Creatine and Acne: Is There a Connection?

Written by: Kat Austin



Time to read 4 min

Creatine is a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders, known for its ability to enhance physical performance and increase muscle mass. However, some people worry that creatine might cause acne or other skin issues.

While there is some concern about whether creatine causes acne, there is currently no definitive evidence that links creatine supplements to breakouts.

Still, experiencing an acne outbreak after taking creatine is no fun. Let's talk about the potential connection between creatine and acne, delving into what creatine is, potential reasons for breakouts while using this supplement–and what to do about it.

Key Takeaways

Creatine is a popular supplement among athletes for enhancing physical performance.

Although creatine might affect hormones, studies do not indicate it causes acne.

To minimize acne while using creatine, shower after workouts, wear clean workout clothes, use oil-free skincare products, and stay hydrated to reduce the risk of breakouts.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a non-protein amino acid that serves as an energy source for muscle contractions during intense exercise. It's naturally produced in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, and can also be obtained from dietary sources like meat and seafood, as well as from supplements.

Creatine plays a crucial role in replenishing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy source for muscle contractions during high-intensity activities. Creatine also has a direct impact on anabolic hormones, like growth hormone 1 (IGF-1) and testosterone.

Creatine Use and Safety

Creatine supplements are often used to improve athletic performance, enhance workout recovery, and even for injury prevention and neuroprotection. Many people also benefit from creatine’s nootropic effects, which may help to boost cognitive function and improve focus.

The most commonly studied form of creatine is creatine monohydrate, known for its proven effectiveness, safety, and low cost. Other forms, such as buffered creatine and creatine HCL, are also available, but creatine monohydrate remains the most widely used.

Concerns about creatine causing acne hinge heavily on its hormone impact, which has also raised questions about whether creatine affects hair loss, weight gain, or menstruation. 

Luckily, creatine has an incredibly solid safety profile, with over 700 studies supporting its potential benefits for both physical and cognitive health.

Does Creatine Cause Acne?

Despite common concerns, there's no scientific evidence to suggest that creatine causes acne.

In fact, studies indicate that topical creatine can improve skin appearance by reducing wrinkles and sagging, and it may even protect against ultraviolet (UV) damage. Creatine's link to acne might stem from confusion with anabolic steroids, which are known to cause acne and other skin issues.

The misconception that creatine leads to acne could also be due to increased physical activity. When people start taking creatine, they often exercise more intensely, leading to increased sweating, which can cause bacteria buildup on the skin and potentially trigger acne.

Other common side effects of creatine, like water retention, muscle cramps, diarrhea, nausea, dehydration, and seizures, do not include acne.

Creatine's Hormone Impact

Creatine’s potential impact on hormones causes confusion about its potential impact on other hormone-related conditions, like acne. However, creatine’s impact on hormones may be beneficial.

In fact, a dose of creatine at rest may boost growth hormone IGF-1 production for several hours, promoting tissue growth and repair. Some evidence suggests that creatine may also help to boost and balance estrogen production in women, leading to more regular menstrual cycles.

No evidence currently links creatine to the improvement or worsening of acne. However, some theories suggest that it could improve the occurrence of hormone-based acne for some people by helping to balance hormone levels.

Keep in mind that everyone's experience with creatine will vary. It's important to discuss changes to your wellness regimen with your doctor, especially if you begin to experience significant acne breakouts.

Preventing Acne While Using Creatine

If you're taking creatine and notice an increase in acne, it's likely due to other factors, such as sweating from exercise, improper skin care, or dehydration

Here are some tips to help prevent breakouts while supplementing with creatine:

  • Shower after exercise: Remove sweat and bacteria from your skin as soon as possible after a workout.

  • Wear clean workout clothes: Use fresh, breathable clothing to reduce skin irritation.

  • Use oil-free skincare products: This can help reduce the risk of clogged pores and acne.

  • Avoid sharing exercise equipment: If you must, be sure to wipe it down before use.

  • Remove makeup before exercising: This reduces the chances of blocked pores and skin irritation.

  • Drink plenty of water: Creatine changes the way the body uses water and can require increased water intake. Dehydration can exacerbate acne by leading to increased oil production as the skin tries to compensate for the lack of moisture, which can clog pores and trigger breakouts.


Creatine is an effective supplement for improving physical performance and muscle growth, but there's no direct evidence linking it to acne. If you're experiencing breakouts while using creatine, it's likely due to factors like increased sweating, improper skin care, or other unrelated causes.

By following proper skincare practices and maintaining a healthy exercise routine, you can reduce the risk of acne while taking creatine. If you're concerned about persistent or severe acne, it's best to consult with a dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment options.

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  1. “Creatine Supplementation, Physical Exercise and Oxidative Stress Markers: A Review of the Mechanisms and Effectiveness”

  2. “Effect of creatine supplementation and resistance-exercise training on muscle insulin-like growth factor in young adults”

  3. “Creatine Supplementation in Women’s Health: A Lifespan Perspective”