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Is Spirulina Good for Acne-Prone Skin?

Some acne sufferers swear by spirulina algae as a natural cure for pimples and oily skin, whether taken orally in the form of powder or tablets, or applied directly on the skin. However, science has yet to prove – or disprove – claims that spirulina supplements or face masks can help fight acne. As scientific studies on the effects of spirulina algae on acne-prone skin are lacking, we cannot provide an overview of studies investigating the benefits of spirulina for acne sufferers in this article. Therefore, we will simply be looking at some aspects of spirulina that might make it a good natural remedy for acne, at least in theory.

Spirulina, Anti-Inflammatory Fatty Acids and Acne

While not a particularly fatty food (it contains only about 5 percent fat), dried spirulina contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in an attractive ratio of about 1 to 1.6. Most Western diets have an omega 3 to 6 ratio of about 1 to 16, and most experts agree that the amount of omega-6 fatty acids in modern diets is way too high and may contribute to a number of health problems due to their inflammatory properties. Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, have anti-inflammatory effects, and they have been associated with a number of health benefits, including prevention of acne breakouts.

A 10-week randomized, controlled parallel intervention study published in the September 2014 issue of Acta Dermato-Venereologica found that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acid or gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) significantly reduced acne lesions in people with inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne. This study involved 45 acne sufferers who are were allocated to either an omega-3 fatty acid group, a GLA group, or a control group.

Interestingly, spirulina has also been singled out as a good natural source of GLA, along with a few other supplements and foods such as evening primrose oil, hemp seeds and borage seed oil. Although GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid, it appears to exert anti-inflammatory, rather than pro-inflammatory, effects in the body, which might further explain why there are so many anecdotal reports suggesting that spirulina is good for acne-prone skin. However, before actual clinical trials are carried out, we won't know for sure whether the fatty acids composition of spirulina actually has any benefits for the skin.

What About the Other Nutrients in Spirulina?

Anti-inflammatory fatty acids aside, spirulina also contains a number of other compounds that some people believe may contribute to its potential, but unproven, benefits for acne-prone skin. These compounds include, but are not limited to, chlorophyll, carotenoids and B complex vitamins. Unfortunately, however, there is not sufficient scientific evidence to make credible claims about whether these compounds, or any other bioactive substances found in spirulina, can actually help prevent acne breakouts.

The Bottom Line

Until large clinical trials are conducted to specifically investigate the effects of spirulina supplements in acne sufferers, we cannot say for sure whether spirulina supplements are good for acne sufferers or not. In fact, it is possible that spirulina may actually cause acne, rather than cure it, although the abundance of anecdotal reports linking spirulina supplements to improved skin tone suggests that this is unlikely.

So, the bottom line is, if you suffer from acne, why not give spirulina a try? There's not much to lose. But before you start supplementing your diet with spirulina, or any other supplement for that matter, talk to a qualified health care professional first. What's more, while spirulina use appears to be safe and have few side effects in most people, adverse reactions are always possible, so stick to the recommended doses, and stop using spirulina if you experience any adverse reactions or side effects.

Spirulina and Acne

Where to Buy Spirulina Seaweed?

Spirulina products are widely available in health food stores and other stores that sell dietary supplements, but you can also buy them conveniently online. The online retailer Amazon, for example, sells a wide variety of spirulina products, ranging from powdered U.S.-grown spirulina to spirulina tablets manufactured in Asia. If you live in the US, check out spirulina products on Amazon.com. If you live in the UK, check out the spirulina products on Amazon.co.uk.


1. Fineli Food Composition Database, Release 16, provided by the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (2015).
2. E. Spencer, H. Ferdownsian and N. Barnard (2009). Diet and acne: a review of the evidence. International Journal of Dermatology, volume 48, issue 4, pages 339-347.
3. K. Stone et al (1979). The metabolism of dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid in man. Lipids, 14 (2): 174-80.

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