Magnesium for acne: My experience & tips

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably already tried (what feels like) everything for your acne. Accutane, spironolactone, the pill, antibiotics, topicals… the list goes on and on. I finally decided to bite the bullet and try more ‘natural’ ways of combatting my hormonal acne, the key to which, alongside diet changes, was a variety of supplements. Enter, magnesium.

Magnesium for acne 1

Magnesium for acne: Everything you need to know

Magnesium is a mineral that plays an essential role in numerous bodily processes, from blood sugar regulation to muscle and nerve function. Plus points? While I wouldn’t call it an acne cure (I know how having acne feels, so I’m not here to make ridiculous promises), it can play an effective role in helping to keep your skin clear.

Can magnesium help to clear acne?

Yes, it can. Although there aren’t any conclusive studies (yet) that focus solely on acne and magnesium, there are numerous reasons it could be helpful.

Firstly: cortisol. This is known as the ‘stress hormone’ because your body produces it in response to stress. The problem? If cortisol is chronically elevated, it can contribute to breakouts by stimulating the sebaceous glands in your skin to produce more oil. It can also trigger inflammatory responses in the body, again, contributing to acne.

The good news? Studies show that magnesium may help to regulate cortisol by modulating neurotransmitters that influence the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands. It’s also thought that magnesium can contribute to estrogen detoxification, which is often a factor in chronic hormonal acne.

Secondly, sleep. Yes, really! Studies show that people with higher magnesium levels tend to experience better sleep. Good sleep is vital for everyone, but especially for those who struggle with hormonal acne. It helps to regulate hormones that can worsen breakouts, helps your skin repair itself, reduces inflammation and helps to reduce stress all in one.

Thirdly, magnesium is thought to help to regulate your blood sugar. This is important because spikes in blood sugar trigger the release of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1. Elevated levels of these particular hormones can, over time, contribute to inflammation, increased oil production and the development of acne.

Still, don’t take magnesium alone and think it’ll instantly cure your acne – trust me, I wish that was the case, but for most people, it’s probably not. But it might be a valuable addition to your overall acne management routine.

Magnesium supplements for acne

Does it matter what form of magnesium I take?

Yes! Trust me, before I worked with a nutritionist, I didn’t even realise there were multiple ‘forms’ of each type of vitamin/mineral – and that type you take does make a difference to how well it’ll work.

When it comes to magnesium, I’ve been advised by a nutritionist to take magnesium glycinate specifically. It’s gentle on the stomach but has a high absorption rate. Magnesium citrate is also well-absorbed, however, it’s also used as a laxative which we obviously don’t want.

If you’re based in the UK and need a recommendation, take a look at Focus Supplements Magnesium. It’s in glycinate form, free from unnecessary extras and they’re a super trustworthy supplier. I buy my DIM and turmeric from them too.

You might also come across magnesium oxide, which is generally much cheaper. However, it’s less bioavailable (absorbed) by the body, so you’re not getting better value for money.

How much magnesium should I take for acne?

Currently, there’s no established recommended dose of magnesium specifically for acne. For that reason, you should go by the general recommendation of a maximum of 350mg per day, according to The National Academy of Medicine.

However, just because 350mg is the maximum, it doesn’t mean you need to take that much. If budget is an issue for you (these supplements can add up quickly, can’t they?) do consider the fact that you can obtain magnesium from food, too.

The best sources include pumpkin and chia seeds, dark leafy greens, beans and legumes, and nuts, particularly almonds and cashews. If you focus on consuming plenty of these foods, you’re likely to increase your consumption of magnesium without the need for supplements.

In fact, I’d always recommend a food-first approach, but if you go down that route and still have persisting symptoms, that’s where supplements come in.

Be aware that magnesium supplements could interact with some medications, including antibiotics and diuretics. If you’re taking any prescription medications, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any supplements you’re taking.

Magnesium glycinate for acne

My experience with magnesium supplements for acne

Here’s some information on my personal experience with magnesium supplements, including my results and whether I think it’s actually been worth the money.

Did magnesium supplements clear my skin?

Magnesium supplements alone didn’t clear my skin, but I believe they play a huge role in helping to manage my chronic hormonal breakouts.

After years of trying conventional treatments such as spironolactone, birth control pills, accutane and antibiotics, I recently decided to try the natural route of improving my acne. This included getting blood tests to pinpoint any deficiencies and hormonal imbalances.

You can read about my full experience here – but, put simply, the results of these tests led to me making a wide range of lifestyle choices and successfully clearing my skin. Magnesium was part of that, but not the entire solution.

I vouch for magnesium in improving my sleep, which, as mentioned earlier, plays a huge role in managing hormonal acne. It regulates the hormones that can worsen breakouts, helps your skin repair itself and reduces inflammation, too.

When I take magnesium before bed, I – no word of a lie – barely wake up in the night, in comparison to regularly waking up when I don’t take them. For me, magnesium leads to mega deep sleep. You might just say this is just a placebo effect (I was suspicious too), but I’ve tested it by not taking them and instantly noticing a lower quality of sleep.

I also believe that magnesium, alongside other diet changes, may be helping to regulate my blood sugar. When I had my tests done, it showed my glucose levels were a little higher than they should be for someone of my age. I used to get a major crash around an hour after eating my lunch (likely, due to a crash in blood sugar), but I don’t get those anymore.

How is this linked to acne, you ask? Well, as mentioned earlier, balancing your blood sugar is also key to naturally managing hormonal acne breakouts. Over time, consistent blood sugar spikes can contribute to inflammation, increased oil production and the development of acne.

Here’s how bad my acne was back in the day:

Positives of hormonal acne

And here’s how it is now, after a huge lifestyle change, including magnesium supplements:

Results from using turmeric supplements for acne

How much magnesium I take

I take two capsules per day, which amounts to 250mg of active magnesium. This is well within the maximum dose of 350mg per day, so I could take more, but at the moment, I don’t feel I need to.

It’s always worth testing out how you react to taking 1 capsule, instead of 2. After all, if you notice a significant improvement in your sleep (or notice other benefits) by taking just 1 capsule, it means your money will go further.

The magnesium supplement I take

I take magnesium glycinate from Focus Supplements.

There are magnesium supplements available here there and everywhere, but I’m a firm believer in quality when it comes to supplements. This is a UK-based company that has strict quality control procedures, meaning they’re ISO & GMP certified.

I’ve occasionally ordered magnesium glycinate on Amazon too, but I always check the form and the ingredients, to ensure the capsule isn’t packed with unnecessary additives. Here are a few I’d recommend:

Which magnesium supplements are best for acne?

Other supplements I take for acne

Just in case you’re curious, here are the supplements I use alongside Focus Supplements Magnesium to keep my skin clear. And trust me, it’s the clearest it’s been in years without being on any prescription medication.

  • Vitamin D: I use 2x sprays daily of the BetterYou D1000 Daily Oil Spray and will continue doing so indefinitely, especially in the winter. 
  • Turmeric: I take 2 capsules of Focus Supplements Turmeric every day and it does a great job of reducing inflammation on any spots that do pop up. Turmeric has an endless list of health benefits in addition to potentially helping acne, so it’s a win-win.
  • DIM: I was already taking DIM for my acne, and continue to do so, as it benefits estrogen metabolism, which is an issue for me. My DIM of choice is the Focus Supplements DIM.
  • Vegan omega 3: I was already taking this for general health, however, I’ve increased my dose to support inflammation and hormone production. I use OmVits.
  • Multivitamin: Again, I was already taking this to support my general health. I use OmVits, as they use the most bioavailable forms of each nutrient, but are fairly priced.

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