013 by The Uni­ver­si­ty of Afy­on Kocate­pe in Turkey report­ed a cor­re­la­tion between acne and low serum (blood) lev­els of vit­a­m­in A, vit­a­m­in E, and zinc.¹ Fas­ci­nat­ing, right? Fur­ther­more, there are sev­er­al stud­ies (includ­ing this real­ly awe­some one) link­ing oxida­tive stress to acne, which means that coun­ter­act­ing oxi­da­tion (via antiox­i­dants) would be part of the log­i­cal course of treat­ment.

Inflam­ma­tion and oxida­tive stress are the begin­ning of the acne cycle, so if we elim­i­nate those, we break the cycle and thus elim­i­nate acne.

FIRST, MAKE NO MISTAKEYOUR FOOD MATTERS.

I’m not going to willy-nil­ly rec­om­mend sup­ple­ments with­out first remind­ing you of this impor­tant fact. Your food mat­ters. Chee­tos and bagels do not cre­ate healthy tis­sues. You can take all the sup­ple­ments you want, but if you’re chow­ing down on fast food and ice cream sev­er­al times per week, your skin (and most impor­tant­ly, your inter­nal organs) are not going to be healthy.

This is not about becom­ing a strict, stressed out food nut. This is about mak­ing wise choic­es that will nour­ish and sup­port you phys­i­cal­ly, men­tal­ly, and emo­tion­al­ly.

Since you want clear skin, strict­ly avoid the fol­low­ing for the next 4–6 weeks (you can always sneak them in lat­er and enjoy once in a while if you feel like it):

  • Gluten. This means bread, bagels, pas­tries, cere­als, and oth­er processed foods that use wheat or gluten. Wheat and gluten are inflam­ma­to­ry and irri­tate the gut lin­ing. You might think it’s a fad because every­one has been jump­ing on the gluten-free band­wag­on late­ly, but I have been rec­om­mend­ing this step for years because it makes a dif­fer­ence. See how your body feels and your skin looks with­out it.
  • Dairy. This means milk, yogurt (yes, even yogurt for now), ice cream, but­ter, cream, and any oth­er ani­mal-cre­at­ed milk prod­ucts. We want to avoid the intake of hor­mones that exist nat­u­ral­ly in dairy prod­ucts. Some peo­ple do just fine with all dairy, and oth­ers must lim­it their dairy to cer­tain types like goat yogurt or kefir, where­as oth­ers must avoid it alto­geth­er. See what suits you best.
  • Soy. This means tofu, soy sauce, tem­peh, nat­to, and processed soy-based “food” prod­ucts. Miso is fine, but it’s best if you use a soy-free miso for now. Soy con­tains phy­toe­stro­gens – plant estro­gen – that can adverse­ly effect our skin. Again, some peo­ple do fine with fer­ment­ed soy like miso, and oth­ers do best by avoid­ing all soy.
  • Nuts and seeds. None for now. Let’s get you back in bal­ance first before throw­ing in some poten­tial­ly inflam­ma­to­ry omega 6.

Eat and enjoy the fol­low­ing:

  • Seafood. Prefer­ably wild-caught fish, scal­lops, and oys­ters.
  • Beef, lamb, and chick­en. Prefer­ably grass-fed and/or pas­tured and/or organ­ic. Do NOT buy con­ven­tion­al fac­to­ry-farmed meat. It is load­ed with antibi­otics, steroids, med­ica­tions, tox­ins, and oth­er junk that goes straight into your own body. Look for the best pos­si­ble qual­i­ty you can buy.
  • Veg­eta­bles. Go crazy. Buy local and/or organ­ic if you can.
  • Fruit. Enjoy low­er sug­ar fruits for now, like berries. Any berries will do, like blue­ber­ries, rasp­ber­ries, and black­ber­ries. Green apples, cucum­ber, toma­to, lemons, and limes are also super low sug­ar fruits that are great to enjoy. If you want a high­er sug­ar fruit like a banana, pineap­ple, mel­on, etc. enjoy a small­er quan­ti­ty.
  • Sweet pota­to. Eat in mod­er­a­tion. A great source of car­bo­hy­drates (you need carbs, espe­cial­ly if you’re a wom­an or if you train reg­u­lar­ly) and vit­a­m­in A (beta-carotene).

THE BEST SUPPLEMENTS FOR CLEAR SKIN.

Talk to your doc­tor about any sup­ple­ments you plan on tak­ing, espe­cial­ly if you have a diag­nosed med­ical con­di­tion.

Vit­a­m­in A, vit­a­m­in E, zinc, and antiox­i­dants such as vit­a­m­in C, EGCG (from green tea), astax­an­thin, B vit­a­mins, turmer­ic, sily­mar­in (from milk thistle), and glu­tathione (you won’t get much ben­e­fit from tak­ing pre-formed glu­tathione, so take a pre­cur­sor like N-acetyl cys­teine) are all ben­e­fi­cial for treat­ing acne.

Dur­ing the study, how­ev­er, only three sup­ple­ments were test­ed. All groups were treat­ed with one sup­ple­ment each plus a night­ly top­i­cal appli­ca­tion of a rose antiox­i­dant cream. Cream Rec­om­men­da­tions: Dr. Alkaitis Organ­ic Night CrèmeMUN No.1 Aknari Night­time Dream Youth Serum, or Weleda Wild Rose Smooth­ing Night Cream. The groups were not given all three acne sup­ple­ments at once, yet every group had sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tion in acne lesions and improve­ment in blood mark­ers (glu­tathione, IL-8, etc.). Keep this in mind when you sup­ple­ment. You don’t need to load your­self up with lots of stuff – try one thing at a time and give it 4–6 weeks to show results.

Group one received 210 mg of sily­mar­in dai­ly (one 70 mg tablet 3x/day after meals). Sily­mar­in Rec­om­men­da­tions: Pure Encap­su­la­tions Sily­mar­in, Jar­row For­mu­las Milk Thistle.

Group two received 1,200 mg of N-acetyl cys­teine (NAC) dai­ly (one 600 mg tablet twice dai­ly). NAC Rec­om­men­da­tions: NOW Foods Nac-Acetyl Cys­teine 600mg (also con­tains 25 mcg sele­ni­um), Pure Encap­su­la­tions NAC 600 mg (my favorite brand).

Group three received 200 mcg of sele­ni­um dai­ly (one 100 mcg tablet twice dai­ly). Sele­ni­um Rec­om­men­da­tions: NOW Foods Sele­ni­um.

DIM Detox. An amaz­ing sup­ple­ment for help­ing the body elim­i­nate xenoe­stro­gens and assist with hor­mone metab­o­lism and elim­i­na­tion. Peo­ple who get cys­tic acne (the type that forms hard red bumps under the skin that do not always sur­face) and who get blem­ish­es around the jaw­line and chin are usu­al­ly suf­fer­ing from hor­mone imbal­ance and may find this sup­ple­ment to be par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive. It may take 2–4 weeks to start to notice a change, but that depends on the indi­vid­u­al. There is anoth­er DIM sup­ple­ment called EstroBlock which many peo­ple find effec­tive, though I prefer the well-round­ed ingre­di­ents in DIM Detox and I trust the man­u­fac­tur­er. EstroBlock has a high­er amount of DIM, which might be bet­ter for sev­ere hor­mone imbal­ance, so you may wish to have your hor­mone lev­els eval­u­at­ed and exper­i­ment to see which DIM sup­ple­ment works best for you.

EXAMPLE SUPPLEMENT ROUTINE.

Like I said before, don’t go crazy and buy every sup­ple­ment in the store. Try a few things at a time and see what works best for you.

My per­son­al sup­ple­ment reg­i­men is pret­ty sim­ple and inex­pen­sive:

¹Eval­u­a­tion of serum vit­a­mins A and E and zinc lev­els accord­ing to the sever­i­ty of acne vul­gar­is, Ozuguz P, et al.

I hope you found this help­ful! In case you want more infor­ma­tion on diet and sup­ple­ments for acne and oth­er skin con­di­tions, feel free to look at my oth­er posts or enjoy my book.
~Steph  x

28 Comments

  1. Very nice arti­cle! Actu­al­ly I was won­der­ing a lot about which sup­ple­ments to take. But what about vit­a­m­in A, E, C , zinc and oth­er anti oxy­dants? What is your opin­ion on this? 

    For me it’s quite com­pli­cat­ed, I live in a board­ing school, the food isn’t so great a lot of meat and pota­to and oil, so frus­trat­ing and very hard to eat veg­gie, the good part is I can have as much fruit as I want but they are the same every­day… What would you rec­om­mend to try to make it less bad? I don’t drink milk and avoid bread, here it’s rye bread most­ly though…is it any bet­ter?

    I take this sup­ple­ments: some herbs rec­om­mend­ed for the skins (bur­dock roots, milk thistle…), zinc (30mg a day), fish oil (3 times a day). That’s it for now but I have been advised vit­a­m­in C and A but I want to take it easy because my skin is much bet­ter now… 

    I also think my acne is most­ly due to hor­mone imbal­ance and diges­tion (what a doc­tor said).

    Reply
    • Rye bread also has gluten. 

      Reply
  2. What is N-acetyl cys­teine made-up of? Is it a nat­u­ral ingre­di­ent? What’s the role of it in treat­ing acne? And last­ly, any poten­tial side effects? I am cur­rent­ly con­sum­ing the­se sup­ple­ments : Vit D, DIM, Zinc, Milk Thistle and Vit C.
    Thanks for this won­der­ful post btw! Appre­ci­ate it 🙂

    Reply
    • @Katie

      N-acetyl cys­teine is one of the those words that looks harm­ful but is actu­al­ly a safe ingre­di­ent. Its been used for decades and has been proven to not only be safe but very impor­tant in things like can­cer pre­ven­tion.

      To be more pre­cise it actu­al­ly made from the amino acid L-cys­teine. It does act as an anti-oxi­dant in pro­tect­ing your cells. I post­ed a link to see the many uses and under­stat­ed impor­tance of this com­pound below
      http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2010/may2010_N-Ace

      ~Hope this helps,
      Chelsea 

      Reply
      • I have been tak­ing N-Acetyl Cys­tein for years with no side effects. It is also the cure for Aceteminophen (Tylenol) over­dose. I actu­al­ly start­ed tak­ing it to thin the mucous in my lungs since I had sev­ere COPD. It most­ly cleared that up for me and com­plete­ly cleared after adding mucinex to the mix.

        One great side effect hap­pened dur­ing all of this… My cys­tic acne has almost com­plete­ly dis­ap­peared! No more on my face at all!!! I added a testos­terone block­er for my chin acne (old lady prob­lem) and that has cleared up as well. 

        Reply
  3. Hey steph. I am won­der­ing how to heal your gut? Is it just elim­i­nat­ing the foods men­tioned in your book? Also, I cut out gluten and noticed a pos­tivr dif­fer­ence in MY skin. That being said every­time I eat Chia seeds I get a few pim­ples in places that I don’t get break­outs in very often? Does that mean I’m aller­gic or my gut isn’t absorbing it right? I just don’t even know. Last thing l, what do you think about yourtea and there teas there? Any good think­ing about their tinytea as well as the hertea.

    Reply
  4. Thank you for this! I’ve been tak­ing Green Pas­tures Fer­ment­ed Cod Liv­er Oil/Butter Oil Blend as a sup­ple­ment for 4–5 weeks because I’ve read some amaz­ing sto­ries about it clear­ing up some people’s acne. Sad­ly it doesn’t yet seem to be hav­ing the same effect on my acne, although I’m going to con­tine tak­ing it for some whle to see. I won­der why it’s not been as effec­tive for me. Do you think N-Acetyl Cys­teine might work instead, even though the cod liv­er oil with its vit­a­m­in blend hasn’t? I also won­der whether its OK to take N-Acetyl Cys­teine along with col­la­gen sup­ple­ments? I’d like to start tak­ing col­la­gen, but am unsure of a good qual­i­ty brand. Might you pos­si­bly rec­om­mend one?
    I’m so excit­ed to place an order on Epic Beau­ty Bar! I won­der when you might be get­ting in the W3LL nud­ist col­or­balm lip tints? Sor­ry to flood you with ques­tions! Thank you again 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Gem­ma!

      Some­times it can take longer, but it also might be some­thing else that you need to cor­rect. For instance, if you are tak­ing the cod liv­er oil sup­ple­ment but still eat­ing wheat and sug­ar, you are still going to break out. NAC is quite effec­tive accord­ing to the stud­ies, and is also a use­ful sup­ple­ment for over­all health and anti-aging since it is a pre­cur­sor to glu­tathione, the body’s own mas­ter antiox­i­dant (here’s some great info on it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/gluta.… Yes, you can take NAC alongside col­la­gen sup­ple­ments, how­ev­er, it is best to take gelat­in, since pre-formed col­la­gen is not very effec­tive. You have to take sup­ple­ments and eat foods that pro­mote the body’s own abil­i­ty to main­tain col­la­gen, such as sul­fur, NAC, ensur­ing you do not eat any or very lit­tle sug­ar (sug­ar destroys col­la­gen and elastin via gly­ca­tion), gelat­in, and pro­tein. I like this gelatin/collagen sup­ple­ment: http://amzn.to/17Uh4ia.

      Aww yay! I am look­ing for­ward to pick­ing out sam­ples for you when you do your order! What is your skin type or main skin con­cerns — break­outs and anti-aging? 

      W3LL Peo­ple will be in stock by the end of Novem­ber. :))

      ~Steph x

      Reply
  5. Hi Steph!

    Aw, that’s real­ly sweet! Your advice is much appre­ci­at­ed, as are your posts. I’ve always thought the “sil­ver lin­ing” of my devel­op­ing acne was dis­cov­er­ing your blog whilst google search­ing for ways to cure it. Your posts have done won­ders to help me improve my skin and over­all health and well­be­ing, and have made me much more informed! Thank you for the links. I’m real­ly look­ing for­ward to start­ing NAC for a tri­al peri­od from next mon­th. I’d searched for col­la­gen sup­ple­ments online, but hadn’t felt con­fi­dent to go with the ones I’d found. The gelat­in pro­duct looks like what I’m after! I’ve had cys­tic acne on my cheeks and chin for the past two years. Close mon­i­tor­ing of my skin over the longterm made me realise that the cysts all orig­i­nate from blackheads/blocked pores/subclinical blem­ish­es. I have to address the­se black­heads etc. two or three times a week by doing self-facials like rec­om­mend­ed in your old­er posts on blackheads/subclinical acne. Remov­ing them enables me to keep my acne moderate/mild rather than sev­ere as it would oth­er­wise be. Unfor­tu­nate­ly if I stop doing the facials for a few days the con­di­tion of my skin becomes very bad again! I wish I knew the under­ly­ing cause of the prob­lem. I guess it’s enlarged pores that are in turn the result of an inter­nal imbal­ance. My diet has always been quite healthy and bal­anced (with very lim­it­ed sug­ar and no junk food), but I haven’t yet been able to com­plete­ly cut out wheat and dairy because of who I live with. I real­ly hope to in the near future! I thought to try col­la­gen because my skin always looks tired and dull as a result of being under stress from the acne. I also have lines I can’t get rid of, that appeared after sev­er­al months of using ben­zoyl per­ox­ide last year, as well as quite a few indent­ed scars left behind by some sev­ere cys­tic blem­ish­es!

    I’m real­ly keen to try W3LL, fan­tas­tic! I can’t wait to place an order with you in the next fort­night. Your shop and stock are look­ing so great! Thank you again for your help 🙂 

    Reply
  6. Great advice, great post! Glad I have found your blog 

    Reply
  7. Hey

    Do you think NAC is safe given the find­ings on pul­monary hyper­ten­sion report­ed in the link Designed
    For Detox post­ed above? I’m think­ing of try­ing it, but I have asth­ma and so am a bit scared. 

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Emi­ly! There’s an impor­tant part in the study regard­ing pul­monary hyper­ten­sion: “the dos­es they used cor­re­spond to a human dose of about 20 grams (20,000 mg) per day—far above any known sup­ple­ment rec­om­men­da­tion.” The amount of NAC used in the acne treat­ment study was only 1,200 mg…waaaay below the mice dose in the PAH study. Here’s anoth­er point: “A study of human vol­un­teers revealed that NAC sup­ple­ments at 1,800 mg/day increased the healthy res­pi­ra­to­ry respon­se to hypox­ia, which nor­mal­ly decli­nes strong­ly with age and may con­tribute to PAH.” So the study seems to point to lit­tle to no risk, and a ben­e­fit. I would speak to your doc­tor and see what he says, as well. 🙂 

      ~Steph x

      Reply
  8. Thank you for your reply Steph! I’m reas­sured, that’s good rea­son­ing! Do you think plain organ­ic rose water would make a good top­i­cal ton­er to try too? 

    Reply
    • No prob­lem, Emi­ly. 🙂 Organ­ic rose water is a great toner/hydrosol. Give it a try and see how you like it! 

      ~Steph x

      Reply
  9. Are organ­ic full grain rice flour and carob pow­der ok in your diet? Thank you. 

    Reply
  10. Hi Steph,

    I think you may have talked about this else­where, but I can’t find the post :(. What are your thoughts about cook­ware? I just got a Le Creuset enam­el coat­ed steel stock pot for my birth­day. I’ve heard mixed things about whether enam­el coat­ing is safe. I’ve also heard that steel can leech small amount of tox­ic met­als into your food. What do you use for cook­ing? Also, what are your thoughts on oat­meal? Thanks! 

    Scout

    Reply
    • Hey Scout,

      So for cook­ware, I use most­ly glass and enam­el cook­ware (not made in Chi­na). I love Le Creuset’s French-made pieces. The steel stock pot is made in Thai­land, I believe. I would not be con­cerned about it though – porce­lain enam­el is just a mix of min­er­als and met­al oxides like cobalt and borax. Stain­less steel is not harm­ful to us either – per­haps you were think­ing of alu­minum? Oat­meal is great for some and not so great for oth­ers, it depends on how your body feels about it. Per­son­al­ly, I enjoy it once in a while made with almond milk and blue­ber­ries, and I only rec­om­mend the organ­ic gluten-free vari­ety (not steel cut, since even though it’s high­er in fiber, it’s way hard­er to digest). 

      ~Steph x

      Reply
  11. Hi Steph, first of all I’m super thank­ful I found your blog and YAY to Cana­di­an free ship­ping that Epic Beau­ty Bar does!!!!!!!! 

    I’ve suf­fered from break­outs for about 1.5 yrs now, well I used to only get some here n there before/ dur­ing my peri­od but start­ing late 2012 I’ve been break­ing out like crazy.….. all year round 🙁
    Oth­er changes I’ve noticed is that my peri­od becomes irreg­u­lar, to the point where I didn’t get any for straight 2 months (I am 19 yr old) n that’s when I knew some­thing to do with my hor­mones must have caused all the­se.

    April 2013 —> a friend who’s natur­opath, told me a lit­tle about tox­ic liv­er and how it could be the cause, and he advised me to take Cod Liv­er Oil, Vit­a­m­in B-12, Lac­to­bacil­lus Aci­dophilus, and a IntestiNew from Renew Life, a scoop of it mixed w water every morn­ing) but those didn’t seem to do any­thing (or may­be I just had to wait longer? I’ve stopped using them after only about one mon­th tak­ing).

    June 2013 –> I went back to my home coun­try for sum­mer hol­i­day. I couldn’t be more patient, so I asked my mom to look for a der­ma­tol­o­gist and we went there, got a pre­scrip­tion which I guess was antibi­otics or some­thing, but the first thing I noticed right after tak­ing those is that my peri­od came back to nor­mal and acne was clear­ing up.…only for two months. 

    Sep­tem­ber 2013 –> But right when I stopped using it (because I was afraid of being depen­dent for the rest of my life), the acne came back and now I’m still try­ing to fig­ure out what do I have to do. 

    NOW –> I’ve done some research and read­ings on hor­mon­al imbal­ance and I high­ly sus­pect it could be the case, so I’m look­ing for good sup­ple­ments that are safe for me to take. 

    I’m cur­rent­ly 20 yr old, tak­ing Vit D (it’s win­ter here in Canada) in the morn­ing, MSM dur­ing lunch and Cod Liv­er Oil before bed. SOme­times Chlorel­la or Spir­uli­na in my berry smooth­ies, too. 

    I’ve com­plete­ly changed my diet & lifestyle, been eat­ing clean (organ­ic green juice most­ly every­day, all organ­ic fruits and wheat, dairy (I use almond milk now), meat free diet (some­times organ­ic chick­en and fish in sushi but no beef/pork/red meat) and exer­cise at least twice a week) but idk what else should I do…so that’s why I’m look­ing for sup­ple­ments that hope­ful­ly will help. 

    I have two ques­tions and would real­l­ly real­ly real­ly appre­ci­ate your help!!!! 

    1) I’ve just bought DIM Detox from your Epic Beau­ty Bar, and is it safe to take it along with Vit D, MSM and Cod Liv­er oil? Or should I stop tak­ing them and focus on the detox for a peri­od of time, then once I’m done I get back to those three? 

    2) Would you rec­om­mend me tak­ing B-Com­plex pills and NAC, like what you do in your rou­tine?

    I know this is a lot of info and ques­tions.….. but zil­lion thanks in advance for your help, have a great day !!! <3

    Reply
  12. I actu­al­ly had a ques­tion. It is said that peo­ple liv­ing in dif­fer­ent parts of the world have dif­fer­ent type of acne and their treat­ment may also be dif­fer­ent. How true is this? 

    Reply
  13. I saw your fan­tas­tic info, and I knew that I just had to leave a com­ment con­grat­u­lat­ing you on a job well done. I actu­al­ly was think­ing about putting an info graph­ic togeth­er for acne treat­ments as well, but I did not end up hav­ing the time to get it done well. 

    Reply
  14. What do you think about biot­in sup­ple­ments?

    Reply
    • Hi! They’re not for acne, and some­times peo­ple get blem­ish­es from too much biot­in, but that’s not 100% of the time. They’re use­ful for hair growth though! 

      Steph x

      Reply
  15. Your guide­li­nes are quite use­ful for acne suf­fer­ers to get rid of such skin prob­lem. The type of food we eat has an effect on our skin, it is impor­tant to avoid oily and junk food and eat healthy food to con­trol acne and have a healthy skin. 

    Reply
  16. Hey steph. I am won­der­ing how to heal your gut? Is it just elim­i­nat­ing the foods men­tioned in your book? Also, I cut out gluten and noticed a pos­tivr dif­fer­ence in MY skin. That being said every­time I eat Chia seeds I get a few pim­ples in places that I don’t get break­outs in very often? Does that mean I’m aller­gic or my gut isn’t absorbing it right? I just don’t even know. Last thing l, what do you think about yourtea and there teas there? Any good think­ing about their tinytea as well as the hertea.
    Out­sourced IT Ser­vices

    Reply
  17. Great advice and great post! Glad I found your blog. Can you tell me if cook­ing the food in healthy cook­ware helps clear skin? 

    Reply
  18. Hi I break­out very often and more cys­tic acne few days before day 1 of my cycle. I start­ed tak­ing DIM 3 weeks ago and I’m about to start my peri­od and I broke out bad. I am not sure if I should keep tak­ing it or not. I am also think­ing about Vitex or MSM. I have very nor­mal Peri­ods every 28 days for like 4 days. I do get mood swings and fatigue, acne and irri­tabil­i­ty. No cramps, no miss­ing peri­ods, I’ve nev­er been on the pill. I don’t eat dairy or gluten. 

    Reply
  19. This tips can be very help­ful for many per­sons. Thanks for shar­ing. I read it on many site that food is one of the major fac­tor that effects the skin. So hav­ing a prop­er food can play a major role for get­ting flaw­less skin. Sup­ple­ments can also work pret­ty well but we have to be very care­ful while choos­ing it. 

    Reply

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