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I tried the $139 clear skin supplement.

I’ve never experienced acne that you could classify as ‘severe’, and since being on prescription skincare (which I’ll dive into in a future post), about 90% of the time my skin is pretty consistently calm, but when I spotted the Zilch Acne Formula Instagram account, I was more than curious.

I’ve long been a fan of taking certain vitamins for skin health – niacinamide is one (vitamin B3), and zinc is another – both of these have a decent amount of scientific backing to make them worth a shot in my opinion, but like anything, every body will react differently. Back to Zilch – what really got me about this product was the FAQ page where they state:

“Zilch Acne Formula is designed as a long term solution to acne. When the skin is clear, you should be able to stop taking Zilch. General advice is to ween off the herbs by taking 50% dose for two weeks and assessing your skin, to give yourself time to see if you need to continue taking it or not.

Aside from some oh-so-intense oral medications for acne, where have you ever seen a company suggest that they have a long term acne solution? The beauty industry is built on the need for more, newer, better, faster, stronger. For the sake of research, I ordered a bottle.

Having taken vitamins daily (and more recently dosing up on Armaforce), I wasn’t too put off by the ultra-herbal-y tablets with a slight powdery feel, but with the recommendation to take up to 4 TWICE A DAY (and away from food), took some adjusting to. You can certainly take less, but in the interest of a “full force” dose, I went to 8 tablets daily.

In this vegan formula there are 17 herbal ingredients (oh, and a little potato starch), including safflower, red sage and Japanese honeysuckle – and there wasn’t anything in the mix where I thought “Oh, I’ve read about this as an oral supplement before!” but this is to be expected – this formula is based on Chinese herbal medicine and formulated by Dr Vivian Tam (an expert in Chinese Medicine Dermatology). Admittedly, I knew NOTHING of this in relation to skin health, and Zilch boasts a whopping proven success rate of over 90%. So here’s my key takeaways:

  1. There’s no queasiness – although I ate away from meals when I could, regardless of a full or empty stomach, I never felt nauseous (and let me tell you, nothing is quite like that sick feeling of zinc on an empty stomach).

  2. It is herbal in “flavour” but it doesn’t last once you’ve swallowed (and it’s a good chance to get some water in).

  3. Although I didn’t use this product in isolation (topical products were in the mix), I didn’t get any annoying deep cysts or small breakouts while taking Zilch. Did I notice a dramatic difference? No, because there wasn’t anything dramatic to clear – there are several skincare bloggers who swear by Zilch as the kick-start to healing severe acne.

For about $140, is it worth it? If you’ve gone down the path of all the topicals and haven’t yet adjusted your diet and supplements to combat acne (or you’re finding yourself at your wits end with recent hormonal changes and breakouts), as a one-time cost, it’s certainly better value than a slew of new cleansers or face masks. If you have small amounts of acne and fairly consistent skin, you might be better off with a more generic skin supplement including zinc to ease up on congestion.

Bring on the next generation of skincare supplements - it's never going to be as easy as one-a-day to perfect skin, but it can't hurt to bolster your body with some more skin loving ingredients, right?


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