Last Updated on August 7th, 2019
The effectiveness of cinnamon as a home remedy to get rid of acne has been well established since long back. Acne affected individuals have tried and used this remedy as a trusted method to rid themselves of their skin afflictions.
The scientific community has now taken note of the effectiveness of cinnamon in treating acne and this acceptance has made cinnamon the choice when treating acne at home.
In fact it is now widely advocated for clearing not only acne but also as a means to get rid hyper- pigmentation, removing scars caused by acne and as a general topical application for improving the skin health. Cinnamon is most effective when mixed with yogurt or honey and applied as a face mask.
Besides its topical effectiveness, cinnamon, when consumed, also has the inherent capability to lower blood sugar levels, as well as insulin1, which results in decreasing the sebum content of the skin thus reducing oiliness and acne outbreaks.
This write-up will try and address the effectiveness of cinnamon when used topically and also when consumed.
Article Table of Contents
The fact that cinnamon is one of the richest sources of anti-oxidants is well established. It is in fact far superior to blueberries or even raspberries. And this high content of anti-oxidants enables cinnamon to work against free radicals and keep the cells of the skin healthy.
But the scientific community wanted a substance that could delay the natural aging process by activating the inactive synthesis of collagen. They concentrated their efforts in the daily foods that were consumed. Their research led them2 to the discovery of enhanced collagen synthesis when extracts of cinnamon was applied topically to the skin.
On further research, the scientists identified a specific ingredient in cinnamon known as cinnamldehyde which was responsible for enhancing the synthesis of collagen. According to the study, cinnamaldehyde increased the primary form of collagen, namely type I collagen, which is responsible for the generation of new tissue and maintaining the structure of the skin. Type I collagen enhanced the action of collagen by increasing the effectiveness of IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor. This led the researcher to conclude that cinnamon is an effective remedy for reversing the aging process of the skin.
The thing to note is that cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon is responsible for the spices’ taste and smell which is only 0.5 to 1.0 % whereas 65% of it is the active ingredient which has the potency to enhance the levels of type1 collagen.
This is a growth hormone found in cow as well as human milk. It is biologically designed to increase the growth process. But its effectiveness has also been proved in enhancing the type I collagen formation as well as controlling different genes and proteins.
Increased levels of IGF-1 in the blood leads to increased sensitivity of insulin receptors in the cells which then results in increased production of sebum3. And as is known, increased sebum production leads to oily skin and oily skin being a precursor to acne outbreaks. This being one of the reasons why acne can be precipitated by drinking milk. But topical application of cinnamon has far less chances of causing this reaction through its active ingredient cinnamaldehyde.
The above study took into account the extracts of cinnamon as a complete entity whose beneficial effects can be accessed from local sources.
It has been theorized that cinnamon not only benefits the skin tone but also exhibits properties that takes care of skin color. This is in fact true and is attributed to the anti-tyrosinase activity shown by cinnamaldehyde.
Tyrosinase is an enzyme which is responsible for the production of melanin which in turn is responsible for skin color and is considered a major source for hyper-pigmentation. This activity is brought about by the conversion of tyrosinase, a non-essential amino acid. The level of tyrosinase in an individual’s skin explains his/her skin color. For example, the melanocytes obtained from dark skin have ten times more tyrosinase activity; while on the other hand, albinos had a mutated tyrosinase gene explaining their skin coloring.
Tyrosinase is essential but when it localized in excessive levels, it gives rise to an uneven skin color. This is especially significant for acne. Besides, being outdoors can also lead to pigmentation as sunlight can form tyrosinase by oxidizing tyrosine.
Maintaining optimum tyrosinase levels helps in acquiring a healthy skin and cinnamon by virtue of its ingredient cinnamaldehyde has this property.
In a study conducted4 to ascertain the anti-tyrosinase property of cinnamon, scientists found that the cinnamaldehyde extract content in the essential oil demonstrated powerful anti-tyrosinase properties while another ingredient in cinnamon called cis-2 methoxycinnamic did not affect tyrosinase at all. This led the scientists to conclude that cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon exhibited powerful anti-tyrosinase properties and could be a useful source in getting rid of pigmentation.
In another study5, researchers found the anti-tyrosinase inhibiting property of the entire cinnamon essential oil. This included 19 other compounds that were identified out of which 77.1% was cinnamaldehyde while 6% was beta-caryophyllene, 4.4% was alpha-terpineol and 3% was eugenol. They concluded that the whole essential oil demonstrated anti-tyrosinase property and helped in reduction of hyper-pigmentation and that this was mainly attributed to the presence of cinnamaldehyde and eugenol.
The beneficial effects of cinnamon have been known and practiced since long back and it is only just recently that science has conclusively proved its benefits and effectiveness in acquiring a healthy skin. This once again goes to show that if an individual is getting satisfactory results with a topical treatment to get rid acne or pigmentation, then sticking with it is the best course of action.
Anti-oxidants play a major role in getting rid of acne as they arrest free radical activity, control inflammation and unclog skin pores. Cinnamon, by virtue of its bioactive ingredient cinnamaldehyde is an excellent source of anti-oxidants. In fact when compared to ginger and blueberries, it scores 267536 on the ORAC scale as against 28811 and 6552 with ginger and blueberries respectively.
In a study conducted to ascertain the anti-oxidative property of 26 different spices and herbs, Ceylon cinnamon proved more effective than oregano and garlic and was counted as being the richest food having anti-oxidative properties.
In another study6, it was found that cinnamaldehyde content in cinnamon demonstrated significant anti-oxidative properties that arrested free radical activity and proved more powerful than vitamin E. Besides cinnamaldehyde, cinnamon also contains various other anti-oxidative ingredients like cinnamate, procyanidins, cinnamic acid and catechins.
In yet another major study7, researchers attempted to study the direct correlation between cinnamon and its potency to fight infection. In this particular study, the extracts from two inner barks of cinnamon were dried in alcohol and tested against the causative bacterial strain, p.acnes which is responsible for infections in acne. The researchers concluded that the alcohol dried cinnamon extracts showed significant bacterial inhibition properties and this was, according to them, attributed to the presence of cinnamaldehyde and eugenol. Their further propounded that cinnamon could be an excellent source in formulations for the treatment of acne.
Besides being a flavoring agent and also acting as a preservative, cinnamon, because of its potency to fight infection is an excellent source for getting rid of acne as well as enhancing skin health.
Unlike turmeric, another excellent source for getting rid of acne, cinnamon which has been reported by a couple of studies to cause skin irritation from UV radiation after its application, the topical application of cinnamon has shown to be quite safe without any adverse side effects.
In fact, out of the minor side effects reported to the FDA with the consumption of cinnamon, photosensitivity was reported in only two instances. However, there is a possibility of side effects with the direct application of cinnamon but there is no evidence to prove this.
But the natural plant toxin coumarin could lead to irritation of the skin and cinnamon has significant amounts of this toxin. This plant toxin has been known to cause damage to the liver when ingested in large quantities. However this adverse side effect is only with a certain variety of cinnamon called cassia cinnamon which is a derivative from the Cinnamomum cassia plant from China.
Although freely available in retail outlets, cassia cinnamon is not an actual cinnamon. The actual cinnamon is Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka and India. This variety of cinnamon has absolutely no traces of the plant toxin, coumarin. Moreover, topical application of coumarin is quite different from ingesting it and will not precipitate any adverse side effects. In fact it has been observed to exhibit an anti-inflammatory effect on skin.
Although every plant source has inherent toxins as their defense mechanism, but there have not been any reports of major side effects with cinnamon.
There is a lot of information on how to combine cinnamon with other ingredients to get quick and effective results in getting rid of acne at home. And most of these acne treatment formulations are freely available on the internet. But there are certain things that one needs to keep in mind before opting for any of these treatment regimes. Firstly, most of these methods are devoid of any scientific basis and secondly they are quite illogical and that is why some of these methods work and some fail to produce any results.
The following science based cinnamon combinations are extremely effective in getting rid of acne.
Aloe vera & Cinnamon – There are two growth hormones present in the gel of the aloe vera plant leaf. These two hormones, namely glucomanna and gibberellin, have the intrinsic ability to stimulate the production of collagen8 and when combined with cinnamon, the effects are extremely beneficial. Moreover, the anti-inflammatory and high levels of anti-oxidants of aloe vera prove to be very effective in getting rid of acne. Combining aloe vera with prescribed retinoids also provides an extremely effective acne removal method.
Egg Whites & Cinnamon – Egg whites contain an enzyme called lysozyme which is a potent skin color improver. This is due to the inhibitory action of tyrosinase brought about by lysozyme which is quite similar to the action of cinnamaldehyde. Combining egg whites with cinnamon creates a very potent regimen for hyperpigmentation. This combination works best for stubborn, stand alone dark patches of skin.
Grape-seed Oil & Cinnamon – Grapeseed oil is an excellent moisturizer and does not block the pores of the skin. Cinnamon on the other hand enhances the health of the skin as well as improves skin color. When combined, the mixture not only moisturizes and improves the health of the skin but also helps remove acne due to the vitamin E present in grape-seed oil. The application procedure is very simple. Just add cinnamon to grapeseed oil till a consistent paste and then apply it.
Royal Jelly & Cinnamon – Royal jelly is the ‘food’ for the queen bee and is secreted by worker bees to help the queen bee grow. This jelly is extremely rich9 in vitamins, growth factors, minerals, anti-oxidants and peptides. It has also been found to have certain compounds that fight infection and improve collagen production. Combining royal jelly with cinnamon provides a potent source for improving the health of the skin as well as enhances the ability to fight infection. The latter part is even more significant because the jelly catalyzes the antibacterial property of cinnamaldehyde to inhibit the growth of bacteria or p.acnes. The application procedure is very simple as cinnamon powder and the jelly mix very well and can be applied on the affected area easily.
Cinnamon is an effective topical home remedy to get rid of acne which is brought about by increasing the levels of collagen. This not only helps improve the overall health of the skin but when applied regularly can also delay the aging process. All these benefits of this common spice had been taken advantage of years back without having any scientific proof of its efficacy. But now, science has proved that the ingredients present in cinnamon have the ability to bring about effective results pertaining to skin affliction.
The benefits related to skin care shown by cinnamon can be attributed to cinnamaldehyde and this is especially true when it comes to treating hyperpigmentation as well as its antibacterial activity against p.acnes.
And when combined with other compounds, the efficacy of cinnamon to get rid of acne and improve skin tone and skin color is further enhanced.
Cinnamon is a convenient home remedy that actually works and is effective is getting rid of acne by its inherent ingredients.
To be your most trusted ally in your pursuit of clear, healthy skin.