Does Creatine Cause Acne?

Acne is no walk in the park. While many of us grow out of this during our awkward teen years, some things can cause flare-ups later in life, including certain performance-enhancing supplements, but is creatine one of them? 

Can Creatine Cause Acne?

If you are considering taking creatine but are afraid of what it might do to your clear complexion, don’t worry. Current evidence does not show any relationship between acne and creatine supplementation. 

The misconception that creatine causes acne may come from its use as a supplement for muscle growth.

When people think of taking supplements to get more muscle, they often think of anabolic steroids which commonly cause acne as a side effect. 

Creatine is a naturally-occurring amino acid in your body while anabolic steroids are man-made compounds that mimic the male sex hormone, testosterone, to help boost muscle mass [1].

Additionally, some argue that creatine supplements increase testosterone production which can lead to acne however, this has not been proven.

How Does Creatine Impact Skin Health?

Creatine is an important amino acid that our body produces on its own; however, we can also obtain it from eating protein foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.

Some individuals may experience changes in their skin, including additional acne breakouts while taking creatine due to changes in their exercise routine that result in a higher frequency of sweating. 

Creatine is a supplement that can help improve exercise performance. Those who are working out harder for longer may notice more sweat which can clog pores and result in acne breakouts [2].

There has not been any research that confirms any negative implications of taking creatine supplementations and skin health however, there are some positive correlations. 

In fact, some studies have found that topical creatine may help reduce visible signs of aging by reducing fine lines and improving skin elasticity and hydration [3, 4].

Causes of Acne While Using Creatine

The most likely contributor to new breakouts while taking creatine supplements is the change in exercise intensity, leading to sweatier workouts and a higher chance of developing clogged pores. 

There has been no conclusive evidence to support any additional link between acne breakouts and creatine supplementation. 

How to Prevent Acne When Taking Creatine

If you are struggling with new acne breakouts while taking creatine supplements, there are a few things you can do to help.

First, it’s important to completely remove any makeup before a workout. While it may make some feel more confident, sweating with a face full of makeup can lead to clogged pores and more breakouts.

This is also true for sunscreen on a hot day. If you workout outside, consider an oil-free sunscreen, or one that states “non-comedogenic” on the label.

Next, be sure to wear clean workout clothes. This is especially helpful if you are someone who struggles with body acne as acne-causing bacteria can thrive on sweaty clothing.

While working out, always wipe down shared equipment before using it, and try to get in a shower immediately post-workout if you can. This can help remove acne-causing bacteria and reduce the chances of a breakout [2].

Are There Other Potential Side Effects of Supplementing With Creatine?

Creatine is one of the most extensively studied performance supplements on the market and it is considered safe for most healthy adults when taken as directed and may even provide additional benefits outside of performance. 

However, like any supplement, it comes with some potential side effects. 

The most common side effects of taking creatine are bloating and an upset stomach. This commonly occurs in those taking a loading phase of creatine which involves taking larger doses for a short period to increase your muscle saturation of creatine. 

These side effects typically go away following the loading phase or can be skipped altogether by sticking with a maintenance dose [5, 6].

Some researchers have raised concerns over creatine supplementation and potential kidney damage. While short-term research has not found any correlation, there is a need for longer-term studies on this [7].

What are the Benefits of Using Creatine?

Creatine helps your muscles form adenosine-triphosphate (ATP), which is our body’s form of energy. This increase in energy allows for improved exercise performance, specifically during high-intensity exercise [8, 9].

Better performance means better gains. Creatine supplementation is also associated with helping to boost muscle growth [10].

Creatine supplements are well-known for their role in improving athletic performance and boosting muscle growth however, they may also provide additional benefits including helping to treat various neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and more [11, 12].

How to Decide if Creatine is Right for Me?

If you want to boost your exercise performance and muscle growth, creatine may be a helpful addition to your routine. However, creatine works best when combined with regular training. Taking creatine alone or with inconsistent exercise will not provide the same results. 

Additionally, creatine will not likely provide benefits to those who already have naturally high levels of creatine in their muscle tissue. While it won’t hurt to take, this means there is a chance it won’t do anything for you. 

Consider your exercise goals and current routine to help you decide if creatine supplementation may be a good fit for you. 

Creatine supplements are considered safe for most healthy adults however, if you are considering taking creatine supplements, be sure to speak with your doctor or healthcare provider before starting.

Creatine Monohydrate vs HCL: Which is Best?

Both creatine monohydrate and HCL are considered equally effective forms of creatine; however, it’s important to note that most research conducted on creatine was done using creatine monohydrate. That makes it the gold standard for creatine as it is a more trusted form.

Creatine HCL is a newer form of creatine that is significantly more soluble than creatine monohydrate which means you can take less and avoid bloating with the same results. While this is an added benefit, creatine HCL is still lacking the research that creatine monohydrate has [13].

In the end, the form of creatine that works best depends on what you are looking for in your supplement.