Does Pre Workout Cause Acne? How to Prevent it!

Medically reviewed by Dr Dimitar Marinov
Does Pre Workout Cause Acne? How to Prevent it!

You’re committed to maintaining your health and physique as a dedicated fitness enthusiast. But could your pre-workout supplements, designed to supercharge your workouts and recovery, be also powering up your acne breakouts? It’s a question that’s been buzzing in the fitness community: Does pre-workout cause acne?

In this blog post, we will delve into this topic, examining if the energising ingredients in your pre-workout can potentially aggravate your skin. Let’s unravel this fitness mystery together.

Is It Possible for Pre Workout to Cause Acne?

The answer isn’t as straightforward as we’d all like. The truth is, it depends. Everybody is unique and reacts differently to various ingredients found in pre-workout supplements. While some people might experience breakouts, others may not see any change in their skin at all.

What Are Some Pre Workout Ingredients That May Trigger Acne Breakouts?

While there is no definitive list of pre workout ingredients that cause acne, there are a few common ones that may contribute to breakouts in some individuals. Here’s a closer look at these ingredients:


Many pre-workout supplements contain caffeine, a stimulant known for boosting energy levels. However, caffeine may also increase cortisol production, which can lead to increased production of oil on the skin. This excess oil can clog pores, leading to breakouts and potentially triggering acne flare-ups (1).


Much like sugary foods, high sugar intake from pre-workouts can lead to increased IGF-1 levels, which in turn can trigger acne (2). While not all pre-workouts contain sugar, those that do might contribute to breakouts.

Branched-chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs are often included in pre-workout supplements for their muscle-building benefits. However, research suggests they may also contribute to acne by stimulating mTOR and the production of IGF-1 (3). This could be particularly problematic for those with already oily or acne-prone skin.

Whey Protein

Some pre-workouts contain whey protein, which can stimulate the body’s production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Higher levels of IGF-1 can lead to increased sebum production and potentially more breakouts. It’s also worth noting that taking pre-workouts with a high concentration of whey protein can lead to dehydrated skin, which can exacerbate acne conditions.”

Other Factors That Can Make Acne Worse

While the impact of pre-workout ingredients on acne is still up for debate, there are some gym-related habits that can undoubtedly exacerbate skin issues, particularly for those with acne-prone skin.


For acne sufferers, applying heavy makeup before hitting the gym can clog pores. As you sweat, these clogs can worsen, potentially leading to breakouts.

During Workout

Excessive sweating can mix with oils and bacteria on your skin, leading to clogged pores. This is especially problematic for those with acne-prone skin. If you frequently touch your face during a workout, this can also transfer additional oil, dirt, and bacteria, potentially triggering acne.


After an intense workout, it’s crucial for acne sufferers to first wash their hands and then their faces to remove sweat, oil, and bacteria. Failing to do so can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. Furthermore, taking too hot showers post-workout can strip your skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation, which can exacerbate acne.

What Are Some Tips for Helping Prevent Acne While Taking Pre Workout?

1. Stay Hydrated

Keep your water bottle handy and sip regularly throughout your workout. Staying hydrated can help flush toxins out of your body, reducing the chance of breakouts.

2. Cleanse Your Face

It’s essential to wash your face both before and after your workout. This helps get rid of sweat, dirt, and oil that can clog pores and lead to acne.

3. Avoid Touching Your Face

Our hands carry a lot of bacteria. Try to keep them away from your face as much as possible during your workout to avoid transferring dirt and germs.

4. Use Non-comedogenic Products

Opt for skincare products labelled ‘non-comedogenic’. These are designed not to clog pores, reducing the risk of acne.

5. Choose the Right Pre-Workout

If you notice breakouts after starting a new pre-workout supplement, consider switching to a different brand or formula. Everyone’s skin reacts differently, and finding a product that doesn’t exacerbate your acne might take some trial and error.

6. Wear Breathable Clothing

Choose workout gear made from breathable materials to allow sweat to evaporate instead of sitting on your skin.

7. Change Out of Sweaty Clothes ASAP

After your workout, change out of your sweaty clothes as soon as possible. The damp environment can breed bacteria and cause irritation, potentially leading to breakouts.

8. Eat a Balanced, Low Glycemic Load Diet

While it might be tempting to load up on protein for muscle gain, remember that a balanced diet is crucial for skin health. Consider incorporating natural alternatives into your diet, such as foods with a low glycemic load. These include fruits like bananas, mangoes, papayas, vegetables, beans, low-fat dairy, berries, and whole grains.

A low glycemic load diet can help manage blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation, which can help prevent acne.

9. Consult a Dermatologist

If you’re struggling with persistent acne, it might be worth consulting a dermatologist. They can provide personalised advice and treatment options to help manage your skin concerns.

Can Taking a Pre Workout Supplement Cause Acne? Our Final Wrap Up

While some ingredients in pre workout supplements, like caffeine, may contribute to acne, they are not the sole cause. Acne is a complex condition influenced by many factors, including diet, stress, hormones, and skincare habits.

Remember, everyone’s skin reacts differently. If you’re experiencing breakouts after starting a new pre workout, consider speaking with a dermatologist or nutritionist to help pinpoint potential triggers and develop a plan to manage your acne.

In the end, the benefits of pre workout supplements for your fitness goals often outweigh the minor risk of triggering acne. With good hygiene habits and proper skincare, you can enjoy the energy boost from your pre workout while keeping your skin clear and healthy.


  1. Rao A, Douglas SC, Hall JM. Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Hormone Receptors, and Acne Vulgaris: A Connecting Hypothesis. Cells. 2021 Jun 9;10(6):1439. doi: 10.3390/cells10061439. PMID: 34207527; PMCID: PMC8228950.
  2. Melnik BC, John SM, Schmitz G. Over-stimulation of insulin/IGF-1 signaling by western diet may promote diseases of civilization: lessons learnt from laron syndrome. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011 Jun 24;8:41. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-41. PMID: 21699736; PMCID: PMC3141390.
  3. Norton, L. E., & Layman, D. K. (2006). Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. The Journal of nutrition, 136(2), 533S–537S.

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