Review of Zinc Picolinate for Acne

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Acne is an incredibly common condition that 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 suffered from acne for many years, but the doctors told me there was nothing that 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.

Androgens like testosterone, and also IGF-1, are two hormones which cause the skin to break out with acne. Higher levels are often associated with how severe the condition becomes as well.

Before reading how I used zinc picolinate to clear up my acne, as well as the science behind it, watch the video below to learn more about the warning signs of zinc deficiency.

Watch what Dr. Axe has to say about Zinc Deficiency.

If you feel that you could be low in zinc, I recommend either of these supplements to improve zinc levels:

Solgar Zinc Picolinate 22 mg (

Now Foods Zinc Picolinate 50 mg (Amazon)

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 with fewer side effects.

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

So now 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

Looking at zinc and its role in acne has been studied for a long time. Even as far back as the 1970s, researchers looked at using zinc sulfate for the treatment of mild to moderate acne.

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

Later, in a study published in 1977, patients were given oral zinc combined with vitamin A and the results were amazing.

They saw the mean acne score in patients decrease from 100% to 15% – that’s a massive improvement. The researchers also noted that the addition of vitamin A did not make a difference.

Finally, another study examined the effect of zinc and oxytetracycline on 37 patients with moderate to severe acne.

Acne scores had decreased by about 70%, which is similar to the level of improvement seen in the previous study. And no significant side effects were seen either.

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 patients treated using 30 mg of elemental zinc per day had clinical success, compared to 63% of those taking minocycline antibiotics.

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

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 even in the presence or absence of p.acne’s resistance.

Zinc Picolinate

I’ve not been able to find studies specifically using zinc picolinate for treating acne, other than anecdotal reports, which I will link below.

However, there is one study that shows that complexing zinc with picolinic acid might be superior for absorption. When researchers gave the subjects different forms of zinc, only zinc picolinate showed a significant increase when measured.

At the end of four weeks, hair, urine and erythrocyte zinc levels rose significantly during zinc picolinate administration. There was no significant change in any of these parameters from zinc gluconate, zinc citrate or placebo administration.

See the study here.

Breaking it down: Which zinc supplement should you take?

Absorption rates for different forms of zinc can vary significantly. In the study above, they showed that only in the zinc picolinate group was there a significant increase in zinc levels.

However, data from previous studies have given us some answers on some of the most popular forms of zinc and their absorption rate.

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

As you can see, zinc citrate and zinc gluconate are much better than zinc oxide. So if you don’t get on well with zinc picolinate, there are other options that you could try.

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 as well! 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, and whatever else I could think of.

The acne seemed to be resistant to just about everything I threw at it.

I also 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 a zinc picolinate supplement.

I was thinking to myself: could it be that easy?

I normally had been taking zinc on and off for years, but then I realized I hadn’t been taking it for a really long time.

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

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.

The positive effects on my skin from taking zinc continued: Within weeks, I felt that my skin looked so much better. The only thing I was left with was the red marks that were from the acne.

As I write this, it’s been well over a year 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.

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.

Some people recommended to give it up to 12 weeks for zinc to work because acne begins to form in the skin weeks or even months before it makes an appearance on the surface. So if it’s not working within a few days, just relax!

Here’s a couple of messages I received from people who were suffering from acne. They read my post and they also decided to give zinc a try.

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 Zinc Picolinate was the first zinc supplement I was taking. Then after a few months, I decreased that to 22 mg per day.

This is the zinc supplement I take now to support skin health.

Zinc really made a huge difference for me and many other people who have tried it. It’s definitely worth a try.

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 that linked vitamin D with the development of acne and acne severity.

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

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. And after having stopped, my levels would have dropped significantly.

I work from home, so for most of the day, I wasn’t getting enough sun. And therefore, not producing the vitamin D I needed. So I began taking vitamin D3 (1000 IU).

Vitamin D by itself might not be a complete solution, but it does appear to be helpful in controlling inflammation.


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 which I’ve discussed in this article, zinc appears to be almost as effective as some standard acne treatments.

Since writing this article, many people have written to me to tell me that they have had great results after they tried taking either zinc picolinate or zinc gluconate.

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, zinc should definitely be a concern for you because many people on these diets don’t get enough. But even if you’re not on a plant-based diet, it’s worth trying!

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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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