Can Selenium Help Clear Acne Breakouts?

Most people begin buying different topical skin care products to reduce their acne breakouts. However, improving your diet will typically yield better long-term results. Many people are shocked to learn that eating sugary processed foods and nutritional deficiencies are the trigger for the majority of acne breakouts. In this post, we are going to investigate the effectiveness of Selenium for acne based on several scientific publications and our own self-experimentation with the antioxidant.

Let’s jump right in and explore how you can take advantage of this natural element to get your skin looking better than ever before.

What Is Selenium?

Selenium is a naturally-occurring element that has a grayish color. It is classified as semimetal and is considered to be a “rare” mineral. But despite its scarce availability, it’s used in various industries due to its unique properties.

The main purpose of selenium in the body is to act as an antioxidant. This means it helps protect cells from damage caused by harmful agents known as free radicals. These are unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress, which has been linked to the development of various chronic diseases.

Foods High in Selenium

Apart from the Earth’s crust, selenium can also be found in various food sources. Generally, being vegan or vegetarian may put you at risk of selenium deficiency, as animal-based foods tend to be richer in this mineral. Some of the best food sources of this mineral include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Oysters
  • Tuna and shrimp 
  • Mushrooms
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese

If your consumption of these foods is insufficient, then you may want to consider taking a selenium supplement. The greater your intake, the higher your antioxidant activity will be. Just remember not to go overboard, as selenium toxicity can lead to some serious health problems.

What Are the Signs of Selenium Deficiency?

If your diet is lacking in selenium-rich foods, then you may be at risk of selenium deficiency. This condition is relatively rare but can lead to some concerning health issues if left untreated. The main symptoms to look out for include:

  • Brain Fog
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Fragile Hair
  • Dull Skin
  • Weight Gain

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, then it’s important to speak to a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Taking precautions to increase your intake of selenium-rich foods or supplements may alleviate any inconveniences.

Selenium & Acne

So, how exactly does selenium play a role in chronic inflammation of acne? Does it help clear blemishes and restore the skin’s natural balance? The answer is a resounding yes – it can actually be quite effective in treating this skin condition thanks to its antioxidant properties.

Selenium for Hormonal Acne

One of the main causes of hormonal acne is an imbalance in androgen levels. Androgens are a group of hormones that play a vital role in developing male characteristics. They’re also present in women, albeit in much smaller amounts.

The way in which androgens affect the skin is by stimulating the production of sebum. This is an oily substance that helps keep the skin moisturized and protected. However, too much sebum can lead to clogged pores and the formation of pimples.

Fortunately, selenium can reduce sebum production and promote hormone balance. A number of skincare products are designed to induce detoxification and combat hormonal acne, such as ClearWithin’s natural hormonal acne supplement.

Selenium Sulfide for Fungal Acne

A specific subtype of acne known as fungal acne is caused by an overgrowth of yeast on the skin. This condition is also known as pityrosporum folliculitis or malassezia folliculitis.

This condition can be difficult to treat as it’s often mistaken for other types of acne, such as hormonal ones, mainly because the symptoms are so similar. However, the fungal variant largely occurs on your upper back, shoulders, and chest – areas that are typically not affected by hormonal acne.

Fungal acne can be treated with several antifungal agents, one of which is selenium sulfide. This substance can reduce the growth of yeast on the skin and is often found in dandruff shampoo. The Neutrogena Body Clear acne wash with pink grapefruit can also be used to treat fungal acne.

Can Selenium Make Acne Worse?

While selenium is generally considered to be beneficial for the skin, too much of this mineral may cause some negative side effects. In fact, chronic selenium toxicity may cause a number of issues, such as nausea, fever, and even diabetes or skin cancer.

Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of your selenium intake and stick to the recommended dose, whether orally or topically. If you’re unsure how much selenium is safe for you to consume, then it’s always best to speak to a healthcare professional.

Selenium Benefits for the Skin

The major ways in which selenium can influence the overall appearance and health of your skin boils down to two main characteristics:

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Fighting off inflammation is vital for maintaining healthy skin. This is because chronic conditions can lead to many concerns, such as premature aging, wrinkles, and even skin cancer.

Selenium has the power to fight inflammation both internally and externally. When taken orally, it can reduce the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body, which are proteins that promote inflammation.

When applied topically, selenium may also soothe inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. This is because selenium can modulate the activity of inflammatory enzymes, such as COX-2 and 5-LOX.

Restorative Properties

Not only does selenium help to protect the skin from damage, but it also plays a role in repairing any existing signs of damage. It works by supporting the production of new skin cells and boosting collagen synthesis – two key processes that are essential for maintaining youthful, radiant skin.

What’s more, selenium can also defend the skin against UV damage. This is because selenium helps to increase the levels of glutathione in the body – a powerful antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals.

Selenium for Thyroid Health

In addition to its benefits for the skin, selenium is also essential for thyroid health. This butterfly-shaped gland is located in your neck and produces hormones that regulate your metabolism. The main hormone produced by the thyroid is thyroxine, also known as T4. It helps control your heart rate, body temperature, and weight.

Selenium plays an important role in the production of T4 – without this mineral, the thyroid wouldn’t be able to function properly. In fact, selenium deficiency has been linked to a number of thyroid conditions, such as Grave’s disease and Hashimoto’s disease. Both of these conditions can lead to an enlargement of the thyroid, known as goiter.

Best Selenium Supplementation

If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of selenium for your skin as well as your overall health, then there are a few different ways that you can get more of this mineral in your diet.

One option is to eat foods rich in selenium, which is a natural way to increase your intake but may prove insufficient if your existing levels are super low. Your other option would be to implement acne supplements into your diet. This form of supplementation is often more effective in raising selenium levels, as the doses are usually much higher.

If you need any additional information on selenium or any other supplements and how they can benefit your health, check out GoodGlow’s ebook for all the details. With everything you need to know about taking good care of your skin and body, this guide will leave you feeling informed and empowered to take charge of your general well-being.


Does selenium help clear skin?

Evidence suggests that it helps to minimize scarring and promote skin healing, which may help to clear the skin. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects.

What does selenium do to the face?

Some researchers believe that selenium has antioxidant properties, which can protect the skin from damage. Selenium is also thought to play a role in collagen production, thus helping improve skin elasticity.

Originally Published: August 15, 2022

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Analyzed by Ashley Wilson

Hi, I’m Ashley Wilson, a part-time personal trainer, yoga instructor, and mother of three. My journey with hormonal acne started during pregnancy, which led me to natural remedies discussed on GoodGlow like utilizing a low-inflammation diet, dramatically improving my health and skin. After successfully clearing my acne during my first pregnancy I to share my insights on managing acne naturally and maintaining overall wellness on GoodGlow. I’ve adopted a lifestyle focused on nutrition, yoga, resistance training, and meditation, helping me juggle my busy life with kids and work. I’m always eager to connect and share skincare tips, so feel free to reach out!

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