Best Minerals For Acne

  • Dana VisnitchiMSci, Neuroscience with Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
  • Michika MontaldoBachelor of Science - BS, Applied Medical Sciences,UCL, UK
  • Linda NkrumahBiological Sciences with International Year, University of Birmingham, UK

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Overview

If you have experienced acne throughout your life, you may have tried everything to make it disappear. Topical and oral medications are normally used to cease breakouts. Minerals can also be effective for acne treatment. These nutritious elements can support skin health by helping with hormonal balancing, repair and renewal of the skin.

Furthermore, minerals are a cheap alternative to obtaining clear skin and are quite easy to get. This article will focus on the best minerals to treat acne, their properties and how to use them.

What is acne?

Acne is a skin condition caused by clogged pores that everyone has usually experienced at some point during adolescence.1 However, while for some, it goes away, for others, it may become a chronic issue, which could take a toll on their self-esteem.

To control this common problem, experts suggest treatments ranging from topical and oral products - including retinoids and antibiotics-and physical therapies.1 Additionally, for those who prefer a more natural alternative, minerals are a quite sought-after option. These essential nutrients play an important role in skin health, keeping it hydrated, protected from damaging factors, and aiding in its regeneration.2

However, which mineral supplements are the best to be taken in this situation? What beneficial effects will they have?  Keep reading to find out!

Cara-Menghilangkan-Flek-Hitam.jpg
*Image credit by CC BY-SA 4.0,
Acne vulgaris on a very oily skin.jpg
*Image credit by CC BY-SA 4.0,

Types of acne

Overview of acne types 

Acne can appear as different types of comedones. These are blockages of the hair follicles or pores by excess sebum (oil that provides moisture to the skin), dead skin cells, and bacteria. The different blemishes that can appear include:

  • Blackheads: Comedones filled with dead skin cells that reach the skin surface and open up. Their dark colour is due to the reflection of the light on the clogged hair follicles and not because of dirt
  • Whiteheads: Comedones underneath the skin surface. Sebum and dead skin cells block the pores from opening, giving way to a white bump
  • Papules: Comedones that appear due to excess sebum and bacteria in pores, which causes them to be inflamed, sore, and pink
  • Pustules: Papules have build-up pus, which gives them a white or yellow head  
  • Nodules: Large, inflamed, hard and painful lumps under deep layers of the skin
  • Cysts: Painful pus-filled lumps deep beneath the skin, that occur due to a combination of sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria, blocking the pore, which causes swelling or inflammation. It is the most severe type of acne
Blackheads
Blackheads by David Shankbone.jpg
*Image credit by CC BY-SA 3.0,
Blausen 0811 SkinPores.png
*Image credit by CC BY 3.0,
Acne Cyst
Cysticacne.JPG
*Image credit by CC BY-SA 3.0,

Causes and contributing factors

The underlying cause of acne is clogged pores, due to excessive oil production by sebaceous glands, dead skin accumulation, and bacteria. However, some contributing factors can trigger acne:

  • Hormonal changes: an increase in assigned male at birth (AMAB) sex hormones, known as androgens, leads to the enlargement of sebaceous glands, which in consequence, produce more sebum. This is quite common during puberty.3 In addition, assigned female at birth (AFAB) and non-binary individuals who have a period or are diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome can also experience a flare-up of acne due to the hormonal fluctuations during these times3,4
  • Family history: research indicates that a family history of acne increases your chances of developing the skin condition5,6,7
  • Medications: In some cases, certain medications are the causes of breakouts. Some treatments to look out for are corticosteroids, prescribed for a variety of conditions, medicines for mood disorders that contain lithium, some drugs for epilepsy, and hormonal prescriptions8,9
  • Diet: Experts have indicated that a diet rich in carbohydrates and sugar and poor in fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods can worsen acne symptoms. Moreover, professionals have also noted that reduced dairy consumption, with the integration of omega-3 fatty acids in meals, can benefit the skin10 
  • Other factors: stress, cosmetics, air pollution, and smoking can contribute to the appearance of acne11

Essential minerals for acne-prone skin

Although countless products help to control acne, a daily intake of minerals can also perform magic for the skin. Below, is a list of some minerals that can contribute to healthy skin.

Zinc

Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties and can protect the skin against bacterial growth. Furthermore, research has found that the mineral also reduces sebum production.12,13

Unfortunately, zinc is not produced by the body, so the best way to obtain it is through food sources or supplements. The richest sources containing this mineral include seafood, especially oysters, red meats and poultry. Dairy and whole grain products can be another way to ingest zinc. For vegetarians or vegans, there are plant-rived foods that provide zinc, including seeds, beans and nuts. A professional should be consulted before taking any supplements. 

The recommended daily intake is 8 mg for adult AFAB and 11 mg for adult AMAB. These values may vary with age and if the person is pregnant and lactating

It is important to ensure excessive levels of zinc are not consumed as this could have adverse side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and digestive issues.13 Additionally, a specialist should be consulted if you take antibiotics, penicillamine, or diuretics

Magnesium

Magnesium is a great mineral during hormonal breakouts caused by stress, as it helps reduce high cortisol levels that normally cause hormonal imbalances.14 Moreover, magnesium also has anti-inflammatory properties.15

This mineral can be found in a wide range of foods. Some sources that contain high levels of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. There are also a variety of supplements available.

The recommended daily intake varies with age and sex, but for adults AFAB is 310-320 mg and for adults AMAB is 400-420 mg. These values may vary if the person is pregnant and lactating. 

Excessive levels of magnesium from supplements can cause side effects including diarrhoea, nausea and cramps. If you are taking antibiotics, bisphosphonates, diuretics, or proton pump inhibitor drugs, you should consult your physician. 

Copper 

Copper has multiple benefits for acne-prone skin. Firstly, it helps to normalise bacterial concentration on the skin. To continue, it accelerates wound healing, which makes it great for treating scars. Finally, it regulates pigmentation, ensuring an even skin tone.16

 Copper is naturally present in food sources like meats, shellfish, whole grains, seeds, vegetables and chocolate. Copper is available as various dietary supplements as well.

The recommended daily intake varies with age and sex, but for adults, the suggested dose is approximately 1mg. These values may vary if the person is pregnant and lactating. 

Side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and cramps may appear after excessive copper ingestion for a long time.

Silica

Silica is a mineral that forms from the combination of silicon with oxygen. This is another agent that has good anti-inflammatory properties. It also boosts collagen production and improves skin strength. Consequently, it is involved in skin regeneration and reduction of pores. Moreover, as it is a strong oxygen carrier, it contributes to the skin being more hydrated.17,18

This element can be found naturally in fruits, especially in bananas, vegetables like green beans, and cereals. Dietary supplements are also available to buy. 

Unlike in other cases, no recommended daily intake has been set. Hence, an expert should be consulted for appropriate consumption. 

No evidence indicates that silica may have any side effects in the discussed form.

Important note: Silica is NOT the same as silicones. Unlike silica, silicones are synthetic (not natural) and can harm your health.

Incorporating minerals into your skincare routine

While you may think you can only obtain the discussed minerals through your diet or oral supplements, you can add them to your skincare routine through topical formulations. Many face washes, serums, moisturisers and sunscreens contain the necessary ingredients, such as zinc, magnesium, copper or silica, to improve acne-prone skin. 

Having a good skincare routine can do wonders for your skin. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need dozens of products for your face. A good cleanser can reduce bacteria, skin cells and sebum. Experts recommend a product that is not irritating, non-comedogenic and fragrance-free. Moisturising is important to keep the skin hydrated and maintain its strength barrier.

Good moisturising products for acne-prone skin are alcohol-free, fragrance-free, and water-based. Photoprotection is one of the most important steps of the routine, as it protects against sun damage, prevents photoaging, and reduces hyperpigmentation. Photoprotectors with SPF 30+ or more are usually suggested for acne-prone skin.19 

One thing to consider is that people suffering from acne do not have the same skin type. Your skin could be normal, sensitive, oily, dry, or a combination. That is why different anti-acne products will have varying effects on your skin. Thus, to ensure you use the appropriate items for your face always consult a professional. 

Summary

Minerals have a beneficial impact on acne-prone skin. They can help normalise bacterial concentration in the skin, cease sebum production, reduce inflammation, control hyperpigmentation, and apport moisture. These nutrients can be obtained orally through a healthy diet and oral supplements or applied topically through skin care products. However, while a combination of a good diet with an appropriate skincare routine might reduce acne, a dermatologist should be consulted for a more personal experience. 

References

  1. Tuchayi SM, Makrantonaki E, Ganceviciene R, ssinioti C, Feldman SR, Zouboulis CC. Acne vulgaris. Nat Rev Dis Primers [Internet]. 17th September 2015 [cited 6th  October  2023];1(1):15029. Available: https://www.nature.com/articles/nrdp201529
  2. Winkler P. Minerals and the skin. En: Pappas A, editor. Nutrition and Skin [Internet]. New York, NY: Springer New York; 2011 [cited 6th  October  2023]. p. 91-109. Available: https://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-1-4419-7967-4_7
  3. Well D. Acne vulgaris: A review of causes and treatment options. The Nurse Practitioner [Internet]. 10th October  2013 [cited 3rd  October  2023];38(10):22. Available: https://journals.lww.com/tnpj/FullText/2013/10000/Acne_vulgaris__A_review_of_causes_and_treatment.6.aspx
  4. Bagatin E,  Freitas THP, Machado MCR, Ribeiro BM, Nunes S, da Rocha MAD. Adult female acne: a guide to clinical practice. An Bras Dermatol [Internet]. 2019 [cited 3rd  October  2023];94(1):62-75. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360964/
  5. Bataille V, Snier H, MacGregor AJ, Sasieni P, Spector TD. The influence of genetics and environmental factors in the pathogenesis of acne: a twin study of acne in women. Journal of Investigative Dermatology [Internet]. December  2002 [cited 3rd  October  2023];119(6):1317-22. Available: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0022202X15301019
  6. Di Landro A, Cazzaniga S, Parazzini F, Ingordo V, Cusano F, Atzori L, et al. Family history, body mass index, selected dietary factors, menstrual history, and risk of moderate to severe acne in adolescents and young adults. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2012;67:1129–35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2012.02.018. 
  7. Loria K. Study: family history may factor in acne presentation, severity, and scarring. 13th  June  2022 [cited 3rd  October  2023];43. Available: https://www.dermatologytimes.com/view/study-family-history-may-factor-in-acne-presentation-severity-and-scarring
  8. Pontello Junior R, Kondo RN. Drug-induced acne and rose pearl: similarities. An Bras Dermatol [Internet]. 2013 [cited 4th  October  2023];88(6):1039-40. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3900370/
  9. Kazandjieva J, Tsankov N. Drug-induced acne. Clinics in dermatology [Internet]. 1st March  2017 [cited 4th  October  2023];35(2):156-62. Available: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0738081X16302681
  10. Baldwin H, Tan J. Effects of diet on acne and its response to treatment. Am J Clin Dermatol [Internet]. 1st  January  2021 [cited 4th  October  2023];22(1):55-65. Available: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40257-020-00542-y
  11. Yang J, Yang H, Xu A, He L. A review of advancement on influencing factors of acne: an emphasis on environment characteristics. Front Public Health [Internet]. 17th  September  2020 [cited 4th  October  2023];8:450. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7527424/
  12. Brandt S. The clinical effects of zinc as a topical or oral agent on the clinical response and pathophysiologic mechanisms of acne: a systematic review of the literature. J Drugs dermatol. May  2013;12(5):542-5.
  13. Gupta M, Mahajan VK, Mehta KS, Chauhan PS. Zinc therapy in dermatology: a review. Dermatology Research and Practice [Internet]. 10th July 2014 [cited 5th  October  2023];2014:e709152. Available: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2014/709152/
  14. Pickering G, Mazur A, Trousselard M, Bienkowski P, Yaltsewa N, Amessou M, et al. Magnesium status and stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited. Nutrients [Internet]. December  2020 [cited 5th  October  2023];12(12):3672. Available: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/12/3672
  15. Lee WJ, Kim SL, Choe YS, Jang YH, Lee SJ, Kim DW. Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate regulates the expression of inflammatory biomarkers in cultured sebocytes. Ann Derrmatol [Internet]. 29th  July  2015 [cited 5th  October  2023];27(4):376-82. Available: https://synapse.koreamed.org/articles/1046032
  16. Borkow G. Using copper to improve the well-being of the skin. Curr Chem Biol [Internet]. August  2014 [cited 5th  October  2023];8(2):89-102. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556990/
  17. Araújo LA , Addor F, Campos PMBGM. Use of silicon for skin and hair care: an approach of chemical forms available and efficacy. An Bras Dermatol [Internet]. June  2016 [cited 5th  October  2023];91:0331-5. Available: https://www.scielo.br/j/abd/a/kstGNsJcvxShLntBMD4L8Wm/?lang=en
  18. Lee GH, Lee SJ, Jeong SW, Kim HC, Park GY, Lee SG, et al. Antioxidative and antiinflammatory activities of quercetin-load silica nanoparticles. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces [Internet]. 1st  July  2016 [cited 5th  October  2023];143:511-7. Available: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927776516302156
  19. Goh C, Wu Y, Welsh B, Abad‐Casintahan MF, Tseng C, Sharad J, et al. Expert consensus on holistic skin care routine: Focus on acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and sensitive skin syndrome. J of Cosmetic Dermatology [Internet]. January  2023 [cited 6th  October  2023];22(1):45-54. Available: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jocd.15519

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Dana Visnitchi

MSci, Neuroscience with Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland

I’m an early career with a degree in Neuroscience with Psychology, who is passionate about mental health, and aims to promote it to a large audience without a scientific background. I’m also interested in skincare and cardiovascular health, and always keen to expand my knowledge. I have previous experience in literature search, creating content for different audiences, and making contributions to a published research paper about Gender Dysphoria. I’m currently focused on exploring medical communications to have a significant impact on the healthcare community.

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