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How to Read Supplement Labels

Confused about what to look for when choosing supplements to help your acne? Here’s what to look for on the product label.

Choosing supplements

Certain vitamins, minerals and herbs can do a great job when it comes to treating your acne from the inside out. They can relieve inflammation, protect against breakouts, defend against irritation and nourish and protect every inch of your skin.

However, choosing the right supplements can be overwhelming. Especially when some of the most popular “good for you” vitamins can actually make your acne worse!

That’s why, when it comes to choosing supplements for acne prone skin, it’s important to become a label reader. Here is a quick cheat sheet on what to look for — as well as what to avoid:

Avoid the “Big 3” Found in Most Multivitamins

1. Biotin (also known as Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H) is a popular ingredient in multivitamins as well as Hair, Skin and Nails supplements. It’s also found in many nutritional drink powders, protein drinks, and even shampoos. But ironically, biotin happens to be one of the worst acne triggers!

Here’s why: Biotin causes increased cell turnover — and that’s a problem if you suffer with acne.  The reason? People with acne already have a condition called retention hyperkeratosis, which means their skin cells turn over 4 – 5 times the normal rate.

So when you combine the genetic problem of high cell turnover along with biotin, which causes high cell turnover–well, you can imagine what can happen to your skin!

Biotin may offer some benefits to skin health but in small doses. Biotin is naturally produced by the body, and found in foods like egg yolks, organ meats, avocado and cauliflower.  So taking excess biotin is not only unnecessary but it can wreak havoc with your acne.

Some of the most popular one-a-day vitamins, skin supplements, soaps, conditioners and protein powders contain biotin.  So if the nutritional label lists biotin as an ingredient–stay away.

2. Vitamin B12 is known as the “energy” vitamin—which is why it is such a popular supplement. But not if you have acne!

Research conducted by UCLA shows that high doses of vitamin B12 can cause a disruption in the skin bacteria known as P. acnes, which leads to breakouts.

So avoid multivitamins, prenatal vitamins, B12 shots, sublingual B12 strips, B12 supplements and other supplements that list this nutrient in their ingredient list.

3. Iodine is a mineral that supports thyroid health.  However, it’s a big acne trigger, too! Elevated levels of iodine in the bloodstream mix with the oil glands in your skin, irritating your pores and causing acne flare ups.

Multivitamins, seaweed, kelp and spirulina supplements and table salt all contain contain iodides. You should also be aware that certain protein powders and shakes contain iodine, too.

Be sure to shop for a brand that does not contain high levels of iodine. It will be listed as potassium iodide on the product label.

To get the essential nutrients you need without fear of the “Big 3”, Try replacing your multivitamin with Clove Hill Skin Clarity. It contains extra levels of Vitamin A, herbs, antioxidants and other nutrients to help soothe acne breakouts, relieve inflammation and boost the health of your skin.

Probiotic supplements: the more “good stuff”, the better

The health of your gut is directly linked to the health of your skin. And one of the best ways to support a healthy intestinal balance is with probiotics.

Probiotic supplements contain a mix of several different strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium – “good” bacteria that help balance your intestinal tract and reduce inflammation as well as gas, bloating and other digestive problems.

Probiotics also help remove toxins from your system—toxins that are showing up on your skin!

That’s why taking a probiotic is a great idea to soothe problem skin—but you have to take the right kind.  Basically when it comes to probiotics, more is better. Choose a probiotic that contains at least 8 strains of friendly bacteria at 40 parts per billion (also known as CFU’s).

And be sure to choose a probiotic that’s dairy free. Dairy products are acne triggering—so if the label  states “contains milk or milk by-products”, don’t buy it. Otherwise the benefits are wasted!

Our Clove Hill Clear Skin Probiotic 10 contains 10 strains of good bacteria shown to support skin health. Plus it’s absolutely dairy free.

Avoid Cod Liver Oil, Too

While several internet sights promote cod liver oil as a holy grail for acne, I don’t recommend it.

Cod liver oil may be high in  such skin-loving ingredients as Vitamin A and Omega 3 fatty acids. But it also contains high levels of iodine.  As we’ve seen, iodine is acne-triggering and should be avoided!

A better choice is Clove Hill Skin Clarity, which contains 10,000 IU’s of beta carotene (Vitamin A) and does not include any iodine.

Watch out for Soy and DIM

Watch out for Soy and DIM

DIM – short for Diindolylmethane – is a compound derived from broccoli, kale and other  cruciferous vegetables. It’s claimed to help promote a healthy hormone balance and as a result, get rid of acne.  But here’s what the claims don’t say:

DIM actually blocks the production of an enzyme that lowers estrogen production…and estrogen is already low in acne sufferers to begin with.  This means that DIM causes androgen levels to skyrocket. Higher androgen levels increase oil production in your pores–and you see it with acne flare ups!

Soy is another acne-trigger because it contains phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens disrupt your body’s natural hormone balance by decreasing estrogen and increasing androgens. So stay away from soy milk, tofu or any other soy-derived product.

Last but not least, quality matters!

Supplements bought at your supermarket or drugstore may be less expensive—but you pay the price with products that contain low quality ingredients, incomplete dosage levels or chemicals and additives.

Since there is no regulatory agency that governs exactly what goes in to a supplement bottle, manufacturers can load their products with fillers and binders along with only tiny amounts of a nutrient.

Be sure to look for all-natural, pharmaceutical-grade products that contain abundant dosage levels each ingredient. This information should be clearly spelled out in the “Supplement Facts” section of the product label.

We recommend supplements as a first step on your journey to getting clear.  And while some supplements may trigger acne, they are not the main cause of your acne. Acne is triggered by several factors including genetics, clogged pores, stress and hormone imbalances.

Nourishing your body with the right skin enhancing nutrients can accelerate your journey to getting clear—while boosting your overall health and energy, too.

Ready to clear your acne once and for all? We can help.

From our experience treating thousands of clients, acne usually appears to be triggered by a combination of issues, rather than one. That’s why a typical one-size-fits-all approach rarely works when it comes to clearing and controlling acne over the long run.

If you have tried it all and still have acne, our comprehensive 16-week Online Acne Program is the answer. Our Online Acne Program has a 95% success rate helping thousands of clients get clear. We can help you too!

Get started on your journey to clear by booking an Online Acne Consult today.

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About the Author: Jessica Gremley

Jessica Gremley

Jessica has been a Medical Esthetician, Certified Acne Specialist and Healing Diets Coach since 2003. After struggling with acne for more than a decade, she became determined to find a way to clear acne without pharmaceuticals for herself and eventually, future clients. Today, she offers a complete acne regimen that combines proven non-comedogenic skincare products, natural supplements, lifestyle coaching, and support from trained acne specialists to achieve lifelong clear skin. She and her staff serve locally at Natural Acne Clinic in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and nationally via NAC’s Online Acne Program.

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