Review of Zinc Picolinate for Acne

Acne is an incredibly common condition which will affect most people at one time or another. Could a simple supplement like zinc picolinate be the answer for people who suffer from acne?

Did you know that one of the symptoms of zinc deficiency is acne? It recently happened to me and it lasted for months! Nothing worked at all.

Back when I was a teenager, I also suffered from acne for many years, but the doctors told me there was nothing which could be done about it, except that I would eventually grow out of it, and so they just prescribed me more antibiotics.

It was only later when I was approaching 20 and changed my diet to a healthy one did my acne completely clear up.

Diet clearly does have an important role in acne, but it’s not the only factor.

Hormones, in particular, androgens like testosterone and IGF-1 are two which cause acne to develop and can be a factor in how severe it becomes. But before I tell you my recent story about how I cured acne using zinc picolinate, I want to share why zinc is important and how it can help you achieve clear skin very fast.

Which is the best form of zinc for acne?

From my research and experience, zinc picolinate is the best form of zinc if you have acne. This is due to its superior absorption.

Before continuing, watch what Dr. Axe has to say about Zinc Deficiency.

How can zinc picolinate help your acne?

There are different forms of zinc supplements, some are better than others, so it’s important to choose the right one if you want it to be effective and also cause fewer side effects.

Zinc is thought to regulate sebum production in the skin and regulate how the immune system responds by decreasing inflammation, increasing the repair of any skin damage, and having a direct antimicrobial effect.

So let’s have a quick look at which zinc supplements have been tested on acne patients.

Comparison between zinc picolinate, zinc sulfate, and zinc gluconate

Zinc Sulfate

Zinc and its effect on acne have been studied for a long time. Even as far back as the 1970s, researchers looked at using zinc sulfate for the treatment of acne in those who had mild to moderate cases of it.

The results were positive, but many of the patients suffered from side effects during the treatment. Twenty-one percent of the patients could not tolerate the supplement.

In a study published in 1977, patients were given oral zinc combined with vitamin A for acne. The study showed that the addition of vitamin A did not improvement the overall result.

However, the result was amazing. They saw the mean acne score in patients had decreased from 100% to 15%! That’s a massive improvement.

And lastly, in yet another study, they looked at the effect of zinc and oxytetracycline in 37 patients with moderate to severe acne. No side effects were seen in either group and after 12 weeks of treatment, acne score had decreased by about 70%. Similar to what had been found in the previous study.

Zinc Gluconate

Zinc gluconate is better tolerated than zinc sulfate and has also been proven to help people who are suffering from acne.

In a study published in 2001, researchers found that 31% of treated using 30 mg of elemental zinc per day had clinical success compared to 63% of those taking minocycline antibiotic.

Given that resistance is increasing for antibiotics, it’s good to know that for some people, zinc is a good and viable alternative.

It’s also possible that using zinc with certain antibiotics might be synergistic and provide a better result.

Another study published in 2005 looked at the effect of zinc gluconate on acne inflammatory lesions and found a decrease in symptoms after 2 months of using the supplement. This was true in the presence or absence of p.acne’s resistance.

Zinc Picolinate

Unlike the previous two, I’ve not been able to find much in terms of studies using this form of zinc in treating people with acne.

However, there are studies looking at which form of zinc is best.

In this study, they gave patients different forms of zinc: zinc picolinate, zinc gluconate, zinc citrate, and a placebo.

Only in the zinc picolinate group did zinc levels increase significantly.

See the study here.

Breaking it down: Which is the best form of zinc?

Absorption rates for different forms of zinc can vary significantly. In the study above, they showed that only in the zinc picolinate group did they find increased levels of zinc.

However, from previous studies, we know that the absorption rate for different zinc supplements is as follows:

  • Zinc Citrate – 61.3%
  • Zinc Gluconate – 60.9%
  • Zinc Oxide – 49.9%

So if you want to go for another zinc supplement other than zinc picolinate, you should choose either zinc citrate or zinc gluconate.

My experience using zinc to cure my acne

As I mentioned above, I had a recurrence of my acne after 10 years of having relatively clear skin.

It seemed to have come out of nowhere, and I tried everything from different cleansers, removing foods from my diet, trying all kinds of supplements, putting things on my skin like green tea, garlic capsules among other things.

Let’s just say, the acne seemed to be resistance to just about everything I threw at it.

I had other things going on at the time which was quite unusual for me. I got sick a lot more often than I normally would, and the infections seemed more severe.

I also had dry skin, my skin felt rough, and of course, there was the acne. And my hair seemed to be getting thinner!

It was by chance that I came across this thread on an acne forum where the person on there mentions that they finally cured their acne after taking zinc picolinate.

Could it be that easy?

So, I normally had been taking zinc on and off for years, but for quite a while I had stopped taking it and I never really thought anything of it.

And since my diet is so high in copper, it’s a lot easier for me to develop a secondary deficiency of zinc. I’m also a vegan, so I get less zinc in my diet because of that also.

The results were fast and amazing!

Within a few days, the acne I was getting on a daily basis was a lot calmer. The spots felt less inflamed and my skin was less red.

Any spots that I had at the time began to heal, and things were looking up. I thought maybe I was having just a few good days.

But nope. The positive effect of taking zinc continued and within weeks my skin looked so much better. The only thing I was left with is the red marks left over from where the spots were.

I read the thread in its entirety (and many others), and people recommended to give it up to 12 weeks to really work well. The reason is that acne begins to form in the skin weeks or even months before it makes an appearance.

It’s been well over a year now and I no longer have any acne. And I’ve not even developed a cold or been sick at all in the entire time I’ve taken zinc picolinate supplement.

It’s pretty amazing! I’ve talked about my results after using zinc on this blog and on various forums. I want to get the message out there that sometimes the solution really is simple.

Zinc might not work for you or it might just help a little bit.

It also might help you a lot…

How much zinc did I take?

When I first started to take zinc, I assumed I was deficient, so I began taking a fairly high dose of 100 mg per day. I split it up into two doses of 50 mg.

Now Foods 50 mg Zinc Picolinate was the first zinc supplement I was taking.

After a few months, when I thought my deficiency was corrected and I was feeling much better, I decreased that to 22 mg of zinc picolinate and I’ve continued on this dose ever since.

This is the zinc supplement I take now.

I’m surprised how well it worked! The supplement effectively cured my acne and it’s possible that it might work for you also.

Taking zinc and Vitamin D together is better

At some point in my research to find a solution to my acne problem, I came across another article which linked vitamin D with the development of acne and acne severity.

The study found that deficiency of vitamin D was detected in close to 50% of people with acne compared to only 22% of people without acne.

There was also a correlation with inflammatory lesions on the skin and a notable improvement upon supplementing vitamin D3.

I had to stop taking vitamin D at some point because my doctor told me my levels were too high. I must have stopped for almost a year if my memory is correct.

This means, due to working from home, and not getting out during the day, but only in the morning and evening, I may have been low in vitamin D as well.

So, I also began taking vitamin D3 (1000 IU) per day.

It’s possible that Zinc may have had the biggest effect on my acne, but maybe vitamin D also helped.  I don’t know for sure, but it would make sense, so I just thought I’d share that.

Word of caution: if you plan on taking zinc for acne, do not exceed the recommended dose. If you are considering taking this long-term, speak with your doctor.


Acne is one of the most common signs of a zinc deficiency but fortunately, it can be corrected by supplementing zinc. According to several studies, the response rate is high and fast.

In fact, since writing this article I have had several people tell me that they also had an extremely good result in clearing up their acne from taking either zinc picolinate or zinc gluconate.

So if you believe that your diet is low in zinc, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, give it a try!

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1 Comment

  • Hi Matt, you might have just saved my skin and the skin of a couple friends of mine! Starting with the supplements tomorrow…

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