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Does Creatine Cause Acne Or Make It Worse?

Does Creatine Cause Acne Or Make It Worse?

A photo showing creatine supplement

Does creatine cause acne? There is no direct scientific evidence that shows a connection between taking creatine and acne outbreaks.

However, as we will discover in this article, anecdotal reports suggest that creatine might promote acne indirectly due to lifestyle factors such as sweating from the gym and increasing hormones such as IGF-1 and DHT.

Key Takeaways

  • There is no direct scientific evidence that creatine monohydrate, a common supplement for enhancing athletic performance, causes acne.
  • Anecdotal reports suggest creatine might indirectly promote acne by influencing hormone levels or due to lifestyle changes, such as increased sweating from exercise and dietary shifts.
  • To mitigate any potential indirect effects of creatine on acne, it is advised to maintain good hygiene, select ‘non-comedogenic’ skincare products, and ensure proper hydration.

Table of Contents

Understanding Creatine and Its Role in the Body

Infographic that shows creatines role in the body and how it builds muscle and helps physical performance
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Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in high-energy organs like the brain and muscle cells. It plays a vital role in energy production during high-intensity activities by serving as a phosphate carrier for rapid ATP generation. The most commonly studied and used form of creatine, which is an amino acid derivative, is creatine monohydrate. Liquid creatine is another form available for those who prefer a different mode of consumption.

The benefits of creatine supplementation are plentiful, as it promotes muscle growth and boosts athletic performance. This is especially advantageous for athletes, bodybuilders, and vegetarians who might naturally possess lower creatine levels.

The Acne and Creatine Connection: Is There One?

Currently, no proven connection between creatine and acne has been scientifically established. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that some individuals believe that creatine supplementation leads to acne breakouts.

Increased IGF-1 Levels

Although creatine does not directly cause acne, it could potentially impact insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which is linked to sebum production and hormonal imbalances, thereby possibly contributing to acne development.

Several studies have examined the potential link between creatine supplementation and IGF-1 levels. Some research suggests that creatine supplementation may lead to an increase in circulating levels of IGF-1, particularly in response to resistance training. However, the evidence regarding this connection is not entirely consistent, and more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between creatine and IGF-1.

Hormonal Fluctuations and DHT Levels

There’s a possibility that creatine supplementation might affect hormonal acne by altering dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels, a hormone often associated with acne, particularly in individuals susceptible to hormone-driven acne.

A study carried out with male college rugby players, taking creatine for 21 days showed a significant increase in DHT by up to 56%. However, critics have pointed out flaws in the study, highlighting the need for more research.

The Connection Between Exercising And Acne

Man working out in the gym using battle ropes

With the science being inconclusive around the effects of creatine supplementation and the increase in acne, it leads us to believe that the reports of increased acne are more likely to be from strenuous activity.

While exercising has numerous benefits for our mental and physical health. Individuals who are prone to acne either through hormones or genetics need to practice exercising with their skin health in mind.

Exercising And Acne, What You Need To Know

Although there are no direct links between creatine and acne, some indirect factors could associate them. Enhanced sweating resulting from increased exercise with creatine supplementation might contribute to the development of acne.

Exercise and perspiration could cause a buildup of bacteria and dirt on the skin, increasing the likelihood of acne rather than creatine itself.

How To Prevent Acne Caused By Exercising

Practice Proper Skin Care

Intense workouts and heavy lifting result in excess sweating, leading to an accumulation of bacteria and dirt on the skin, thereby elevating acne risk.

To reduce the risk of acne after exercise, it’s important to promptly shower after training and cleanse the face with a gentle, oil-free product to remove sweat and bacteria.

Dietary Adjustments

When individuals start supplementing with creatine, they often make additional dietary changes to support muscle building and performance goals.

It’s important to maintain a balanced healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables even though you are focusing on your protein intake, this will promote healthy skin.


Ensuring sufficient hydration is key for maintaining skin health and preventing acne. Hydration is vital for maintaining the skin’s lipid barrier, which prevents moisture loss and keeps the skin healthy.

Staying hydrated can help control oil production and reduce the likelihood of acne breakouts.

Can Creatine Supplementation Help With Anything Else Other Than Muscle?

Creatine is more than just a muscle booster. It can enhance cognitive function and memory, especially in older adults or during metabolic stress like sleep deprivation. Studies indicate that creatine has neuroprotective effects and may improve outcomes in traumatic brain injuries and support mental health in conditions like depression.

Addressing Common Concerns About Creatine Side Effects

There are common concerns about creatine side effects, such as weight gain and hair loss. However, these concerns are often misunderstood. Creatine leads to weight gain primarily through water retention and increased muscle mass rather than contributing to fat gain.

How to Choose and Use Creatine Supplements Responsibly

Choosing and using creatine supplements responsibly involves several factors, including selecting the right creatine supplement and taking creatine supplements appropriately. Taking creatine supplementation, such as creatine monohydrate, is the most researched and established form of creatine supplementation, recommended for its various benefits including improved muscle recovery, power, endurance, and potential neuroprotective properties.

We advise you to do your research on the supplement company you are purchasing from, and always stick to the recommended doses.


In summary, creatine is a beneficial supplement that offers multiple benefits beyond muscle growth. While anecdotal evidence suggests a possible link between creatine use and acne, scientific evidence fails to conclusively establish this link.

Creatine is widely considered a safe and effective supplement for building muscle mass, with no scientifically established connection to acne or major side effects.

Are You Currently Suffering From Acne?

Are you struggling with acne breakouts and seeking effective solutions? Our experienced dermatologist, Dr. Sharon Crichlow, offers expert guidance and personalised treatment plans to address your acne concerns. Don’t let acne affect your confidence and well-being any longer. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Crichlow today to take the first step towards clearer, healthier skin.

Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?

Read our blog to find out everything you need to know about creatine and hair loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

Currently, there is no direct scientific evidence linking creatine supplementation to acne breakouts. However, anecdotal reports suggest that some individuals believe creatine might indirectly promote acne due to factors such as increased sweating during exercise and potential hormonal influences.

While there's no definitive evidence, some studies suggest that creatine supplementation may impact hormone levels, such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which could potentially influence acne development in susceptible individuals.

Intense physical activity, combined with creatine supplementation, may lead to increased sweating and bacterial buildup on the skin, potentially exacerbating acne. However, exercise itself offers numerous health benefits, and maintaining proper hygiene practices can help mitigate acne risk.

It's essential to maintain a balanced diet with adequate hydration, especially when supplementing with creatine. Incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables and staying hydrated can support overall skin health and minimise acne risk.

Yes, beyond muscle growth, creatine has shown potential benefits for cognitive function and mental health, particularly in older adults and individuals experiencing metabolic stress. Studies suggest that creatine may have neuroprotective effects and support mental well-being.

Common concerns about creatine side effects, such as weight gain and hair loss, are often misunderstood. Creatine primarily leads to weight gain through water retention and increased muscle mass, with no significant fat gain. When choosing creatine supplements, opt for established forms like creatine monohydrate and adhere to recommended doses for safe and effective use.

It's essential to maintain a balanced diet with adequate hydration, especially when supplementing with creatine. Incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables and staying hydrated can support overall skin health and minimise acne risk.

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