Can Cinnamon Help Clear Your Acne?
Lots of people apply cinnamon to their face topically as a part of a "burning" mask (usually mixed with lemon and honey), with the belief that it will clear their acne and their scars - and I was one of them once upon a time. Over time, though, I have learned that there are things you just shouldn't put on your face - lemon and cinnamon are two of those things (and honey actually appears to be useless for skin conditions like psoriasis, acne and eczema, after all (1)(2)(3)(4)).
Regardless, cinnamon may have very real applications in treating acne - when you consume it!
Cinnamon is a yummy addition to many meals: oatmeals, breads, cookies, apple pies, sweet vegan butters, and it is even used in the preparation of chocolate, especially in Mexico. My favourite way to eat cinnamon is in my morning oatmeal, sprinkled on top of some cubed Granny Smith apples. It's a warm and hearty way to start your day! But seriously, it's great in anything. Tell me on cinnamon-flavoured thing that you're not in love with, I dare ya.
But keep in mind that the type of cinnamon you use matters immensely. Opt for "true cinnamon" (a.k.a. Ceylon cinnamon; Cinnamomum zeylanicum). Find out more about this in my previous blog post here.
How Can Cinnamon help my acne?
1. Cinnamon has shown potential anti-microbial actions against a wide variety of bacteria (1)(2). For those of us prone to bacterial-induced acne, this may be especailly useful in our acne-fighting diet rich in plant-based foods.
2. Cinnamon may act as an antioxidant in the body (1)(2). Generally people with acne have higher levels of oxidative stress and lower levels of antioxidants, so antioxidants in the body are beneficial. Antioxidants help to combat free radical damage that can wreak havoc on your poor skin, so having a diet rich in antioxidants (such as those found in high concentrations in brightly coloured fruits and veggies), can actually help your acne.
4. Cinnamon may be immunomodulatory (1), which has proven beneficial in acne treatments in the past.
5. Cinnamon may help with wound healing (1), which is of obvious importance to those of us with existing acne. Pimples may heal faster with heightened wound-healing capabilities.
6. One of the most compelling ways that cinnamon may help with acne, is in its pre-diabetic and diabetic effects on blood pressure, glycaemic control and lipids (1)(2)(3)(4)(5). Insulin levels are important when it comes to acne, so regulating your glycemic load is a major advantage. Consuming cinnamon regularly can help to control any insulin spikes that may take their toll on your face.
Pretty incredible, right?
Cinnamon kind of does it all! It attacks acne through so many pathways, and its effects are very real.
Overall, the available in vitro and animal in vivo evidence suggests that cinnamon has several mechanisms of action that may spead to its effects on skin health. However, there are only very few well-controlled clinical studies, a fact that limits the conclusions that can be made about the potential health benefits of cinnamon. Regardless, the blood sugar application seems the most promising way that cinnamon may positively affect our skin and our health, so for that reason alone it's a wonderful idea to include it in your diet.
If you're looking for some high quality Ceylon cinnamon for a decent price, try this brand for Canadians, and this brand for Americans, or this brand from iHerb (ships internationally, to Canada and the U.S. as well).
However, please remember that cinnamon, like anything else, is not a miracle cure. It likely won't clear up your acne miraculously, but it may help contribute to clear skin when combined with other dietary choices, skin care products and lifestyle changes.