If you’re a fitness fan, you might already know that most protein powders are a big no-no when it comes to acne-prone skin. Alternatively, you might have stumbled upon this article because you’re trying to find out whether or not your current breakout is being caused by your powder supplement. So, does protein powder cause acne?
Unfortunately, some protein powders are notorious for triggering acne breakouts.
Some protein powders can cause acne because they’re formulated with whey, and whey contains milk proteins. Milk proteins are known to be inflammatory for those of us prone to food-related breakouts (aka, most acne sufferers.) In addition to this, whey has been proven to increase the body’s insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which in turn boosts the hormones that produce testosterone and can potentially trigger nasty acne breakouts.
So, if you still want to go hard in the gym with the help of a supplement, what’s the best protein powder for acne?
Protein Powders for Acne: All You Need To Know
If you have acne-prone skin and you’re either using or planning to use protein powders, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about buying an acne-friendly powder supplement. Once I’ve explained what to look out for, I’ve selected 7 of the best protein powders for acne (plant-based, animal-based, budget-friendly and more) for you to take a look at. But first – what’s an acne-friendly protein powder?
Put simply, there are three types of protein powder on the market. Only one of these is truly acne-friendly:
1. Whey protein-based powders
Protein-based powders are typically formulated with whey (casein) and are notorious for causing breakouts and even provoking an increase in IGF-1, leading to nasty hormonal breakouts. In addition, many cheap protein powders are flavored with sugars and artificial sweeteners which are terrible at keeping your insulin levels (and therefore your acne) in check.
When it comes to acne-friendly protein powders, I’d give whey protein powders a 1/5 .
2. Plant-based powder (typically pea protein)
Another popular type of protein powder is a plant-based powder; this is typically popular with vegans and those following meat-free or dairy-free diets. However, is it acne friendly? Not entirely. The problem with recommending plant-based powders for acne sufferers is that not everyone’s skin can handle the pea protein, which is typically used in most formulas.
Despite its shortcomings, plant-based protein powder is much better than whey protein and so on the acne-friendly scale I’d give it a 5/10. It’s also a great option if you can’t use animal protein, which I’ll come onto next.
3. Animal-based powder (typically gelatin or collagen-based)
The only truly acne-friendly protein powder that you can find on the market in 2022 is animal-based protein powder. Animal-based protein powders will typically use gelatin or collagen in their formulas, which isn’t going to inflame your acne or cause an increase in your IGF-1.
If you want to truly be assured that the ingredients in your protein powder aren’t going to inflame or trigger an acne breakout, the key is to go with animal-based powders. Don’t forget that you also need to ensure that your powder is free of artificial sugars, sweeteners, and additives in order to be truly acne-friendly.
However, if you’re a vegan or you refrain from using animal-based products on moral grounds, your second best option is a plant-based protein powder.
So, that pretty much sums up the basics when it comes to acne-friendly protein powders. Animal-based and plant-based powders should always be prioritized over whey proteins (casein), and you’ll need to make sure that you’re not ingesting artificial flavorings or sweeteners. You should always check the ingredients label on any protein powder, but especially those that come with artificial flavorings like chocolate or vanilla.
Now – I understand that a lot of what I’m talking about in this post is pretty technical. So, to make things easier, I decided to create a comprehensive list of the best protein powders for acne-prone skin. Each product was personally selected by me and is 100% acne-friendly – I’ve scoured the ingredients lists so you don’t have to. Whether you’re looking for a vegan-friendly option or something cheap, you’ll find a recommendation for you on this list.
Table of Contents
How I Reviewed Each Protein Powder
As I put together this list, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going for a “one-size-fits-all” type recommendation list. While I personally prefer animal-based protein powders when I’m trying to up my efforts at the gym, I’m aware that many of my readers follow vegan or vegetarian diets. So, I’ve listed various categories and given appropriate recommendations accordingly.
I’ve also reviewed each protein powder according to what I consider to be the most important metrics for someone dealing with acne and not wishing to aggravate it further:
- Does the protein powder contain any ingredients known to aggravate acne or acne-prone skin (coffee, phytic acid, lectins, etc)
- Does the protein powder contain artificial sweeteners?
- Is the protein powder laden with sugar or artificial flavorings?
- Is the protein powder easy to buy and budget-friendly?
Based on the above criteria and my own personal experiences trying these protein powders for myself, I’m recommending what I’ve found to be the best protein powders for acne that you can buy in 2022. I’ve scoured ingredients lists from old tubs sitting in my cupboard, read certified reviews from buyers and analyzed each and every product in comparison with one another so that you can make a confident purchase.
So, whether you’re on a budget, a vegan or simply want the best overall acne-friendly protein powder, I’ve put all the top options below.
Best Protein Powders for Acne Summary
|Best||Protein Powder for Acne|
|Overall||Bub’s Naturals – Fountain of Youth|
|Dairy-Free||Ancient Nutrition – Vanilla Bone Broth Protein Powder|
|On a Budget||PlantVital – Plant Based Chocolate Protein Powder|
|Plant-Based Protein Powder||Garden of Life – Organic Vegan Sport Protein Powder, Vanilla – Probiotics|
|Collagen Protein Powder||Earth Echo’s Collagen Peptides|
|Pea Protein||Naked Life – Pea Protein Isolate from North American Farms|
|Protein Bar||Larabar – Blueberry Muffin Protein Bar (Gluten Free)|
BUBS Naturals – Fountain of Youth Collagen Protein Powder
This animal-based protein powder combines collagen with additional ingredients that provide the body with protein while supporting the skin, hair, nails, joints, and immune system.
Formula features animal-based collagen peptides, which are ideal for acne-prone complexions and offer skin, hair, nail, and joint benefits
Potent Vitamin C Concentration
Vitamin C supports the immune system while encouraging collagen production and providing antioxidant benefits for healthy, youthful skin
Contains Vitamin B5
Powder contains pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), which helps keep blemishes at bay
Non-GMO, Dairy-Free, and Gluten-Free
High-quality formula is made without dairy (which can trigger acne), and is also free of GMOs and gluten
Tapioca Starch, Natural Flavors, Organic Stevia Leaf Extract, Silicon Dioxide. Contains: Coconut
My top recommendation is the Bub’s Naturals Fountain of Youth. What makes this animal-based formula particularly great for acne-prone skin is that it contains a range of ingredients that support a clear, healthy complexion. It’s also dairy-free, which greatly reduces the risk of it triggering breakouts.
This collagen-based protein powder contains 10 grams of bovine collagen peptides, which offer a range of health and beauty benefits. These peptides support strong nails and healthy hair, and can also promote a more youthful complexion. Beyond that, collagen is great for supporting joint health.
Additionally, this formula contains a potent 1000 milligram concentration of vitamin C. In addition to supporting the immune system, vitamin C supplements help counteract the effects of damaging free radicals (which can lead to signs of aging), and stimulates the natural production of collagen – which is key to maintaining a youthful complexion.
This powder also contains 10 milligrams of pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5. While research is still in its early stages, it is believed that vitamin B5 supplements may help reduce blemishes in those prone to mild to moderate acne. Another ingredient worth highlighting is MCT oil, an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial ingredient that may help improve energy levels and support athletic performance.
I use this powder on a daily basis in the morning, and I’ve found that it easily mixes into many different liquids, such as water and smoothies. Keep in mind that the company recommends avoiding mixing the powder into hot liquids, as this can compromise the vitamin C.
Note that this powder is sweetened with stevia leaf extract, which is a sugar alternative. The subject of the link between acne and stevia is controversial, but I’ve actually written about the benefits of stevia for acne-prone skin. That said, if you know your skin is sensitive to stevia, this may not be the best choice for you.
Best Dairy-Free Protein Powder For Acne:
Ancient Nutrition – Vanilla Bone Broth Protein Powder
This is one of the top dairy-free animal-based protein powders for acne-prone skin, as it is packed with collagen and nutrients that support healthy and clear skin while improving joint, nails, and hair health.
Supports Gut Health & Digestion
Bone broth help promote growth of healthy probiotics & gut bacteria.
Made With Clean Ingredients
Anceint Nutrition’s bone broth protein powder is sourced with clean, cage-freem non-GMO ingredients.
Good Source of Protein
Ancient Nutrition’s bone broth is packed with 20 grams of protein per serving. This is perfect for a post workout protein shake.
Dairy is one of the most common acne triggers in the world. Whey protein’s popularity is one of the primary reasons protein powder is associated with acne. Anceint Nutrition’s bone broth is dairy free which greatly reduces the chance of a breakout.
Natural vanilla flavor, xanthan gum, guar gum, stevia leaf extract, luo han guo fruit extract.
As noted, dairy-based protein powders aren’t ideal for acne-prone skin, as they can trigger breakouts. One of my favorite dairy-free formulas on the market is the Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth. While it doesn’t contain dairy, it is still an animal-based protein powder that is well-suited for acne-prone skin. This truly is a great alternative to whey proteins and plant-based powders and gives a great nutritional kick to boost.
This powder provides an impressive 20 grams of protein, which comes from the chicken bone broth concentrate. The concentrate contains collagen type II for skin, hair, nail, and joint support. It also contains glucosamine, which has proven to be beneficial for the skin in helping reduce hyperpigmentation and increase hydration. It also offers wound healing benefits to boot. Additionally, the concentrate features hyaluronic acid, which further helps improve skin and body hydration levels.
I’ve found that this powder easily mixes into both warm and cold liquids, including water, coffee, and protein shakes. I also like that it comes in two different sizes, so you can purchase what works best for your needs.
Like the Bub’s Naturals powder, this formula does contain stevia. However, this shouldn’t cause issues for those that don’t have sensitivities to this sweetener.
Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Pros:
- Dairy-free, soy-free, and paleo-friendly
- Contains hyaluronic acid, collagen peptides, and glucosamine
Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Cons:
- Not suitable for vegans, or those who refrain from using or consuming animal products
- Contains stevia – if your skin is super sensitive to artificial sweeteners, you might not want to use this powder
Best Protein Powder on a Budget For Acne:
PlantVital – Plant Based Chocolate Protein Powder
PlantVital’s protein powder is a plant based protein powder that can be mixed with any liquid. PlantVital contains all the necessary daily antioxidants and is GMO-free. Additionally, PlantVital’s protein powder is sugar free which is perfect for keeping insulin levels in check and preventing acne spikes.
PlantVital’s protein powder is completely vegan. It made up of 18 differennt fruits, vegetables, superfoods, and probiotics.
100% Organic Ingredients
PlantVital’s protein powder is certified 100% organic by the USDA.
PlantVital’s protein poweder formula is absent of glutent and can be used as part of a strict paleo diet/
Essential Amino Acids
PlantVital contains 9 different essential amino acids in order to promote muscle growth and aid joint repair.
Organic pumpkin seed protein, organic chia seed protein, organic pea protein, organic brown rice protein, organic apple, organic kale, organic broccoli, organic spinach, organic carrot, organic parsley, organic beet, organic green cabbage, organic blueberry, organic raspberry, organic strawberry, organic tomato, organic spirulina, organic cacao, organic monk fruit, organic rice husk & 1 billion CFU probiotics.
If you’re looking for an acne-friendly protein powder, you might find yourself slightly limited when it comes to truly budget-friendly options.
Or so I thought! A friend recently recommended to me Plant Vital’s Plant Based Protein Powder when I was traveling and didn’t want to invest in my usual supplements on the road. While I was initially skeptical about the low price, it was so good that I actually ended up taking it home and using it for a few weeks instead of my regular. Not only was it sugar free and stevia free, it was also completely unflavored – no strange aftertaste! Yay!
While I personally prefer my regular Bone Broth by Ancient Nutrition, Plant Vitals is great if you want to get started with something cheap that still contains a fair amount of nutrients. While it’s not as nutrient-rich as some of the other powders I’ve recommended, it’s formulated with vegan-friendly pea proteins and lots of green antioxidants, and great for the price.
Plant Vital’s Plant Based Protein Powder: PROS
- Lots of greens and antioxidants, great for tackling skin inflammation
- Great price if you’re a student or on a budget
- Non-GMO and 100% natural – no strange additives or sweeteners that might trigger a breakout
- 100% sugar free, so no insulin increase after use
Plant Vital’s Plant Based Protein Powder: CONS
- Unflavored – I tested the unflavored option, so if you have a hard time drinking protein powders in general, you might struggle with this one and might prefer to mix it in with something like a juice or smoothie. There is also a chocolate version available if you really can’t stomach the natural version.
- Not as nutrient-rich as the other protein powders I’ve recommended in this list
Best Plant-Based Protein Powder For Acne:
Garden of Life – Organic Vegan Sport Protein Powder, Vanilla – Probiotics
Garden of Life’s protein powder contains absolutely zero animal byproducts – no honey, no eggs, no dairy proteins. It’s also 100% cruelty-free, with zero animal testing being part of their production process.
Garden of Life uses 100% Organic Ingredients
100% Certified Organic by the USDA
Made Wth Real Fruits & Vegetables
Garden of Life uses organic tumeric, cherries, apples, blueberries, and gogi berries to deliver a tasty and antioxidant packed protein shake
Absolutely 0 soy, gluten, or added sugars
Good Source of Protein
30 Grams of Protein Per Serving
Organic Protein Blend: Organic Pea Protein, Organic Sprouted Brown Rice Protein, Organic Amaranth Sprout, Organic Buckwheat Sprout, Organic Millet Sprout, Organic Cracked Wall Chlorella, Organic Quinoa Sprout, Organic Chia Seed Sprout, Organic Garbanzo Bean Sprout, Organic Lentil Sprout, Organic Adzuki Bean Sprout, Organic Flax Seed Sprout, Organic Sunflower Seed Sprout, Organic Pumpkin Seed Sprout, Organic Sesame Seed Sprout, Organic Flavor Blend: (Organic Vanilla Flavors, Organic Erythritol, Organic Stevia Extract (Leaf), Sea Salt), Organic Guar Gum, Organic Carob Bean Gum, Probiotic & Enzyme Blend: Lipase, Protease, Aspergillopepsin, Beta-Glucanase, Cellulase, Bromelain, Phytase, Lactase, Papain, Peptidase, Pectinase, Hemicellulase, Xylanase, [Lactobacillus Acidophilus La-14, Lactobacillus Plantarum Lp-115, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus Lb-87] (3 Billion CFU).
If you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just prefer to refrain from animal products for ethical reasons, you can still use a great acne-friendly protein powder. For our vegan and vegetarian readers, I’d recommend Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder by Garden of Life. This protein powder is extremely antioxidant-rich, featuring a mix of organic tart cherries, organic apples, organic turmeric, organic goji berries, and organic blueberries.
Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder by Garden of Life: PROS
- Dairy free and soy free
- Gluten free, so it’s suitable for those with gluten allergies
- Vegan-friendly, with no animal byproducts used whatsoever
- Antioxidant-rich, great for keeping skin inflammation low
Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder by Garden of Life: CONS
- High fiber: this protein powder reports quite a high fiber content, so it might not be ideal if you suffer from IBS or other digestive or gut health issues. If you’re able to consume animal products, you might prefer to stick with an animal-based powder.
- Taste: because this powder isn’t artificially sweetened, you might find it a bit hard to swallow (literally.)
Best Collagen Protein Powder For Acne:
Earth Echo’s Collagen Peptides
Earth Echo’s protein powder is that it also helps stabilize blood sugar: so it’s not just acne-friendly, but acne-fighting. I’d recommend this if you’re looking for an all-rounder protein powder for skin and health, not just something for the gym or muscle-building.
Top Source of pure Collagen
Collagen is the ideal protein for anyone with joint pain or those looking to promote hair, nail, and skin growth.
Completely free of soy, gluten, artifical sweetners, corn, dairy, BSE, and TSE
No added sugars
Collagen peptides contain no sugars and are flavorless. This makes it the ideal protein powder for anyone trying to manage their blood sugar levels.
Low Calorie Protein Powder
Earth Echo’s collagen protein powder only contains 70 calories per serving. This makes it a great chocie for those who are not looking to get “bulky”
If you’re looking for a collagen-based protein powder for acne-prone skin, I highly recommend Collagen Peptides by Earth Echo Foods. This protein powder contains zero artificial flavoring, is 100% dairy free and gluten-free and contains 17g of clean protein in every serving. Because it’s made with collagen peptides, it also comes with a range of beauty benefits, including healthy hair, strong nails and more youthful skin. When using this powder, I did notice that my acne scars seemed less prominent and my skin a lot brighter than usual, but I’ll need to keep using it to see if these results continue.
One thing I love about
Collagen Peptides by Earth Echo Foods: PROS
- Dairy-free and soy-free
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels, preventing any insulin increases
- Offers beauty and skin benefits
Collagen Peptides by Earth Echo Foods: CONS
- Doesn’t contain as many antioxidants as the Plant Vitals or Garden of Life protein powder
- One of my more expensive recommendations, although there is a Subscribe and Save option
Best Pea Protein For Acne:
Naked Life – Pea Protein Isolate from North American Farms
This powder is made up of just one ingredient: pea protein. So, if you’re on the fence about trying a plant-based protein powder and you want to see how your skin reacts when taking it, this is the powder to try. In addition to being completely free of any extra ingredients, it’s also non-GMO, gluten free and sweetener-free.
Good Source of Protein
27 Grams of Protein Per Serving
Naked Life’s protein powder is 100% certified vegan by the USDA.
Essential Amino Acids
Contains 5.7 grams of BCAA (branch chain amino acids).
Pea isolate is 100% gluten free
rice protein, pea protein, and organic maltodextrin
If you’re not keen on animal-based protein powders, this Naked Pea protein powder is a great alternative. While my skin can’t really handle pea protein, it’s really just a question of luck – if you want to stick to plant-based powders in the future, I’d highly recommend first trying out this and seeing how your skin reacts to the protein.
Naked Pea Protein Powder: PROS
- Great for testing out if your skin can handle pea protein (and therefore most other plant-based protein powders)
- Vegan-friendly and non-GMO
- 100% dairy free and soy free
- No lactose
Naked Pea Protein Powder: CONS
- Just one ingredient – you might find it ineffective if you’re looking for an all-rounder product such as the Collagen Peptides.
- If you have acne-prone skin, your skin might be unable to tolerate the protein
Best Protein Bar For Acne:
Larabar – Blueberry Muffin Protein Bar (Gluten Free)
Blueberry muffin Larabars are made with just 6 natural ingredients, so you’re not dealing with a long list of artificial sugars or sweeteners. My favorite has to be the blueberry muffin flavor, but you can pick from plenty of variations. Again, NO peanut or peanut butter flavors.
Larabars are free of gluten, dairy, and soy.
Larabars do not need to be mixed in any type of liquid or refrigerated. They can be eaten as a healthy snack on the go.
Larabars are 100% vegan and do not contain any animal byproducts.
Blueberry muffin Larabars do not contain any nuts, which make it the ideal snack for anyone with a nut allergy.
CASHEWS, DATES, APPLES, BLUEBERRIES, VANILLA EXTRACT.
Picking acne-friendly protein bars can be a real challenge, as so many of them are marketed to appeal to your taste buds, not your skincare routine or actual health. Whatever you do when choosing a protein bar, AVOID those with peanuts or peanut-butter-based protein bars. Just, trust me on this one.
My pick for the best acne-friendly protein bar has to be Larabars.
- Each bar comes with just 6 ingredients, so you don’t need to worry about ingesting strange additives or artificial sugars
- Vegan-friendly and gluten-free
- Lots of flavors – great if you have allergies or certain food intolerances
- Dairy-free, so no need to worry about hidden milk proteins
- Taste can be quite particular – it might take you a moment to get used to it
- A little on the pricey side
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, whey protein can trigger acne breakouts due to its IGF-1 factor.
Just because a protein is plant-based does not mean it is necessarily “good for acne.” You need to look at all the ingredients to make a decision if a protein powder will trigger any type of inflammation in the skin. However, plant-based proteins typically do not contain dairy, which is the primary acne trigger in most protein powders.
1 thought on “7 Best Protein Powders for Acne”
Can we have an updated list for protein bars suitable for acne prone skin? I cannot access the Larabar on Amazon from UK.