L-Lysine for Acne – The Amazing Amino Acid

Using L-lysine for acne is one of those little known acne remedies that works amazingly well for some people:

(Probably the same people who told you about it, right?)

L-Lysine for Acne

So I thought I’d dive right in and explain all the nitty-gritty details about this interesting way to treat acne…

What is L-Lysine?

L-lysine is an essential amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein. It’s needed for numerous processes within the human body…

“Essential” amino acids such as L-lysine are not produced by our bodies and must be obtained from the food we eat.

An infographic about lysine and its benefits.

These amino acids come in both D- and L- variations. The L- form is what’s found in foods and supplements and used for protein synthesis.

You’ll often see people refer to this nutrient as simply “lysine”.

What are the Benefits of L-Lysine for Acne?

So, how does lysine help get rid of acne? Well, there are three major ways that lysine may help:

  1. Increased Collagen SynthesisL-lysine is necessary for your body to produce collagen. Collagen is the main structural protein used to create connective tissue throughout the body. You need it for strong tendons, ligaments, arteries and yes – healthy skin. As an added bonus, more collagen also means less wrinkles, dark spots, and other skin imperfections!
A cross section of skin showing collagen and other tissue.

Healthy skin needs collagen. It’s actually the most abundant protein in our bodies!

  1. Reduced Skin Oil – L-lysine is also needed to create another important amino acid called L-carnitine. Carnitine (along with vitamin B5) is necessary for transporting fatty acids across the cell membrane where they can be oxidized. Having enough L-carnitine allows the body to metabolize or burn up excess fatty acids (like the oil our skin produces).
  2. Less StressStudies have shown that taking L-Lysine can help reduce anxiety and stress as well as reduce cortisol levels. Stress contributes to acne by causing inflammation and increasing the production of sebum (skin oil), and androgens (male sex hormones).

Other Benefits of L-Lysine

Lysine has several other benefits worth mentioning. Here are the top four:

  1. Improved Heart Function – When combined with vitamin C, lysine may help prevent and even reverse heart disease. It does this by reducing levels of lipoprotein-a, a type of cholesterol involved in the formation of arterial plaques.
  2. Stronger Bones – L-Lysine improves calcium absorption and may be helpful in treating osteoperosis.

A meme about L-lysine.

  1. Less Cold Sores – Many people take L-Lysine to help prevent cold sores caused by the herpes simplex-1 virus.
  2. May Help Treat CancerStudies have shown that lysine may prove to be a useful weapon in the fight against cancer.

Lysine Rich Foods May Help

Foods high in lysine include protein rich foods such as meat (red meat, poultry, pork, lamb), eggs, legumes, certain fish (sardines, cod), shrimp, shellfish, seeds, nuts, and dairy products (Parmesan cheese in particular).

Some foods kigh in L-Lysine.

Cereals are typically fortified with lysine. People on a low animal protein diet can get adequate levels of L-lysine from eating soy and other legumes as well as fortified cereals.

The Top 10 Foods Highest in L-Lysine

FoodLysine mg/100g% Daily Value
1. Lean Beef & Lamb3582171%
2. Parmesan Cheese3306157%
3. Turkey & Chicken3110148%
4. Pork2757131%
5. Roasted Soy Beans2634125%
6. Tuna2590123%
7. Shrimp2172103%
8. Pumpkin Seeds138666%
9. Eggs91243%
10. White Beans66832%

The Best L-Lysine Supplements for Acne (My Three Favorites)

The easiest way to increase your Lysine levels (especially if you aren’t a big meat-eater) is by taking a high quality nutritional supplement.

Here are my three favorites:

1. NOW L-Lysine 1000 mg Double Strength Tablets (The Best Overall Value)

NOW is an extremely trustworthy and economical brand. I use them for a lot of different supplements that I take, and I’ve always been satisfied. They use good manufacturing processes to create a very reputable supplement.

Their L-Lysine supplement is:

  • Pharmaceutical Grade (USP)
  • Non-GMO
  • GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) Certified

The main reason I like this brand is cost. NOW L-Lysine is very good quality and the price is amazing.

2. Pure Encapsulations L-Lysine (The Highest Quality)

The reason I recommend Pure Encapsulations L-Lysine is because it’s the absolute highest quality you can buy:

Pure Encapsulations is known for producing a line of hypoallergenic supplements meticulously formulated using only the purest ingredients.

All Pure Encapsulations products are free from wheat, gluten, egg, peanuts, GMOs, fillers, artificial colors and numerous other ingredients that may cause problems for some people.

If any of these concerns affect you, put your mind at ease by using this brand of “pure” L-lysine.

3. BulkSupplements Pure L-Lysine Powder (The Lowest Price)

If you want the rock bottom lowest price (without sacrificing quality) then buying L-lysine powder in bulk is the way to go. My recommendation is BulkSupplements Pure L-Lysine Powder.

BulkSupplements is my go-to brand when buying in bulk. They have a stellar reputation for providing high quality products at unbeatable prices.

Their L-lysine powder is:

  • Lab Tested for Verification & Guaranteed Purity.
  • Clean & Pure Powder. No Fillers.

They’ve added hydrochloric acid (HCL) to improve digestion and make the powder more soluble.

You can mix the powder with any drink, or (my favorite) add it to your favorite smoothie!

What About L-Lysine Topical Creams for Acne?

So, another possible way to use lysine for acne, is by using a lysine topical cream. At first glance, this seems like a great idea, but I had a hard time confirming whether or not it’s as effective as taking lysine in a pill.

I did find two reviews on Amazon from people claiming that it works really well:

Two reviews of topical lysine for acne from Amazon

Two useful reviews of Quantum Super Lysine+ cream that I found on Amazon.com. It seems like topical lysine can be a helpful acne remedy.

These reviews make me think that topical lysine may be just as effective for treating acne as taking it in a supplement. The lysine product that these reviews came from is called Quantum Super Lysine+ Cream.

Looking at the ingredients, I noticed that this cream contains several other acne fighting ingredients in addition to lysine:

Quantum Super Lysine+ Cream contains honey, melaleuca alternifolia oil (tea tree oil), vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), and zinc oxide. All of these are known to be helpful in treating acne.

Considering this, I can see why people have had some success using it to treat acne.

I’d say give topical lysine a try, especially if you’re one of those people that don’t get enough lysine in your diet (vegetarians, low meat diets).

L-Lysine Dosage

If you’re wondering how much lysine to take during an outbreak or how much lysine is just too much, keep the following in mind.

Scientific studies have tested the benefits of lysine using a dosage of 1000 mg daily for 12 months and 1000 mg three times daily for 6 months.

Lysine Dosage for Acne

Most people seem to take 1000mg once or twice daily. I’d really recommend keeping your dosage to 2000mg or less as prolonged high doses of lysine may have serious side effects (renal failure in particular.) Lower doses of 1-2g seem to be effective and are very well tolerated.

Keep in mind that proper dosage will vary based on age. Teenagers and young children with acne may want to consult with a doctor before taking L-lysine, since their optimal dosage will likely be lower.

Other Acne Treatments That Pair Well With Lysine

Probably the best acne treatment to pair with L-lysine is Vitamin C. That’s because it’s another necessary ingredient in the formation of collagen, and most people don’t get enough.

The Vitamin C Foundation recommends getting at least 3000 mg of Vitamin C per day. It’s best to get this amount from several doses spaced out through your day, because vitamin C has a short half-life in the blood stream.

Foods high in vitamin C may help treat acne..

Another good idea is to pick a topical treatment to go with the L-lysine (which will be fighting your acne from the inside). Some of my favorite topicals are tea tree oil and aloe vera.

If the acne treatments you’ve been using just aren’t cutting it, try something new:

Check out my list of 61 of the best ways to get rid of acne.

Lysine Side Effects

According to WebMD.com, the most common lysine side effects are stomach pain and diarrhea.

A woman with stomach pain side effect from taking L-lysine for acne.

Special Precautions:

Pregnancy: If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, stay on the safe side and avoid taking lysine.

Kidney Disease: There is one report of a woman who developed kidney disease after taking 3000mg of lysine daily for 5 years. If you have kidney disease, be sure to check with your doctor before taking lysine.

Osteoporosis: Lysine increases calcium absorption. Avoid taking lysine and large amounts of calcium simultaneously.

Summary and Conclusion

L-Lysine definitely has potential as an acne treatment, especially if you suspect stress might be contributing to your acne.

You may also want to consider trying Lysine if you don’t eat a lot of lysine-rich foods, for example if you’re a vegetarian or on other low-meat diets.

For these people, dietary supplements of L-lysine seem to be effective. Topical L-lysine products also seem to work well for some people.

I have a feeling that the reason some people claim that lysine works so amazingly well (and others see no benefit) is because maybe those people were deficient in lysine to begin with.

So, I think lysine is one of those acne remedies that definitely has potential for some people, but is in no way a guarenteed thing or some sort of magic bullet…

Now I’d Like to Hear From You:

Have you tried using Lysine? What were your results?

Or maybe you have a question. Either way, leave a quick comment below right now.

Sophia Simmons

I'm not a doctor or anything like that :( , but I love writing about how to have beautiful, clear skin. I put a ton of time and research into everything I write, so I really hope you'll enjoy reading my articles!!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Greg McMahon - January 23, 2018

Thank you Sophia. I have been a vegetarian for one year now, but I have suffered with acne my whole adult life, mainly on the nose and face.

I have been scouring the internet looking for natural ways to help my skin and L-Lysine looked like it had potential in my mind.

The supplements I purchased were 1000mg. I took one that night and there was already a noticeable improvement the next morning. I am shocked in the appearance of my skin, chronic spots are reducing and disappearing, puffiness has gone, color has improved.


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