These 4 Supplements Could Be the Missing Pieces in Your Acne-Fighting Puzzle

I got a big-deal dermatologist's advice on which vitamins and supplements actually work on inflammation and breakouts. Here's your cheat sheet.
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I got a big-deal dermatologist's advice on which vitamins and supplements actually work on inflammation and breakouts. Here's your cheat sheet.

If your skin is acting a fool, it's important to hit it from every angle. Acne and inflammation are so common; sometimes you're stuck with one or both, but it's not hopeless, and we can all do much better addressing those issues.

Integrating supplements into your routine doesn’t mean never seeing a doctor and just taking piles of weird expensive herbs while reading Earth Clinic and WebMD — it's most certainly not. It also doesn't mean you can't find treatments that fit your doctor’s approval with a little research. Knowledge is the key to making smart choices for your budget and your body. 

I found the happy medium of using doctor-prescribed meds and some support from vitamins and supplements to get the best results for my skin, and you can work with your doctor to get there, too. I got some advice from Dr. Gary Goldfaden, founder of Goldfaden MD,  and hopefully we'll paint a more complete picture for you of how some supplementation can be a very good thing for the battle for clear skin. 

Here are four supplement tips from Dr. Goldfaden that could very well help your skin be its healthiest, inflammation-free self.

"Vitamin D helps with skin-cell growth and repair. It combats free radicals, thus keeping skin younger, tighter and softer."

500-1000 IU is a good starting point if you haven't medically confirmed that you need a mega dose like this one.

500-1000 IU is a good starting point if you haven't medically confirmed that you need a mega dose like this one.

The synthesis of vitamin D in the skin is crucial to your health regardless of your sunscreen habits. In fact, the more you avoid the sun, the more you might need the D. Low vitamin D can give you a serious mountain to climb when dealing with cystic acne, it helps to signal to your adrenal glands that there is enough sebum going on already.

It’s always good to get an occasional blood test to make sure everything is copacetic with your vitamin values, and as most of us are aware, wintertime is the hardest time for procuring vitamin D through natural means, so I take a pill daily as recommended by my primary care doc. There is also a prescription version to really help you play catch up.  

"Vitamin C is arguably the most important vitamin due to all the offered capabilities internally and externally."

Now you C me, not just for a cold, clementine!

Now you C me, not just for a cold, clementine!

Getting all of that antioxidant power internally scoops up free radicals that can destroy your skin while shielding your immune system from other pathogens. Collagen synthesis requires available stores of the stuff, while external C keeps it from breaking down. 

Vitamin C is a simple one to get through eating fresh fruits and vegetables, but it’s also terribly easy to get from drinks or pills. (I can’t keep the chewable tablets in my life because I want to eat them like candy.)

"Zinc boosts immune function, which may help ward off development of acne."

I like mine low-dose; anything too high makes me queasy.

I like mine low-dose; anything too high makes me queasy.

Zinc has been so, so crucial to my skincare journey. I may have ups and downs, but skipping even one day of zinc if I’m off my meds is a guaranteed cystic pimple. 

Regulating your immune system is often a really helpful start to fighting acne. By helping your body — and, more specifically, your skin — zinc is the first line of defense when it comes to obliterating any bacterial imbalances that can allow or aggravate acne and redness.

"Daily probiotics are one of the healthiest kinds of supplements I can recommend. Probiotics keep the gut bacteria and yeast in balance while targeting inflammation, strengthening immune functions, allergies and urinary tract health."

There's so many options, but this is the one I like for price and simplicity of dosing.

There's so many options, but this is the one I like for price and simplicity of dosing.

The robustness and specific nature of what bacteria are making colonies in your intestines can have a direct effect on skin. We know now more than ever that you can’t slap creams on your face and call it a day; good skin comes from some gross, gurgling places too. For some, this can mean sorting out digestive issues; for others, this can begin with adding probiotics. 

These enter your intestines and seed them with beneficial flora. Some derms prescribe anti-biotics in a low dose for a few months to kick off healing of p.acnes bacteria, and probiotics can help mitigate any (literally shitty) side effects of killing all of your resident good gut bacteria. 

Don't just run to The Vitamin Shoppe to grab all of these. Use this message as inspiration to get to the bottom of your case. Hit the doc, chat with your pharmacist, and get real about what you may be missing to help get over redness, pimples, and skin woes once and for all.

Photos: Maria Penaloza