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Do antioxidants have an effect on acne?

Antioxidants are small molecules that inhibit chemical reactions leading to cell damage of the body. Antioxidants are made up of so-called ‘polyphenols’ which can be found in many foods including vegetables, wine and tea. 

In this article, we highlight some findings from a study gathering scientific evidence on how antioxidants may affect acne.

  • Antioxidants are known to have anti-inflammatory effects which might help fight acne! Acne is a so-called ‘inflammatory’ skin disease, which means that decreasing the inflammatory response of the skin may soothe the symptoms of red, swollen pimples. Some studies have shown that the number of pimples significantly decreased when consuming antioxidants known from green tea and apples for 4-8 weeks.
  • Antioxidants in topical formulations may be beneficial in reducing sebum production. Sebum is an oily, waxy substance naturally produced in the skin. In acne, sebum production is increased. Finding a way to decrease this substance might, therefore, be beneficial for people with acne.
  • Further studies are needed! For now, there are not enough studies to claim antioxidants as a standard treatment for acne. The available studies have some limitations in the way these are structured, and/or they contain too few participants to conclude something with statistical conviction. However, when summarised these types of studies still play an important role and should be seen as a basis for further research.

So, should you start drinking lots of green tea if you have acne? Perhaps! It might be helpful, but for now, scientists do not have sufficient evidence for a final conclusion.


Title of publication: Green Tea and Other Tea Polyphenols: Effects on Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris
Date and journal: Antioxidants / Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI), December 2016,
Link to article: Antioxidants (Basel). 2016 Dec 29;6(1). pii: E2. doi: 10.3390/antiox6010002.

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