Does Pre-Workout Cause Acne?

by Nader Qudimat
Updated September 1, 2023

If you've ever wondered whether your pre-workout supplement could be the sneaky culprit behind those unexpected acne breakouts, you're not alone.

Many fitness enthusiasts share this concern, especially given the myriad ingredients packed into these energy-boosting formulas.

From agmatine to citrulline, modern pre-workouts have evolved, but the question remains: Do these ingredients affect your skin?

Spoiler alert: The answer is more reassuring than you might think.

Let's dive into the science and separate fact from fiction.

Does Pre-Workout Cause Acne: Quick Overview

There's no definitive scientific evidence linking pre-workout supplements directly to acne.

However, certain ingredients like caffeine and sugar alcohols in pre-workouts could affect hormone levels, contributing to skin conditions like acne.

The Acne Conundrum: What You Need To Know First

Acne is a skin condition when your pores get clogged with oil, dead skin cells, or dirt.

Various factors can contribute to acne, such as hormonal imbalances, poor sleep, and even your diet.

But what about pre-workout supplements?

Can they be the culprit behind those annoying breakouts?

The Science Behind Acne

Acne is primarily caused by clogged pores, which can become infected by bacteria.

Hormones like testosterone and cortisol can exacerbate the condition.

While the exact cause of acne is still not fully understood, factors like poor sleep, high stress levels, and certain medications are known to contribute.

Pre-Workout And Acne: Is There a Connection?

Contrary to popular belief, no clinical studies directly link pre-workout supplements to acne.

However, the physical effects of working out, such as increased sweat and oil production, can contribute to acne.

What's In Your Pre-Workout?

Common ingredients in pre-workout supplements include caffeine and sugar alcohols like sucralose.

While no studies suggest that these ingredients directly cause acne, they can alter hormone levels, affecting your skin's condition.

The Role Of Caffeine

Caffeine activates the sympathetic nervous system, increasing the stress hormone cortisol.

Elevated cortisol levels can contribute to skin conditions like acne.

Consider switching to a stimulant-free option if you notice more breakouts after using a caffeinated pre-workout.

Sugar Alcohols: Sweet But Risky

Sugar alcohols like sucralose are commonly used to sweeten pre-workouts.

While they don't contain calories, they can alter hormone levels, potentially affecting your skin.

The Ingredients In Pre-Workouts: A Closer Look At Their Impact On Skin

When it comes to pre-workout supplements, the list of ingredients can be extensive, ranging from caffeine and amino acids to various forms of sugar and even artificial sweeteners.

But how do these ingredients interact with your skin?

Let's break it down.

Caffeine: The Energy Booster

Caffeine is a staple in many pre-workout formulas and is known for increasing alertness and improving exercise performance.

While caffeine can elevate cortisol levels, contributing to acne, there's no direct evidence to suggest that the caffeine in pre-workouts will affect your skin negatively.

Agmatine: The Neurotransmitter

Agmatine is a byproduct of the amino acid arginine.

It is primarily used in pre-workouts for its potential to regulate nitric oxide levels, which can improve blood flow during exercise.

As for its impact on the skin, there's no evidence to suggest that agmatine causes acne or other skin issues.

Citrulline: The Blood Flow Enhancer

Citrulline is another amino acid commonly found in pre-workouts.

It's known for improving blood flow and reducing muscle fatigue.

Like agmatine, citrulline has no known direct effects on the skin.

Creatine: The Performance Enhancer

Creatine is another common ingredient found in pre-workout supplements.

It's primarily used to improve strength and increase lean muscle mass.

As far as the skin is concerned, creatine has no known side effects like causing acne or other skin issues.

Sugar And Artificial Sweeteners: The Flavor Factor

Many pre-workouts contain sugar or artificial sweeteners like sucralose to improve taste.

While high sugar intake has been linked to inflammation, which can exacerbate acne, the small amounts found in pre-workouts are unlikely to impact your skin significantly.

Natural Flavors And Colors: The Aesthetic Appeal

Some pre-workouts go the natural route, using plant-based flavors and colors.

These natural additives are considered safe and have no known impact on the skin.

The Verdict: No Direct Impact On Skin

After examining the common ingredients found in pre-workout supplements, it's clear that none of these components directly impact the skin.

While individual reactions can vary, the consensus is that pre-workouts are unlikely to be the culprit behind your acne or other skin issues.

The Safest Pre-Workouts For Your Skin

If you're concerned about acne, opt for pre-workouts with fewer ingredients and no additives.

Brands like Bulk Black offer naturally flavored and sweetened options.

For more choices, you can check out lists of the strongestmost natural, and safest pre-workouts.

Who Should Use Pre-Workout?

Pre-workout supplements are generally safe for most people, especially those who are physically active and have no underlying health conditions.

Who Should Avoid Pre-Workout?

Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as heart issues or high blood pressure, should consult a healthcare provider before using pre-workout supplements.

Side Effects And Interactions

High doses of certain ingredients like niacin and beta-alanine can cause skin flushing and tingling.

Always check the label and consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

For more on this, check out what is stim in pre-workout.

Exploring Specific Concerns: Pre-Workout And Your Health

While pre-workout supplements can offer a range of benefits, it's crucial to be aware of specific health concerns that may arise.

If you're experiencing unusual symptoms, these resources can shed light on possible connections to your pre-workout regimen:

By being informed, you can make better choices about whether pre-workout supplements are right for you and how to use them responsibly.


Does pre-workout cause acne?

No, no conclusive evidence suggests that pre-workout supplements directly cause acne. However, some ingredients may indirectly contribute to skin issues.

Is caffeine in pre-workout bad for my skin?

Caffeine can increase cortisol levels, which may contribute to acne, but it's not a direct cause.

What ingredients should I avoid in pre-workout if I have acne-prone skin?

Look out for high sugar content and artificial sweeteners, as they can potentially affect hormone levels.

Can I use pre-workout if I have sensitive skin?

Yes, but opt for products with fewer ingredients and no additives to minimize the risk of skin irritation.

How can I prevent acne breakouts after working out?

Maintain good hygiene, remove sweaty gym clothes immediately, and shower after your workout.

Are natural pre-workouts better for my skin?

Natural pre-workouts often contain fewer additives, which could benefit sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Do non-stimulant pre-workouts cause acne?

There's no evidence to suggest that non-stimulant pre-workouts cause acne. However, individual reactions can vary.

Should I stop using pre-workout if I start breaking out?

If you notice a correlation between using pre-workout and acne flare-ups, it may be worth pausing your use of the supplement and consulting a healthcare provider.

How do I choose a pre-workout that's safe for my skin?

Opt for naturally flavored and sweetened pre-workouts, and always check the ingredient list for potential irritants.

Can hydration levels affect acne when using pre-workout?

Dehydration can exacerbate skin conditions, including acne. Since some pre-workouts are diuretics, staying hydrated is crucial.

The Bottom Line

While no concrete evidence links pre-workout supplements to acne, individual ingredients like caffeine and sugar alcohols could potentially affect your skin.

Opt for natural, additive-free options if you're concerned about breakouts.

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

Search This Site

About FitFrek

FitFrek operates as an independent platform, offering comprehensive workouts, programs, routines, guides, and unbiased reviews to accelerate your progress. We pride ourselves on our honesty, delivering straightforward and candid insights. FitFrek does not offer medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment services.

FitFrek © 2013 – 2024 All Rights Reserved
Exclusive Site of Nader Qudimat
magnifiercrossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram