Most of the people who come to see us for help with treating their hormonal acne have been on a long journey of discovery.
They have typically tried everything from topicals to restrictive diets to harsh and expensive skin treatments, and all of them say the information available is confusing and conflicting!
Part of the reason for this is that so much information available is based on the acne treatment of an individual. This gives rise to many differing opinions as everyone’s acne experience is so different and so is what it took to heal their hormonal acne.
So whether you have mild or severe acne, it’s important to get to the bottom of what’s causing your acne. You need to discover what your underlying hormonal imbalance is before you try and treat it.
So before you start taking any of the vitamins you’ve read and heard about for healing hormonal acne we need to look at what the root cause of acne is and then the best vitamins to use.
What Causes Hormonal Acne (Acne Vulgaris)?
Hormonal acne is generally caused by excess sebum production triggered by hormone imbalances. The common imbalances we see are –
- increased levels of male hormones like testosterone
- low levels of female hormones like estrogen or progesterone in women
- overproduction of stress hormones like cortisol and DHEA
So women and men who experience pimples on their jaw, cheeks, chin area or body are most likely experiencing hormonal acne due to one of these hormone imbalances.
For more information read our post: What causes Hormonal Acne
Test, Don’t Guess!
The key then to balance hormones and eliminate acne is not to take a bunch of random vitamins you heard about on social media but to first understand what’s driving your acne.
The way we go about this is to first have a consultation with you. This helps us get to know you and your acne situation. We investigate for signs of hormone imbalances such as PMS, breast tenderness, and menstrual cycle irregularities in women. And oily skin, oily hair, and excess hair growth in both men and women.
Then we investigate hormone levels by getting your hormones tested. This is to paint a thorough picture of the interaction between your stress and sex hormones and provides the information we need to pinpoint what is causing your hormonal imbalance.
Once the main causative factors are identified, we can then balance your hormones with specific vitamins and supplements for hormonal acne.
There’s no magic pill or set of supplements to fix acne, a holistic approach is required that takes into account your hormones, your stress levels, your lifestyle and your diet to determine the exact vitamins and supplements you will need.
For further information on testing check out our additional resources here:
How Do Vitamin Deficiencies Cause Hormonal Acne?
Vitamin deficiencies can potentially contribute to the development of hormonal acne, although the relationship between the two is complex and not fully understood.
Vitamins play crucial roles in maintaining overall skin health and function. They are involved in processes such as collagen synthesis, regulation of sebum production, and skin defence mechanisms.
When certain vitamins are deficient in the body, it disrupts these processes and contributes to the development or exacerbation of acne.
As an example, vitamin A is extremely important to reduce inflammation and help with skin cell turnover, so if you are deficient in vitamin A it can contribute to breakouts.
Can Vitamins Prevent Hormonal Acne Breakouts?
Since we know that vitamin deficiencies can contribute to hormonal acne, it follows then that having sufficient vitamin levels helps to prevent breakouts by maintaining skin health.
We need vitamins for all of our daily bodily processes including digestion, energy production and detoxification. This means then that there is a constant need to top these up with your diet.
But because of modern farming practices and the processing of food some vitamins, such as B vitamins and vitamin D, aren’t supplied in the diet easily as readily as they used to be so this is where oral supplements come in handy.
The Top 10 Vitamins for Clear Skin
A balanced diet is crucial for overall skin health, but there are several vitamins that when taken supplementally that have been found to promote clear skin.
Here are what we consider the top 10 vitamin supplements for hormonal acne.
How they help:
B vitamins, including niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), and cobalamin (B12), are involved in various metabolic processes in the body. Deficiencies or insufficiencies in these vitamins can affect hormonal balance and impact skin health, and contribute to the development of hormonal acne.
How it helps:
When used topically, B3 helps to reduce inflammation, reduce bacteria, and reduce sebum production.
As an oral supplement, B3 also helps with energy production and supports cell repair via its antioxidant properties.
How it helps:
Vitamin B6 is required for the production of serotonin and melatonin. So low B6 can really impact your sleep and activate your stress response which then disrupts hormone production.
Vitamin B6 is also critical for hormone detoxification.
Foods like tuna, salmon, chicken breast, potato, and nuts contain B6, so if you are a vegetarian or vegan it might be necessary to use an oral vitamin supplement to treat acne.
How it helps:
Vitamin B12 can help to balance bacterial growth in the skin associated with acne. It also supports energy and liver detoxification to ensure that our hormones are being detoxified properly.
This is a great one to check in a blood test if you are experiencing low energy. B12 supplements come in various forms such as sprays, tablets, and drops to make them more readily absorbed.
Much like Vitamin B6, B12 is found predominantly in animal products, so vegetarians and vegans should test B12 regularly and use a supplement if their levels are low.
How it helps:
Vitamin E has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help protect the skin from oxidative damage. Inadequate levels of vitamin E can impair the skin’s defence mechanisms, making it more susceptible to inflammation and acne formation
How it helps:
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is considered a steroid and plays a significant role in sex hormone production. So if levels are low hormone production is disrupted and this can be a trigger of acne.
Vitamin D plays a role in modulating the immune system and reducing inflammation. Inadequate levels of vitamin D may lead to an overactive immune response and increase inflammation, which can worsen acne symptoms.
The best way to get vitamin D is via the sun, so early morning skin exposure can help to increase your levels. However, if you are deficient it might not be enough to get your levels up. It’s important to check your vitamin D levels, particularly in winter when you don’t get as much sun.
How it helps:
Adequate levels of vitamin A are important for reducing oil production and preventing the formation of clogged pores. Vitamin A insufficiency can lead to increased sebum production and contribute to the development of acne.
Vitamin A is also sold as topical retinoids so it is important to note that oral Vitamin A supplements have a different effect to topical treatments.
How it helps:
The immune health benefits of vitamin C are widely known, but what is not as widely known is Vitamin C is great for skin health because of its antioxidant properties.
You may have seen it as an ingredient in topical vitamin serums, but internally vitamin C is critical for supporting skin cell integrity.
When taken as an oral supplement, Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory effects to reduce inflammation and support clearer skin.
It also supports collagen production, which is super important for glowing healthy skin.
Citrus fruits are well known to contain vitamin C, but for a therapeutic effect you’ll need vitamin C supplements for hormonal acne because food sources just don’t contain enough.
How it helps:
Folate (folic acid) is essential for hormone detoxification and energy production. If you don’t have enough folate, you can’t detoxify hormones completely. This results in hormone overload, hormone imbalance, overstimulation of hormone receptors and hormonal acne.
Some people have a genetic condition (MTHFR polymorphism) that makes them unable to use folic acid effectively. For people with this condition, they need to supplement with a special type of folate.
There is a simple genetic test that can be done through your doctor and online to determine if you have this genetic predisposition.
How it helps:
Myo-inositol helps regulate insulin levels. This is important when it comes to acne because high insulin levels (insulin resistance) can trigger excess production of acne causing hormones like testosterone.
Myo-inositol also helps calm redness, reduce swelling and fight off harmful free radicals that damage your skin.
What about Zinc, Magnesium, Fish Oil & Probiotics for Balancing Hormones?
While not vitamins these are great supplements for hormonal acne too. These natural supplements work synergistically with vitamins to balance your hormones and give you clear skin.
Zinc is not only helpful for your immune system, but it also supports healthy skin by ensuring optimal skin cell turnover. This makes sure that skin cells don’t clog up your pores and sebaceous glands and cause acne.
Zinc also decreases oil production which helps to reduce inflammation and breakouts. However, it’s important to work with a trained professional because you can take too much zinc and cause other problems.
Magnesium is crucial for blood sugar and insulin balance. Two factors that can affect the production of acne causing hormones.
This mineral is also excellent for supporting stress levels, and as mentioned stress hormones can cause imbalances in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels that can trigger acne.
Fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties because it is rich in omega 3. This healthy fat helps reduce acne and also supports ovulation to help correct hormonal imbalances that can cause acne.
Most people don’t tend to get enough omega 3 in their diet so a supplement can really help.
Fish oil can also be helpful for other skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.
In your digestive system, you have billions of beneficial bacteria that play an important role in regulating hormone levels and eliminating toxins.
So gut health can be very important for hormone health and acne.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that you need inside your gut microbiome to neutralise the effects of harmful gut bacteria.
There are hundreds of probiotics supplements available but only a few have been shown to be helpful so it’s wise to speak with a healthcare professional before spending hundreds of dollars on supplements that aren’t quite right!
Will Vitamins Cure My Severe Acne Breakouts?
As mentioned earlier the secret to fixing acne naturally is with a holistic approach so vitamins and supplements on their own can’t completely cure severe breakouts.
However, they can go a long way to correcting the hormonal imbalances that can be the root cause of your skin issues.
But before you start taking any of these supplements it’s important to discover if you need them.
Most of them are water soluble and so are extremely safe, anything taken in the wrong dose, the wrong amount, or the wrong form can be dangerous.
The brand of vitamin you take is equally important because some over-the-counter supplements contain uselessly low amounts or use a form that isn’t readily absorbed by the body.
But far more important than taking oral supplements or using topicals like retinol is to pinpoint the underlying cause of your acne first.
This is where we have the experience and expertise to help you.
What should I do next?
If you have acne and skin concerns, and have tried every treatment, and been to see everyone from an acupuncturist to a board-certified dermatologist and still have acne then you are in the right place to get some answers!
We have helped over 1000 women and men including YouTube and Instagram stars Sarah from Sarah’s Day and Luoise from My Better Self fix their acne naturally.
Our motto is ‘Test don’t guess’!
We get to the root cause of your acne before creating a personalised supplement plan for you. To get help from one of our acne specialist naturopaths click here.