best supplements for hormonal acne

The 10 Best Vitamins and Supplements for Hormonal Acne

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: Acne, Herbs & Supplements Leave a Comment

If you deal with hormonal acne, you know how frustrating it can be. People assume that hormonal acne stops after puberty, but that's not always the case. In fact, many women continue to deal with hormonal acne well into their 20s and 30s and even during perimenopause.

There are several reasons people get breakouts, but primarily hormonal acne is related to imbalances of excess androgen production, the main culprit behind hormonal acne. Androgens are a class of hormones that includes testosterone and DHEA, both of which can contribute to excess sebum production and clogged pores.

The truth is that there is no one cure for hormonal acne, and clearing up your skin often needs a holistic approach. Lifestyle habits such as good skin care and a healthy diet are foundational, and supplements can be especially helpful to fill in nutritional gaps or add beneficial levels of specific nutrients for the skin.

In this article, I'll share my top ten supplement picks for hormonal acne. These are products I regularly use in practice with my patients to help balance hormones, calm inflammation, and help reduce the appearance of acne so you can feel confident in your skin.

My Top 10 Vitamin and Supplement Recommendations for Hormonal Acne

Each of these supplements has evidence in clinical studies for hormonal acne or are nutrients that are known essentials for skin health.

Zinc

Many health practitioners recommend zinc in their approach to hormonal acne. Zinc is a mineral involved in skin health and collagen synthesis. It helps with acne in several ways, including lowering sebum production (possibly by reducing androgens) and helping to maintain proper levels of inflammation. Yes, while too much inflammation is problematic, the body does need to maintain healthy levels as part of our immune defense. 

Inflammation contributes to breakouts by worsening acne and by delaying healing. Zinc also has antimicrobial properties, which can help reduce bacteria on the skin that contribute to acne.

Several studies show that taking 400 to 600 mg of zinc sulfate each day for 12 weeks reduced inflammatory acne and had similar results as taking antibiotics, a treatment often used for severe acne. This is considered a high dose of zinc. High doses of zinc are associated with upset stomach and nausea. Whereas, low zinc levels are also associated with more severe breakouts. Part of the reason a study would use a high zinc concentration is because of the form of zinc administered—zinc sulfate is not as bioavailable and easily absorbed as other forms. So, if you use a more readily available zinc then benefits may be seen at lower dosages.

Zinc is found primarily in shellfish (oysters are one of the top sources), organ meat, beans, and pumpkin seeds. Typically, research doesn’t focus on increasing dietary sources of zinc—instead, supplementation is usually the focus of research on zinc for acne and seems to provide the most benefit. Taking too much zinc over time could lead to copper deficiency, so it's helpful to take a supplement that includes both copper and zinc in optimal ratios.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a go-to nutrient for skin health, and while it's usually used in topical treatments as retinol or retinoids, oral vitamin A could help too. Some research suggests that Vitamin A has anti-inflammatory effects because it promotes the body's antioxidant response, which may make it easier for your cells to clear out free radicals that could damage skin issues.

Vitamin A could also reduce sebum production from the sebaceous glands. However, there's more research on topical vitamin A than oral vitamin A in regards to this, so a combo of both may be your best bet for brighter skin.

You can find a type of vitamin A known as provitamin A in many fruits and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash. Provitamin A converts to retinol, also known as preformed vitamin A. Provitamin A is from plants and you know them as carotenoids. Previtamin A is found in animal foods, dairy and organ meat.

If you take supplemental vitamin A, it's usually helpful to take it as part of a multivitamin to make sure you take the right amount. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means your body stores any extra and can build up excess amounts if you take too much. 

If you’re pregnant, it is important to limit the amount of provitamin A you consume. While some is beneficial, too much can be potentially harmful to a developing baby. Look for a prenatal vitamin that contains a combination of provitamin A and carotenoids like our Prenatal Plus.

DIM (Diindolylmethane)

If you've heard that cruciferous veggies like kale, cabbage, cauliflower, or broccoli are good for detoxification, a big reason why is because of DIM. DIM is a phytonutrient that I use all the time to support healthy hormone balance

DIM works by reducing androgen production that contributes to acne (making it an especially helpful supplement for PCOS). It also promotes healthy estrogen detoxification, which is essential for people with estrogen dominance.

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DIM is a derivative of indole-three-carbinol (I3C), also present in cruciferous veggies. However, I3C is not as well absorbed as DIM, so supplementation may be a good option. Supplemental DIM may be more bioavailable, meaning you can absorb more than you'd get from food. Still, since these veggies have so many other health benefits, I usually suggest eating your veggies and supplementing with DIM for optimally balanced hormones. 

Our Balance Women’s Hormone Support contains DIM, along with other nutrients that support healthy estrogen and testosterone levels. Combined with Saw Palmetto Plus, it can be highly beneficial for hormone levels that support clear skin.

Vitamin D 

I've seen vitamin D help with many skin issues, including acne. Vitamin D may work by calming inflammation, which can worsen acne breakouts. Since vitamin D is so vital for immune health, and the health of your skin is impacted by your immune system, it could help regulate immune pathways involved in acne.

Some research also suggests a link between low vitamin D status and worsening acne that improves with targeted supplementation. The best way to get vitamin D is from sun exposure, but during the winter or if you don't spend much time outside, supplementation may be necessary to reach an optimal level. You can also find small amounts of vitamin D in fatty fish, eggs, and mushrooms, but probably not enough to bring up your vitamin D status if you have suboptimal levels.

Probiotics for Healthy Skin

Studies on the gut-skin connection link the health of your digestive system to the appearance of your skin. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help balance the microbiome to help keep your gut working as it should. Taking probiotics adds targeted strains of healthy bacteria to help rebalance the gut and quiet inflammation that contributes to skin and hormone imbalances.

Studies show that probiotics could not only reduce the severity of acne that is caused by unfriendly bacterial growth, it also has a positive effect on immune cells in the skin. Probiotics can cool down inflammatory cytokines (the chemical messengers of inflammation) to potentially reduce the redness, swelling, and pain associated with acne.

Look for probiotics with Lactobacillus rhamnosus as this strain has been shown to improve insulin and the appearance of acne

Probiotics could also address hormone imbalances as estrogen detoxification relies on a well-functioning gut. Your gut microbiome is a crucial regulator of estrogen metabolism, so keeping it strong with probiotic-rich foods or supplementation is essential for clear skin and balanced hormones.

You can find probiotics in fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi. But for specifically targeted strains (there are thousands of different species of microbes in your gut), supplementation can be beneficial. 

Including prebiotics as part of your probiotic routine is just as important too. Prebiotics are food for probiotics, so they help keep them alive and thriving in your gut. You can find prebiotics in foods like garlic, onions, bananas, asparagus or in supplements.

Our Women’s Probiotic contains a blend of Lactobacillus species, a prebiotic, and antioxidants to support overall gut health and skin.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that could help the skin. People reach for topical vitamin E products for skin regeneration and healing, but maintaining optimal levels in your body is also important. 

One study found that low levels of vitamin E, along with vitamin A, were associated with acne. Another study found similar results where people with low levels of vitamin E had higher rates of acne, eczema, and psoriasis. You can get vitamin E from nuts, seeds, and oils, but supplements are an option for additional support. 

Myo-inositol

Myo-inositol is a supplement that I often use, especially with people with acne and PCOS. Acne is so common with PCOS because of the excess androgen production that leads to inflammation and hormonal imbalances. Myo-inositol can help by reducing androgen production (reducing sebum production) and increasing insulin sensitivity.

Myo-inositol is a nutrient that's closely related to the B-vitamins. It's found in many foods like fruits, grains, beans, and nuts, but usually in small amounts, so supplementation may be necessary to reach therapeutic levels.

One study found that women living with PCOS had reductions in insulin and androgens after three months of taking myo-inositol, and acne improved after six months. Your mileage may vary.

Typical dosage is 2,000 mg once to twice daily, but your provider may recommend a different dose based on your needs.

B Vitamins

Each B vitamin has a job, but as a group, they contribute to hormone balance and cellular health, impacting hormonal acne. B-vitamins support the liver, which helps with detoxification and estrogen dominance. Vitamin B6 can also help rebalance hormones by elevating progesterone and dropping estrogen.

B vitamins are also necessary for energy metabolism and function within your cells, and deficiency of B vitamins can lead to dry skin and acne. A good B-complex provides all the B vitamins in one place, so they can be a targeted addition to your hormonal acne tool kit.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the inflammation that contributes to acne breakouts. It may also help with scarring by supporting collagen production and wound healing

Like vitamin A, most research on vitamin C and acne is associated with topical use, but eating vitamin C-rich foods or taking supplements ensures you have enough to support your skin from the inside out. Vitamin C is found in many foods like berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and tomatoes, but supplements can provide a concentrated dose. 

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Omega-3s

Omega-3s get a lot of airplay in health news because their anti-inflammatory activity extends to many health benefits, including your skin. Omega-3s are a type of essential fatty acid found in fish, flaxseed, and chia seeds. They can interrupt inflammation signals from inflammatory cytokines that can contribute to acne and other health problems.

Studies on fish oil containing omega-3s link supplementation with clearer skin, especially for people with moderate to severe inflammatory acne. Eating fish several times a week can boost your omega-3 intake, but many people don't eat fish regularly (or just don't like seafood), so omega-3 supplements can be an excellent way to get these skin-loving nutrients.

Magnesium 

Magnesium is not a typical supplement for acne, but I use it regularly as part of a hormone-balancing plan because it promotes stress relief and is involved in the metabolism of our hormones. Magnesium can also help with estrogen balance by promoting the excretion of extra estrogen that could contribute to hormone imbalances. 

Since your stress response and hormones are closely interconnected, I use magnesium to keep stress levels down (in addition to lifestyle practices), which also foundationally supports hormonal acne. Several studies point to a close relationship between acne and stress levels, so magnesium can often help mitigate the response.

In addition, magnesium supports healthy sleep, which may be one of the most potent anti-aging and skin health promoting practices we can incorporate into our daily routine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Hormonal Acne Supplements

Can Vitamins Help Hormonal Acne? 

Yes, vitamins can help hormonal acne by acting as antioxidants, reducing inflammation, and supporting healthy hormone balance. The best vitamins for acne are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and a B complex. You can find many of these nutrients in food, but taking supplements can ensure you're getting enough.

What Supplement Is Best for Hormonal Acne? 

No single supplement is the best for hormonal acne because each person is different. But since hormonal acne is often linked to excess androgen production, supplements like probiotics, DIM, or myo-inositol that focus on rebalancing hormone levels may be the best place to start.

Will My Hormonal Acne Ever Go Away?

Yes, some cases are more stubborn than others, but your skin can improve. Supplements are a big part of the puzzle, but diet and lifestyle also play a role in keeping your hormones in check. Reducing stress, regular exercise, and eating well are all essential for keeping hormone levels balanced.

Hormonal Acne Key Takeaways

  • Hormonal acne takes a multifaceted approach, but supplements can be a part of the solution.
  • Antioxidant-supportive supplements like vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin E could help lower inflammation and stop free radical damage.
  • Addressing acne with supplements that target healthy hormone balance like probiotics, DIM, or myo-inositol is a helpful root cause approach.
  • In combination with lifestyle habits like diet, sleep, and exercise, supplements can brighten your complexion and help you feel confident in your skin

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a women’s hormone expert and prominent leader in women’s medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News. Read more about me here.