Vitamin A for Acne Treatment

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Vitamin A supplementation from natural sources and the infamous Accutane (a vitamin A derivative 13-cis-retinoic acid that WE DO NOT RECOMMEND) are two of the most well-known internal/oral treatments of acne.

If you want to clear your acne without Accutane, you can! Since Accutane is a synthetic form of vitamin A, natural forms of Vitamin A, such as Clove Hill Skin Clarity, which uses Palmitate sources, work just as well— without harmful side effects. For more information surrounding the dangers and side effects of Accutane, take a look at our article exploring this.

There is a ton of information available online, both on websites and in medical journals, which can get pretty deep into the science of why vitamin A for acne is a good treatment method. If you are looking for a more simplified version, here it is:

How Does Vitamin A for Acne Work?

First, we must have an understanding of what acne is before knowing how vitamin A works will make sense. For most people, acne is an “inherited condition of the pores.” This means that the way the pores perform or behave is inherited. The causes of acne, however, are not consistent—what caused acne for your mom or dad may not cause it for you. This also explains why your best friend may eat the same foods as you, and share many other things in common with you, but not have acne when you do. They did not inherit the specific behaviors that cause acne to develop at the level of the skin.

Do you know YOUR primary acne cause? Still struggling with an unsure self-diagnosis?

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What are these specific behaviors of the pore that cause acne?

A process called retention hyperkeratosis is what makes specific pores acne-prone versus a healthy pore that never breaks out. It is this under-the-skin process that is shedding up to 5 times the amount of dead skin cells per day than a healthy cell. A healthy cell will shed approximately one layer of dead skin per day inside the pore. The pore cannot expel the excess dead skin cells, so they start to build up in the pore.

Here is a video illustrating this cell malfunction:

In addition to a mass of dead skin cells forming under the skin, a sticky layer starts to form as well and creates what is called a microcomodone. A microcomodone is the beginning stage of a breakout, underneath the skin, consisting of sticky dead skin cells. These cannot be seen just by looking at the surface of your skin! They will linger underneath the skin for up to 90 days before you can ever see or feel them at the surface.

Now that we know that, at the skin level, acne is a genetic condition where the pores are turning over too many dead skin cells in a day (compared to a normal cell), it makes sense that we would want to slow down cellular turnover AND treat acne from the inside out.

This is where vitamin A for acne can be beneficial because vitamin A (in specific forms) slows down cell turnover. In short:

  • Vitamin A helps skin repair itself so that dead skin cells turn over less (a.k.a. slows down cell turnover), often leading to less clogged pores. There are also secondary effects, such as reduced inflammation and reduced androgens in the skin, which can also contribute to clogged pores.
  • Those with inflammatory acne are often assumed to have low/decreased amounts of Vitamin A in their bodies.

Vitamin A from Food

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Vitamin A comes in many forms. You can get an active form of Vitamin A (retinol) from animal products, most notably, by eating liver weekly or drinking cod liver oils daily.

You aren’t likely to meet the therapeutic dose of vitamin A through diet alone without these animal resources of vitamin A (retinol).

Unfortunately, these vitamin A sources are also acne-triggering, due to their high levels of iodine and androgen (testosterone) stimulating side effects.

  • Carotenoids are another form of vitamin A, found in carrots, orange-yellow vegetables, and leafy greens. Consuming provitamin A (carotenoids), a precursor to the retinol form of vitamin A which is in plant sources, will not be enough to reach the recommended 10,000 IU of vitamin A per day.

You only absorb about 1/12th of carotenoids through digestion, so supplementation is absolutely necessary.

Best Vitamin A Supplements for Acne

  • The active form of Vitamin A (retinoids) has an upper safety limit of 10,000 IUs per day. Most supplements don’t go above 5,000 IUs of retinoids.
  • If you are diabetic, pregnant, or breastfeeding, seek advice from your physician before supplementing with vitamin A.
  • You cannot overdose on provitamin A (carotenoids), but your skin might turn an orange hue if you take too much. Simply taking less will alleviate the problem.

Skin Clarity Supplement for Acne

Since there is a wide range of consensus that Vitamin A is one of the best acne treatments, we recommend Clove Hill Multi for Acne-Prone Skin for mild to moderate acne, and in cases of more severe acne, the slightly stronger Clove Hill Skin Clarity Daily Packs. The acne vitamin blends we offer are composed of the plant-based form of Vitamin A carotenoid, Betanine, and the vitamin A retinoid, Palmitate which is commonly found in much lower quantities in skim milk (but because cow’s milk is an acne trigger this is not a recommended source). The blends also contain a proprietary mix of herbs and a few of the other best vitamins for acne, such as zinc and selenium.

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.


All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Natural Acne Clinic makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

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About the Founder: 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.


  1. Do you ship to Asia?
    Also, are you interested if I bring naturalacneclinic to asia? We have thousands of women with this problem, provided hot & humid climate of asia.


  2. Hi!

    Saw your post (Vitamin A For Acne) & was wondering if you can help? I have breakouts & inflammation on my chin area. Everyday I wake up I get a new one or two

    I would like to start taking Vitamin A, but not sure how many mg? I should note that I took Accutane yrs ago & Vitamin A & it worked well for me! But suddenly some of acne came back on my chin & around mouth

    Any advice/tips?

    1. Hi Jojo,
      Thank you for this question! A therapeutic dose of 10,000 iu’s of Vitamin A can be taken per day when actively breaking out. After our clients get clear from our Online Acne Clearing Program, they reduce the amount of Vitamin A to about 3-5,0000 iu’s per day to maintain their clear skin.

      If you are looking for comprehensive solution I recommend our 60-minute Online Acne Consultation. I promise you will end the call feeling empowered and ready to clear your skin- once and for all:)

      Natural Acne Clinic Founder

  3. Hello!

    I have moderate acne around my chin, mouth and upper back 🙁 I already took Accutane so I don’t know what’s the deal? Thinking about getting the Vitamedica Healthy Skin supplement but would like to know if it is safe to take on a daily basis (every single day – forever)?

    1. Hello Jay,
      Thank you for your question! Yes, Vitamin A derived naturally is safe to take on a daily basis. If acne prone, the Healthy Skin Supplement is a safe alternative to Accutane to reduce oil and cell turnover. We offer a subscription for this product that saves you 5% and ships monthly!

      Natural Acne Clinic Founder

  4. Is it safe for a young teen to take the supplements and wondering the size of pills? My daughter is 13 and has not been successful swallowing pills. Thank you

    1. Hi Dawn, thanks for your question. Yes, it is safe for a teen to take the supplements, and we have many clients who are right around your daughter’s age. I always recommend swallowing the pills with a little apple sauce, as this will help them to go down smoothly.

  5. Hello!
    I am interested in taking the vitamin supplements you offer that contains vitamin a and zinc to help clear up my long lasting acne. However, the site won’t accept my card for some reason I’m not sure if I’m typing something in wrong or what. Is there any other supplements you suggest from a local drug store that would contain both vitamin A and Zinc??

    1. Thank you for contacting us! The supplements we provide are specifically formulated for acne prone skin and are of high quality, organically sourced ingredients. If you are having trouble ordering online, feel free to give us a call at 720-340-2263, and we can help you troubleshoot what could be going on with payments.

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