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Why Berberine Acne Treatments Fall Short (5 Reasons to Avoid It)

Berberine is an active compound found in several plants and is often highlighted in Chinese medicine. It is increasingly being touted for its potential health benefits, which range from lowering blood sugar levels to weight loss. 

Some people also suggest that berberine can be a cure for acne. But is it true? This blog post will examine the reality and give five reasons why berberine acne treatments are less impressive than you think.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Berberine has several limitations in treating acne, particularly in the areas of hormonal balance, gut health, and blood glucose management.
  • Women with PCOS should look for acne treatments that address hormonal imbalances and blood glucose levels for effective results.
  • ‘Leaky gut’ can worsen acne, and berberine does not offer a solution.
  • Exposed Skin Care provides a holistic approach to acne management, making it a more comprehensive treatment option.

Berberine pills on persons hand

Reason 1: Berberine Fails to Address Hormonal Imbalance

Hormones play a major role in the development of acne. Specifically, hormonal imbalances, like those experienced in women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), can trigger sebum production, leading to clogged pores and, ultimately, acne.

One might think that berberine, with its blood sugar-regulating effects, would be a potential candidate for balancing hormonal issues that cause acne. However, let us look at why this may not be the case.

Several studies have pointed out that berberine may improve insulin sensitivity and benefit women with PCOS. However, other researchers have also found berberine to be less effective than hormonal birth control options in addressing the hormone imbalances that directly contribute to acne.

There are specific treatments aimed at hormone regulation that are far more effective in treating acne. For example, women of the same weight without PCOS may have higher insulin levels, which play a role in acne by triggering inflammation and worsening symptoms. Berberine fails to address this complex hormonal landscape adequately.

Reason 2: Berberine and Insulin Sensitivity

Berberine is often promoted as a supplement that can improve insulin sensitivity, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. Given that insulin levels can play a role in acne, one would assume berberine would help clear acne-prone skin. However, this is far from the truth.

While berberine works by improving women’s blood glucose levels, it does not necessarily translate into clear skin. Insulin sensitivity is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to skin health, and Berberine’s role here is limited. 

High insulin levels in the blood can cause your oil glands to produce more sebum. Though berberine can play a role in reducing insulin levels, it does not directly affect sebum production or the clogging of pores, which are two significant causes of acne.

Person's oily forehead closed up

Reason 3: Food Triggers and Berberine

Foods like sugar and dairy are common acne triggers that can contribute to acne by increasing sebum production and causing inflammation. Berberine is often recommended for controlling blood sugar levels, but does it help in controlling acne triggered by food?

While berberine can help regulate blood sugar, it does not necessarily mitigate the effects of high-energy foods like sugar and dried fruit, which can play a role in acne. A four-week study involving 600mg of barberry (a source of berberine) failed to show any significant improvements in participants diagnosed with acne.

Sugar and dairy cause an increase in insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a hormone that stimulates keratin and sebum production. Berberine has no known effects on regulating these specific hormones, which play a role in acne development.

Reason 4: Berberine and Intestinal Permeability

The condition known as 'leaky gut' can also contribute to acne. Leaky gut can play a role in triggering inflammation and making symptoms worse. Berberine is sometimes suggested to improve intestinal permeability, but how effective is it?

While berberine may offer some well-researched benefits for gut health, it does not provide a comprehensive solution for acne-prone individuals. For example, one clinical trial found that, although berberine could kill bacteria and reduce intestinal permeability, it did not significantly impact acne symptoms.

Young woman with painful stomach

Reason 5: Chinese Medicine Vs. Acne Realities

Berberine has been a part of Chinese medicine for centuries, often prescribed for its various health benefits, including cholesterol balance and heart health. However, when it comes to acne, traditional uses may not align with modern insights into acne treatment.

Although Chinese medicine strongly emphasizes the role of berberine in overall health, including skin health, it falls short when scrutinized under scientific methodology. Studies also show that berberine may help with blood sugar levels and intestinal permeability, but when it comes to treating acne, the evidence is sparse.

Acne is a multifaceted condition that involves hormonal, metabolic, and gastrointestinal factors, among others. While berberine has a broad range of effects, it does not effectively target the root causes of acne, making it a less-than-ideal part of your skin healing protocol.

The Benefits of Using Exposed Skin Care for Managing Acne

Now that we have looked at Berberine and its limitations in treating acne, it's important to highlight effective alternatives. Exposed Skin Care is a product line that manages acne and promotes overall skin health. 

Exposed Skin Care Ultimate Kit

Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Effective Pimple Treatment: The active ingredients in Exposed Skin Care are formulated to tackle pimples at their root, aiding in faster healing.
  • Improves Skin Texture: Consistent use helps refine the skin’s texture, making it smoother and more receptive to lightweight foundation.
  • Non-Comedogenic Makeup Friendly: These products create a base compatible with non-comedogenic makeup, ensuring your makeup won't cause further breakouts.
  • Brighten Your Complexion: The ingredients commonly used in these products aim to brighten your skin, reducing the appearance of pimple marks and wrinkles.
  • Significant Reduction in Acne: Clinical trials have shown that Exposed Skin Care can reduce acne by 45% within weeks of consistent use.

    Read on to discover why Exposed Skin Care has been the choice for clients with acne as part of their holistic skincare regime. So, if you've been considering berberine for clients with acne, it might be time to shift focus and use it as part of a more effective skincare routine with Exposed Skin Care.


    In the quest for clearer skin, evaluating the evidence behind various treatments is essential. While berberine is one of the many options available, it falls short in several critical aspects. From hormonal imbalances to gut health, berberine doesn't fully address the multifaceted causes of acne.

    Breakouts are often the result of a complex interplay of hormones, gut health, and even blood glucose levels, especially in women with PCOS. Unlike berberine, other treatment options provide a more holistic approach to acne management. These options focus on regulating the multiple variables contributing to acne, thus achieving significant results.

    One of the significant concerns with berberine is its failure to address conditions known as ‘leaky gut,’ which can exacerbate skin problems. In contrast, some treatments concentrate on overall gut health, emphasizing the importance of a balanced microbiome in skin care.

    Exposed Skin Care is a multi-faceted approach to tackling acne and starkly contrasts the limitations of berberine. Its focus is on skin health, moisture, and long-term benefits, making it a worthwhile consideration in your journey for healthier skin.


    Q: Why is berberine not recommended for treating acne?

    A: Berberine falls short in several areas, such as hormonal regulation, gut health, and blood glucose management, making it less effective for comprehensive acne treatment.

    Q: Can berberine help with hormonal acne?

    A: Berberine does not effectively regulate hormones like testosterone, which play significant roles in hormonal acne.

    Q: Is berberine suitable for women with PCOS?

    A: Berberine does not adequately address the blood glucose levels with PCOS, which can contribute to acne.

    Q: Does berberine affect gut health?

    A: Berberine fails to manage conditions known as ‘leaky gut,’ which can exacerbate acne symptoms.

    Q: How does Exposed Skin Care differ from berberine in treating acne?

    A: Exposed Skin Care provides a multi-faceted approach to acne treatment, making it more comprehensive and effective.