How Workout Supplements Can Cause Acne and What to Do About It?

by Shatakshi Gupta

If you’re someone who loves working out and taking supplements to boost your performance, you might have noticed that your skin is breaking out more than usual. This is because some workout supplements can cause acne breakouts. In this article, we’ll explore why this happens and what you can do to prevent it.

Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people around the world. It occurs when the pores of the skin become clogged with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria, causing inflammation and infection. Acne can affect any part of the body, but it is most common on the face, chest, back and shoulders.

Acne can have many causes, such as genetics, hormones, stress, diet and medication. However, one factor that many people overlook is workout supplements. Workout supplements are products that are designed to enhance physical performance, energy and muscle growth. They can contain various ingredients, such as protein, amino acids, creatine, caffeine and vitamins. While these ingredients can have positive effects on the body, they can also have negative effects on the skin, such as acne breakouts.

In this article, we will explain how workout supplements can cause acne and what you can do to prevent it. We will also give you some tips on how to choose the right supplements for your skin type and how to take care of your skin before, during and after your workouts. By following these tips, you can enjoy the benefits of workout supplements without compromising your skin health.

Why Do Workout Supplements Cause Acne?

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There are two main ways that workout supplements can cause acne: by increasing oil production and by triggering inflammation.

Increasing Oil Production

Some workout supplements contain stimulants like caffeine, which can increase the production of sebum, the natural oil that lubricates the skin. Sebum is essential for keeping the skin healthy and hydrated, but too much of it can clog the pores and create an environment for acne-causing bacteria to grow.

Another factor that can increase oil production is the hormone testosterone. Testosterone is responsible for many aspects of male development, including muscle growth and strength. Some workout supplements contain ingredients that boost testosterone levels, such as creatine, DHEA, tribulus terrestris and fenugreek. While these ingredients may enhance athletic performance, they may also increase the risk of acne by stimulating the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum.

Triggering Inflammation

Some workout supplements contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame and acesulfame potassium. These sweeteners are used to improve the taste and reduce the calories of the supplements, but they may also have negative effects on the skin. Artificial sweeteners can trigger inflammation in the body by activating the immune system and increasing oxidative stress. Inflammation can worsen acne by causing redness, swelling and pain in the affected areas.

Another source of inflammation is dairy products, which are often used as a base for protein powders and shakes. Dairy products contain hormones and growth factors that can interfere with the normal balance of hormones in the body. This can lead to increased sebum production and inflammation in the skin. Dairy products can also contain lactose, a type of sugar that some people have difficulty digesting. Lactose intolerance can cause digestive issues like bloating, gas and diarrhea, which can also contribute to inflammation and acne.

How Can You Prevent Acne Breakouts from Workout Supplements?

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The good news is that you don’t have to give up your workout supplements entirely to prevent acne breakouts. You can still enjoy the benefits of these products by following some simple tips:

Choose supplements that are caffeine-free or low in caffeine. Caffeine can have positive effects on alertness, focus and endurance, but it can also increase oil production and stress levels, which can worsen acne. If you need a boost of energy before your workout, opt for natural sources of caffeine like green tea or coffee instead. These also contain antioxidants that protect your skin from damage.

Avoid supplements that contain artificial sweeteners or dairy products. Artificial sweeteners and dairy products can trigger inflammation and hormonal imbalances in the body, which can lead to acne breakouts. Instead, look for supplements that use natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit extract or unsweetened versions. You can also use plant-based protein powders or shakes made from soy, pea, hemp or rice.

Wash your face before and after your workout. Exercise creates perfect conditions for acne-causing bacteria and yeast to thrive on your skin due to increased sweat and oil. To prevent this, it’s important to maintain proper hygiene before, during and after your workouts. Wash your face with a mild oil-free cleanser before your workout to remove any makeup or dirt that could clog your pores. After your workout, wash your face again to rinse off any sweat or bacteria that could cause infections. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel and apply a moisturizer suitable for your skin type.

Wear clean breathable clothing. Dead skin cells, bacteria and oils on unwashed clothes can clog your pores and cause acne. Make sure you wear clean workout clothes washed since you last wore them. You should also choose clothes made from breathable fabrics like cotton or polyester that allow air circulation and prevent moisture buildup on your skin.

Wipe down any equipment that touches your face. Shared equipment at the gym or sports field can be full of acne-causing bacteria and oil that transfer to your skin when you touch them. To avoid this, wipe down any equipment that touches your face with a disinfectant wipe before you use it. This includes headphones, helmets, goggles, mats and weights.


Workout supplements can be beneficial for your fitness goals, but they can also cause acne breakouts if you’re not careful. By choosing the right supplements, washing your face, wearing clean clothes and wiping down equipment, you can prevent acne breakouts from workout supplements and enjoy clearer skin.