6 Things You Need To Know About Vitamins for Acne

Jeff Hautala
By Jeff Hautala, Co-Founder of Exposed Skincare

Like with any of the acne treatments, you may want to know if vitamins for acne really work before you try them. Everyone needs good nutrition, but some micro supplements may help with acne vulgaris specifically, and different people respond differently. We recommend consulting with a doctor 👨‍⚕️ before starting any kind of vitamin supplement.

Vitamins are an all-natural way to help improve your acne, but some vitamins for acne are more reliable than others.

1. Vitamins Cannot Replace a Good Skin Care Routine

The best place to start to gain clearer skin is with a gentle, consistent skin care routine 🍃. Taking vitamins and minerals may help your skin health, perhaps even a lot, but we can guarantee that you will see the best results when you look after your skin well on the outside, too.

Steady and Slow Is the Way To Go

Don’t expect overnight skin health results when using vitamins 🌙. The human body, including your skin, needs time to regenerate. However, we recommend that you commit to sticking with a sensible routine for at least six weeks to treat acne more permanently. But that’s not all.

Gentle Is the Secret

Your skin needs gentle treatment, no matter what. Many promotors of vitamins for clear skin promise fast results, but you’ll notice that they tend to work well for a week or two, then the acne returns. This is because fast-acting but harsh products exacerbate two of the three core causes of acne, so avoid them whenever possible.

Instead,we recommend Exposed Skin Care and our gentle 🍃 and effective line of acne treatment products for consistently clear, healthy skin. Our products contain safe levels of chemicals like benzoyl peroxide, but they also contain all-natural tea tree oil and other ingredients with powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Vitamins for acne can help supplement a gentle skin care system, like the Basic Kit from Exposed Skin Care.

2. Address the Core Causes of Acne

Acne is caused by three factors: inflammation 🔥, bacteria 🦠, and excess oil production. If a supplement addresses any of these three causes, there’s a strong chance it could help with acne.


Inflammation is the root cause of acne. When the skin is inflamed, the pores constrict slightly, trapping oil and dead skin cells beneath the surface. This leads to the clogged pores that cause blackheads and whiteheads. If acne-causing bacteria 🦠 get trapped in the pores as well, minor infections can start to form pimples.


Bacteria are the second core cause of acne, especially P. acnes, which always live on the surface of our skin. On their own, they don’t cause much of a problem, but when they get trapped in the pores due to inflammation 🔥, they cause minor infections that lead to pimples or even cysts. Also, P. acnes uses oil as nourishment, which encourages its proliferation.

Excess Oil Production

Oil is good and necessary for skin health at normal levels, and without inflammation. However, many things can kick oil production into overdrive—from the body’s inflammatory response triggered by harsh products and other irritants, to fluctuating hormones. Not all people with oily skin get acne, but the trouble starts when excess oil gets trapped in a pore with P. acnes 🦠.

3. Addressing a Vitamin A Deficiency for Healthy Skin

If you’re using a retinoid such as Tazorac or Differin, or if you take isotretinoin (commonly called Accutane), then you’re already using vitamin A for acne.

Retinoids and isotretinoin (a strong retinoid) are essentially concentrated analogs of vitamin A. In this form, they can regulate the life cycle of skin cells in a way that helps prevent acne.

Although retinoids have proven to be very effective, especially when treating cystic and severe acne, it is associated with severe side effects. Taking vitamin A supplements for acne is not always safe. Vitamin A gets stored in your liver and fat cells, so taking too much, or for too long, can lead to toxicity ⚠️. This is the main trouble with a vitamin A derivative such as isotretinoin, too.

4. The Use of Vitamins B, D, or E Doesn’t Make a Significant Difference to Acne

Vitamins B, D, and E are the opposite of vitamin A, in that there is almost no traceable research confirming or denying any possible benefits in acne treatment. These vitamins could improve your overall health , but they are not the most efficient vitamins for acne.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B comes in many forms, like thiamin, niacin, biotin, and more, but none of these variations have been proven to decrease acne. Many B vitamins are linked to generally better hair and skin health, especially vitamin B12 (biotin), but this correlation is usually present when the person was previously deficient 👍.

Vitamin D

Although research suggests that people with acne are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency, there’s no proof that increasing vitamin D intake decreases acne. Vitamin D could theoretically help with acne because of relatively recent research which suggests it can boost immunity 🚀and prevent inflammation. But it’s important to remember that these studies are in the early stages and have not yet been linked to acne specifically.

Vitamin E

Finally, vitamin E is a common ingredient in many skin care products because it is an antioxidant, meaning it may be able to prevent a degree of inflammation 🔥. However, the same problem with vitamin B can be observed with vitamin E: positive effects are only generated when the person has a deficiency to begin with. In Western diets, deficiencies of this nutrient are relatively rare, but if you think you might benefit from supplementing with it, you should speak with your doctor 👨‍⚕️.

5. Vitamin C Might Reduce Acne and Fade Scars, but Could Create Dark Spots on Dark Skin

Vitamin C doesn’t have the same amount of peer reviewed research supporting its use in acne treatment as vitamin A does, but it is more likely to help than vitamins B, D, or E. This is due in part to its well-known ability to strengthen the body’s immunity to disease. Orange juice 🍊 and supplements are common home remedies during the cold winter months when illnesses abound, and some research suggests this immune boost could help reduce acne and acne scars.

It Boosts the Immune Response

Because bacteria 🦠 play a primary role in inflammatory acne formation, keeping your immunity strong enough to fight pimples effectively can help prevent them from getting too large, or even prevent them from forming at all. In fact, this vitamin is a standout on our list because some studies show that it can also reduce acne scarring.

It’s Good for Treating Scars

One of the worst aspects of acne is the scarring it leaves behind. Even once you have clear skin, you are left with many reminders that can be even trickier to treat. We recommend buying a cream with this vitamin, or simply mixing freshly squeezed lemon 🍋 with a moisturizing agent, and applying it directly to the scar tissue.

However, some studies have shown an increased likelihood of hyperpigmentation (dark spots) in dark-skinned users of topical vitamin C. We recommend you consult with a dermatologist 👩‍⚕️ about this.

Citrus, like oranges and lemons, are an excellent source of vitamin C for clear skin.

6. Zinc Could Help Reduce Acne, but…

Zinc is a mineral and also an essential nutrient, so we thought it was only natural to include it in this article. The experts agree that for acne, zinc might be among the essential treatments, because in a small 2013 study by scientists in Turkey, acne patients presented with low blood levels of the mineral. It appears that zinc keeps the immune system from triggering the inflammation 🔥 response for every minor irritant. However, taking zinc supplements can have drawbacks.

Beware of Copper Deficiency

The first problem you can run into when taking zinc for acne is a copper deficiency. Zinc and copper are absorbed together, so if you start to absorb too much zinc, there isn’t enough space to absorb the copper you need as well, which can lead to toxicity problems. If you decide to take this supplement, make sure you discuss this issue with your doctor 👨‍⚕️.

Not Good for Dark Skin

The second issue with zinc is that, like vitamin C, it isn’t always recommended for dark skin. Zinc gluconate is considered safe for all skin types, but certain types, like zinc oxide or zinc ascorbate (which is zinc with vitamin C), can create white spots, whether applied directly or taken orally 💊.