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Does Pre Workout Cause Acne? (Yes If It Has THESE Ingredients)

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So, you’re thinking about taking pre workout to help boost your sessions in the gym.

That’s a solid decision!

While I don’t take it myself, I know many ripped people who swear by the stuff.

One reason why I don’t take it is that I have acne-prone skin.

In other words, there are many foods/drinks/supplements out there that can trigger my acne. And in my eyes, pre workout is one of these supplements.

Does Pre Workout Cause Acne?

Pre workout contains ingredients which may cause pimples. For example, the high amount of caffeine in pre workout can dry out your skin, which can contribute to acne. Also, the artificial sweeteners in pre workout can make you more insulant resistant which is linked to acne development.

In this article, we’ll cover the reasons why pre workout can cause acne, as well as the best pre workout supplements that don’t cause acne.

What In Pre Workout Causes Acne?

In this part of the article, we’re going to cover ingredients in pre workout which may cause acne.

Just to be clear, this doesn’t mean that everyone who takes pre workout will suffer from acne.

But it provides some explanation as to why I (and other people with acne-prone skin) should be cautious when taking pre workout.


Many pre workout supplements contain a high caffeine amount in the range of 150mg to 300mg per serving.

This is partly why pre workout supplements make you feel “wired”.

Why is this bad if you’re prone to acne?

Well, research has shown that caffeine may have a diuretic effect on the kidneys.

In other words, it can cause your body to make more pee than usual which can aggravate acne in multiple ways.

First, peeing more than usual can lead to a poor hydration status.

When you’re dehydrated, one of the first organs that’s affected is the skin.

For most people, dry skin isn’t an issue. But for those of us with acne-prone skin, the oil which our skin produces to combat the dryness can clog pores and lead to blemishes.

Second, caffeine may reduce the absorption of magnesium which can cause your body to pee out this unused magnesium.

Research shows that magnesium plays an important role in reducing inflammation. And some believe that acne is triggered by inflammation.

Artificial Sweeteners

What do the following popular pre workouts have in common?

  • MuscleTech Vapor X5
  • MyProtein THE Pre-Workout +
  • Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre Workout

Answer: They’re full of artificial sweeteners.

Why could this be problematic for acne sufferers?

Well, according to research, many different artificial sweeteners increase insulin levels and insulin resistance just like sugar does.

In one study, 15 participants took either 200mg of sucralose or a placebo each day for 4 weeks.

By the end of the study, those in the sucralose group were more insulin resistant than those in the placebo group.

In another study, those who consumed aspartame with a meal had significantly higher insulin levels than those who consumed a natural sweetener with a meal.

Unfortunately for acne sufferers, research suggests that insulin resistance may play a key role in acne development.

3 Best Pre Workouts That Don’t Cause Acne


So now that we know which ingredients in pre workout are problematic for acne, let’s see 3 epic pre workout supplements which exclude these ingredients.

1. Genius Pre Workout Powder

Click to see on Amazon


A highly rated caffeine-free pre workout supplement that’s naturally sweetened with Stevia extract.

Genius Pre Workout Powder ticks all the boxes.

Why I like it

I’m a big fan of Genius as a supplement brand.

Their supplements (including this one) are typically 3rd party tested for purity and potency which shows that you can trust their labels.

(You’d be surprised at how many supplement companies report inaccurate figures in their ingredients list!)

Also, it’s great that this supplement contains L-Arginine as this been shown to increase Nitric Oxide levels, which help give you a good pump.

The addition of Rhodiola Rosea is great too as this helps enhance mental and physical performance.

(Fun Fact: It’s believed the Vikings consumed Rhodiola Rosea before going into battle.)

Potential Drawbacks

When you substitute cheap ingredients like caffeine and artificial sweeteners for natural alternatives, you end up with a more expensive product.

Unfortunately, this cost is passed on to you meaning this is a tad pricier than your “standard” pre workout supplement.

Check price and read more reviews of Genius Pre Workout Powder on Amazon.

2. Type Zero Clean Pre Workout Powder

Click to see on Amazon


Like Genius Pre Workout Powder, this is another quality supplement that’s caffeine-free and naturally sweetened with Stevia.

Perfect for those who are prone to pimples.

Why I like it

The potency of this supplement is super impressive.

For example, a single serving provides:

  • 5,000mg of Citrulline Malate
  • 2,000mg of Arginine
  • 1,000mg of Beet Root Extract
  • 150mg of Beta Alanine

Each of these ingredients will help boost your workout intensity without giving you the caffeine crash or spiking your insulin levels.

Also, this is a tad cheaper than Genius Pre Workout powder making it a more suitable option for those on a budget.

Potential Drawbacks

Some users aren’t a fan of the taste of this supplement.

Check price and read more reviews of Type Zero Pre Workout on Amazon.

3. Pre Historic Stim-Free Pre Workout Powder

Click to see on Amazon


An all-natural pre workout supplement that’s enhanced with nootropics.

Pre Historic Stim-Free Pre Workout Powder is the real deal.

Why I like it

I love that this supplement contains ingredients to help each aspect of your workout.

For example, it includes Citrulline Malate and Beet Root Extract to help improve your pump.

It also includes Beta-Alanine and Creatine to help boost your strength.

And then there’s stuff like Taurine and L-Theanine added to improve your energy and focus.

To put the icing on the cake, it has added BCAAs which help improve recovery.

So yes. This supplement works from all angles.

Potential Drawbacks

One user has reported feeling sick after taking this supplement.

Check price and read more reviews of Pre Historic Stim-Free Pre Workout Powder on Amazon.

Does C4 Pre Workout Cause Acne?

C4 Pre Workout is the best-selling pre workout in the USA. So, I’m sure many of you are wondering whether C4 causes acne.

Well, a quick scan through the ingredients shows C4 contains 150mg of caffeine as well as sucralose.

While this is less caffeine than many other pre workouts, I’d personally stay clear if you’re prone to acne.

Does Lit Pre Workout Cause Acne?

Beyond Raw Lit Pre Workout is another popular pre workout that many people swear by.

Looking at the product label, each serving provides 250mg of caffeine as well as sucralose and acesulfame K.

So not only does it have more caffeine that C4, but it has another type of artificial sweetener.

For this reason, I’d avoid if you have acne prone skin.

Does Ghost Pre Workout Cause Acne?

Another pre workout that’s highly regarded is Ghost Pre Workout.

A single serving of Ghost provides 202mg of caffeine as well as sucralose.

Since it has a fair amount of caffeine and an artificial sweetener, I wouldn’t recommend this pre workout if you suffer from acne.

Does Total War Pre Workout Cause Acne?

Redcon1’s Total War Pre Workout is one of the strongest pre workout supplements on the market.

A single dose provides a whopping 320mg of caffeine!

To give you some perspective, a cup of coffee contains just under 100mg of caffeine. So a serving of Total War contains more caffeine than 3 cups of coffee.

Also, Total War contains 2 artificial sweeteners – sucralose and acesulfame K.

And therefore, I would stay well clear if you’re type of person who gets acne.

3 Natural Remedies For Acne

Some of you may be thinking:

You know what Robb… I just want to take normal pre workout and deal with my acne separately.

And that’s fine.

If you are in this boat, then here are my 3 top tips for reducing acne.

1. Take Cold Showers

Cold showers help acne in multiple ways.

For example, they help reduce oiliness by not drying your skin out.

(When you have dry skin after a hot shower, your body compensates by producing more oil which is problematic for acne sufferers.)

Another way they help reduce acne is by improving immune function.

That’s right – cold showers increase the number of white blood cells in your body. (Source)

How cool is that?!

So by having more white blood cells, your body will have more ammo at fighting the bacteria which is known to cause acne.

2. Take a Milk Thistle Supplement

Many people supplement with Milk Thistle for its liver protective effects.

But not many people know about its ability to combat acne.

In one study, 60 patients with acne were treated with either Milk Thistle, Antibiotics, or both.

The results showed that those in the Milk Thistle group showed similar improvements in acne as those in the Antibiotics group based off their Global Acne Grading System scores.

Milk Thistle is believed to be useful for acne due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

3. Take a Fish Oil Supplement

Fish Oil supplements are rich in omega 3 fats that offer a wide range of health benefits.

But nowadays, far too many people are consuming too much omega 6 and too little omega 3.

Fish Oils are rich in EPA and DHA. These are fatty acids which help reduce inflammation – a major player in acne.

In a 10-week study, 45 acne patients were given supplements that contained either omega 3, linoleic acid, or a placebo.

The results showed that those who took the omega 3 had significantly reduced acne lesions compared to the placebo group.

Interestingly, those who took the linoleic acid supplements had improved acne too.

(Related reading: The 3 Best Fish Oil Supplements To Reduce Inflammation)


Wrapping things up, it’s clear that ‘standard’ pre workout may be a bad idea for those with acne-prone skin.

This is mainly due to the high caffeine content and the addition of artificial sweeteners.

But fear not…

There are many awesome pre workout supplements out there that contain NO caffeine or artificial sweeteners.

While these tend to be more expensive than your “standard” pre workout, it’s a price worth paying if you want to have clear skin.

We’ve also covered 3 useful strategies to reduce acne in cold showers, Milk Thistle supplements, and Fish Oil supplements. These certainly helped me, and I have no doubt that they can benefit you too.

Well, that’s all I have for today guys!

I really hope you’ve enjoyed this article and I look forward to seeing you in the next one.

Take care.


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