Do pre workout supplements create acne?

A pre-workout supplement can be great to improve your performance in the gym.

However, if you are not talking about it with your doctor, then there are several side effects that you should know about before consuming any supplements. One is that they may not be ideal if your skin is prone to acne.

Can Pre-Workout Supplements Cause Acne?

Your skin’s pores can be blocked by bacteria, oil, dirt, or dead skin cells. This can cause a zit or pimple. If you have a breakout of many of these at the same time, you may have acne.

9.4% of people worldwide have acne.

The most common types are blackheads and whiteheads. But severe acne can be painful and cause skin scarring. A common acne cause is when a sebaceous oil gland creates too much sebum. This oil travels up a hair follicle and blocks the skin’s pores.

Some people have reported acne breakouts on their faces due to these supplements, which might be caused by the ingredients found in them. But the exact cause of the breakouts isn’t known for sure yet.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that certain ingredients and foods may aggravate acne. Dairy products are one example, but the casein protein found in milk may be the culprit.

Another suspected acne trigger is chocolate, which contains a fair amount of caffeine and theobromine, which are stimulants that may affect hormone levels.

The Curse pre workout

Generally, greasy foods and sugary foods are linked to acne. Research has shown that a diet consisting of low glycemic index foods or high in whole foods may be beneficial for those with acne-prone skin.

Foods rich in antioxidants such as sweet potato, blueberries, and salmon can also help to protect the skin from damage.

Why May Acne Be Caused By Them?

Artificial Sweeteners

Many pre-workout supplements with a sweet taste may contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose which may potentially cause acne.

This can happen due to recent research which suggests that they can increase insulin levels similar to regular sugar. It is thought that this may be directly related to acne breakouts.

acne on skin

Studies on the consumption of both aspartame and sucralose have revealed that they can produce an increase in insulin levels and insulin resistance when compared to a placebo group or a natural sweetener.

So if you want to avoid the risk of getting acne, then opting for a pre-workout supplement that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners might be the best option. An alternative is to use an all-natural pre-workout that may use a natural sweetener like stevia.


It is well known that pre-workout supplements are full of stimulants. It is common for a supplement to contain 100-300mgs of caffeine per serving.

caffeine formula

This may in turn cause acne. Caffeine in particular can be a problem because it can increase your body temperature and raise your heart rate. This will often result in hyperactive adrenal glands which produce cortisol.

A good alternative to using a supplement containing stimulants before exercise is to drink a cup of coffee rather than a pre-workout.

Dehydrated Skin

Dehydration is another factor in acne production. This is particularly a problem during a workout when combined with high levels of caffeine.

When you’re sweating profusely and not drinking enough water to replace what you lose, you can become dehydrated. Your body will try to compensate by increasing oil production, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.


Magnesium is very important for the reduction of inflammation in the body and these magnesium levels can be reduced by the consumption of caffeine. This magnesium is then excreted from the body in the urine. Scientific studies suggest that an increase in the amount of inflammation may be connected to acne.

Ingredients That Can Cause Acne

It may be difficult to establish exactly which ingredients are causing acne in these supplements, but some are more likely than others.

Whey protein shakes can cause issues as they can have many ingredients that are not very natural. When combined with a high-carb diet, a breakout in the skin can be triggered.

Food with a high glycemic index can be another cause of problems because high levels of insulin can cause acne to break out.

Controlling insulin is one of the biggest challenges for the reduction of acne and clear skin due to IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) and other ingredients.

Other Factors That May Contribute To Acne


Another factor that may cause acne is stress. When you are under any type of stress, your body releases hormones that can affect oil production in your skin which can lead to blackheads and whiteheads.

Hormonal Imbalance

Some dietary supplements may contain hormonal ingredients which may create an imbalance in your body and lead to worsening acne.

Dry Skin

Dry skin can be a contributing factor to acne. Dryness can prompt the skin to create more oils. This can lead to clogged pores and therefore more acne. Acne treatments can cause dry skin so a moisturizer can help.

However, many skin moisturizers can be too rich for acne-prone skin or can contain ingredients that clog your pores. So it is important to select an appropriate moisturizer.

How You Can Reduce Acne When Taking Supplements

Take Fish Oil

Fish oils are high in omega-3s that offer several important benefits such as improved skin health and reduced inflammation. Fish oils can also suppress hormone production which can be beneficial for acne sufferers.

fish oils

Fish oil supplements also contain DHA and EPA which are proven to reduce inflammation and help to reduce the severity of acne.

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle has been utilized for a very long time for skin health and its liver-supporting properties.

It contains an antioxidant called silymarin which can reduce inflammation associated with acne.

Include Sufficient Vitamin A In Your Diet

Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that can help to control hormonal balance and prevent an imbalance of skin oil levels that cause acne. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation.

You should get 5,000 IU of vitamin A daily but care should be taken to not take more as this can lead to other health issues.

Shower With Cold Water

Taking hot showers reduces oiliness in the skin which causes the body to produce more oil to compensate. This can be a problem for those with acne as this can clog pores and worsen symptoms.

Cold showers help to cleanse the skin of the accumulation of oil but don’t dry out the skin making it better for getting rid of breakouts.

Cold showers also increase white blood cell count which can boost the immune system. Having a high white cell count means better strength to fight off acne-causing bacteria.

Does C4 Cause Acne?

There is nothing specific in Cellucor C4 that might cause acne more than any other pre-workout. But if you are concerned about your skin and overall health, the C4 Sport by Cellucor is an alternative to consider. This is independently tested for contaminants and banned substances.

It is NSF Certified For Sport meaning that is a good choice for those wanting a guaranteed cleaner supplement such as athletes and beginners to pre-workouts.

Final Thoughts

While it is unlikely that you will find a pre-workout specifically designed to now cause acne, you can take into consideration their ingredients.

You can get the energy you need from natural caffeine sources such as green tea or organic coffee and natural pre-workout supplements can be a very good option. There are alternatives that can get you pumped and ready for your exercise routine.