Can Supplements Help Fight Oily Skin?

For people dealing with oily skin or acne, internal changes in hormone levels tend to be a major cause of these two often interlinked conditions. Sebaceous secretion, otherwise known as oil production, is one well-known example of this particular kind of hormonal happens during puberty, particularly for teenage boys. For women, oily skin and hormonal acne are mostly seen in adult women. Issues such as thyroid disorders, stress, starting or stopping hormonal contraceptives or other medications, fluctuating hormone levels throughout the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and various other hormonal disorders such as PCOS cause changes in hormone, cortisol, and thyroid levels. These changes can directly impact the health, function, and appearance of your skin.

Vitamins and Skincare

Vitamins and minerals are foundational not only when it comes to creating an effective skin care product, but to the balance of our overall health and well being as humans. Depending on the type of hormonal change, vitamins and minerals can be used both topically and orally in order to reduce oil production, fight acne, and lead to clearer skin. 

So the question remains: can natural remedies such as vitamins and minerals actually help to fight against oily skin as opposed to just applying them topically? Find out below.

Vitamin A

Clinicians at the University of Michigan believe that supplementing Vitamin A orally is not a sufficient way to improve the health of the skin, nor to fight acne.

Vitamin A is oftentimes used to fight acne, but in the form of a topical cream or gel. Retinoids are chemically altered forms of Vitamin A that you can apply to the skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, retinoids are the most effective treatment for acne because of their ability to regenerate and heal the skin rapidly, so that you quickly have fresh skin.

Just remember to apply sunscreen daily if you’re using retinoids, as retinoids weaken the skin’s natural UV protection.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that it is absorbed into the body along with fats that are eaten and is stored in the body's fatty tissue and in the liver. It builds up in your body and so, if more than 10,000iu are ingested, it can be toxic. This is especially true for pregnant women.

But as a topical medication, vitamin A can help with your acne. Most topical medications chemically alter the vitamin into a retinoid that you can apply to the skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, retinoids are the most effective treatment for acne because they regenerate and heal the skin much quicker than would happen without treatment.

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Vitamin D

According to a study published in the journal Nutrition Research, the prevalence rate of adults in the United States with vitamin D deficiency is forty-one percent, despite vitamin D being found and fortified in many common foods and beverages such as milk, orange juice, eggs, and cereal. For this reason, a high-quality vitamin D supplement could be essential to one’s health, especially during the winter months when sunlight doesn't contain enough UVB radiation for our skin to be able to make vitamin D.

Despite being the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is connected to our skin in another way. It is actually a hormone that communicates with your other hormones, making it essential for hormonal balance. Disrupted hormone levels can lead to oily skin and breakouts. 

Like vitamin A, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so when supplementing, be sure to take it with your fattiest meal of the day to ensure absorption. Another way is to take your vitamin D and fish oil supplements together.

Vitamin E

Along with vitamins A and D (as well as K), vitamin E is another fat-soluble vitamin that can be toxic when taken too frequently or at high levels.

Vitamin E is one of the five micronutrients that plays a role in maintaining healthy immune function. Healthy immune function is a large part of fighting acne from the inside out. Unfortunately, the relationship between acne and vitamin E isn’t well studied. However, in a recent study, people who suffer from acne were shown to have vitamin E, A, and zinc deficiencies.

Overall, it’s a good idea to be sure to get the recommended daily vitamin E levels through food or supplementation.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has topped the market when it comes to in-demand skincare ingredients because of its ability to lighten dark spots and brighten the skin when applied topically. High concentrations of vitamin C are also responsible for your skin’s health, including its elasticity, collagen synthesis, and reaction to environmental stress. Vitamin C also possesses anti-inflammatory qualities which can be used in conditions like acne vulgaris and rosacea and can also promote wound healing and prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

You can optimize your vitamin C levels by eating citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruits, or vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and green peppers, or through supplementation.


Zinc is a key component of a lot of healthy body functions, including reproductive function, metabolic health, immune health, and wound repair. As a treatment for acne, zinc can be taken as an oral supplement or used as a topical treatment. Zinc has been found to decrease the production of oil in the skin. Regulating, not eliminating sebum is a necessary and delicate balance. By keeping sebum overproduction at bay, zinc helps to reduce the chance of bacterial growth, blocked pores, and protects against inflammation.

You can improve your zinc intake levels by eating foods such as chickpeas, lentils, red meat, cashews, and eggs. Zinc can be supplemented orally well.

Like any vitamin or mineral, ingesting higher than recommended amounts of zinc can be harmful. Some people have reported becoming ill from taking too much zinc, and excessive zinc intake can lead to a copper deficiency.

Food Over Supplements

As we’ve discussed, many vitamins can be used both topically and orally to benefit the overall health of the skin. However, it is preferred to always consume nutrients in the form of food over supplements whenever possible.


As with any medical treatment, medical-related questions, supplementation, or diagnoses, always consult with a doctor, dermatologist, or nutritionist for proper care and treatment options. Even though vitamins are largely unregulated and widely available in places such as the United States, they can be highly dangerous and even toxic when taken incorrectly. By consulting with a doctor, you will also have the option to have your vitamin levels tested in order to determine what vitamins you should be supplementing, if any. Even topical medications such as Tretinoin, a cream or gel form of vitamin A also known as retinoic acid, is only available with a prescription because of the risks associated with misuse.

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