If you struggle with acne-prone skin, you’ve probably already tried the commonly recommended vitamins and supplements. From vitamin A to vitamin C to zinc, there are many vitamins touted as acne beaters — and many of them do a great job keeping those red spots at bay. But if you’re still struggling with spotty skin, it’s time to dive a little deeper and check out some of the more underrated vitamins for fighting acne.
Beauty is more than skin-deep: vitamins are a powerful weapon in the fight against acne, transforming your skin from the inside out. What’s more, many vitamins promote overall skin health for that perfect #nofilter look.
From astaxanthin to lysine, here are four of the most underrated vitamins that actually fight acne.
Astaxanthin is skincare’s best-kept secret, a powerful antioxidant that protects your skin from the sun, reduces wrinkles, and fights acne.
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, a class of antioxidants responsible for the color of red and orange foods like salmon, tomatoes, persimmons, and carrots. Carotenoids protect and enhance the immune system, decreasing the risk of disease — and astaxanthin is known as the king of carotenoids.
Astaxanthin contains significantly more antioxidants than skin superheroes vitamin C and E and is anywhere from 10 to 100 times more powerful than other carotenoids like alpha-carotene and beta-carotene.
Astaxanthin fights damage caused by free radicals — unstable atoms responsible for illness and aging. But it’s astaxanthin’s anti-inflammatory properties that make it the perfect acne-fighting weapon. It helps reduce skin redness and inflammation, suppressing acne and giving your skin a chance to breathe.
And that’s not all — astaxanthin fights aging, aids in eye and brain health, and helps your immune system fight disease. Not bad for one little vitamin.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics are often talked about when it comes to gut health, but what about skin health?
As it turns out, probiotics and prebiotics are good for more than just your gut.
Acne is an inflammatory condition, which means that probiotics, which reduce pro-inflammatories and release anti-inflammatories, are a powerful ally in the fight against acne. Through normalizing your gut bacteria, probiotics promote the growth of healthy bacteria throughout your body — including the skin.
Research suggests that acne is affected by gut health — our skin is influenced by our diet, after all — and that probiotics can be very effective in keeping skin clear and healthy.
Along with calming internal inflammation, probiotics help fight environmental sources of irritation to your skin. Think of how antibiotics combat acne. Probiotics also bolster your skin’s natural moisture barrier, perfect for acne sufferers who use a lot of oil-banishing cleansers.
B vitamins are also considered one of skincare’s best-kept secrets.
There are eight different types of vitamin B, known collectively as vitamin B — and some of them are true powerhouses when it comes to fighting acne. If you are an acne sufferer, the B vitamins to watch out for are B5 and B3.
Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, forms part of a substance called CoEnzyme A. CoEnzyme A breaks down fatty acids in the body. But why does this matter for acne sufferers?
Acne is often caused by excessive oils produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands. By reducing the excess oil, B5 also reduces acne. Studies have shown that people with mild to moderate acne saw real reductions in their spots when taking vitamin B5.
Meanwhile, vitamin B3, also called niacin, is used to treat a wide variety of skin conditions, including dermatitis, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, and, yes, acne. Niacinamide, a popular skincare ingredient found in all sorts of acne-fighting creams and serums, is a form of vitamin B3.
Since vitamin B3 is water-soluble, the body doesn’t store it, which is why taking it in supplement form or using it topically is necessary to reap its benefits. And those benefits are many, from reducing redness to calming swelling to repressing oil produced by the glands in your skin.
Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning it needs to be consumed as part of your diet or via a supplement, as your body does not make it naturally. Lysine helps build protein, which turns out to be very useful in fighting acne.
One of the proteins lysine helps build is collagen, which is vital for regulating your skin’s health and works wonders on acne scarring. Along with giving you clearer, scar-free skin, collagen keeps your skin supple and firm, strengthens your nails, and keeps your hair strong and healthy. Your body can’t make collagen without lysine, so stock up on those supplements.
There is currently limited research into lysine’s effects on acne, but anecdotal evidence suggests that this low-cost supplement can have a big effect.
Acne is hard to live with, particularly when the tried-and-tested methods don’t seem to work on it. Everybody’s skin is different, and unfortunately, when it comes to acne there is no one-size-fits-all cure. If you struggle with acne, you may have tried many different treatments already — but the beauty of introducing vitamins into your anti-acne battle is that they can transform your skin’s health from deep within, not only eliminating your acne but preventing it from returning.
- Davinelli, Sergio et al: “Astaxanthin in Skin Health, Repair, and Disease: A Comprehensive Review”, April 22 2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946307/
- Fox, Marissa: “Astaxanthin: The KING of Carotenoids”, May 24 2022, wholefoodsmagazine.com/columns/astaxanthin-the-king-of-carotenoids/
- Ambati, Rao Ranga et al: “Astaxanthin: Sources, Extraction, Stability, Biological Activities and Its Commercial Applications—A Review”, January 7 2014, mdpi.com/1660-3397/12/1/128
- Bowe, W et al: “Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis: from anecdote to translational medicine”, June 1 2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23886975/
- Boulger, Savannah: “Vitamin B: The Most Underrated Skin Vitamin”, January 30 2020, skinritual.co.nz/post/vitamin-b-the-most-underrated-skin-vitamin
- “Pantothenic Acid for Acne: Does It Work and How to Use”, June 22 2020, healthline.com/health/pantothenic-acid-for-acne-does-it-work-and-how-to-use
- Walocko, Frances M. et al: “The role of nicotinamide in acne treatment”, 21 February 2017, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dth.12481
- Barry, Chris: “L-Lysine for Acne: Does It Work? Dosage, Side Effects, and More”, February 5 2020, dermcollective.com/l-lysine-for-acne/