Plant-based omega from flax oil cause acne?

I don’t know what to do with this new bottle of Flax Oil supplement. I just bought it but found that it is causing me to break out with red cystic acne around my mouth. Strange, considering flaxseed oil is a natural source of omega essential fatty acids (EFAs) which is supposed to be good for helping skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis and eczema.

Actually, I haven’t been breaking out a lot since I started on probiotics to clear my acne but I developed two the day I started on this flax oil. And the reason I made the immediate connection is because avocados, which are high in monounsaturated fats and essential fatty acids also give me acne almost instantly.

EFAs and testosterone production
Anyway, I’m not alone as I read that others also broke out after taking flaxoil or flaxseed supplement according to this forum thread. It seems that EFAs helps with testosterone production but unfortunately, higher levels of testosterone cause the glands to produce more oil, causing acne!  I’m not sure if fish oil has the same effects for me because I took that some time back when I wasn’t having issues with acne.

Plant-based vs animal-based omega
Unlike fish oil that contains two omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA, flax oil is rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which is the “parent” fatty acid to DHA and EPA. Although similar in structure, the benefits of alpha-linolenic acid, EPA, and DHA are not the same. Anyway, my understanding is that flaxseed oil contains plant-based omega and it looks like plant-based omega is not suitable for my skin.

Any of you have experience with flaxseed oil to share?  Did it help with your skin condition or did it make it worse?


  1. Belinda Lindhardt says:

    This is really interesting, i was just about to pickup some flax oil when next at the shops cause i heard it was supposed to help. (it sounds like we have very similar skin issues).. my skin has improved a bit of late I might hold off on it .. and monitor the progress.

    i found i have been taking occasionally a digestive tonic which helps with the stomach acid.

    thanks for the great info its so good hear i am not the only one having these issues ?

  2. astrorainfall @ beauty box says:

    Actually, my experiences with both fish and flax oil supplements have been very good.

    Perhaps my skin lacked oil to begin with so with supplementation, my skin was no longer producing excess oil which caused me to have pimples.

  3. chenyze says:

    eeps, so does that mean that people who suspect themselves to have higher testosterone levels than other women and/or oily skin, shouldn’t go overload EFAs?

  4. sesame says:

    I was pretty surprised flaxoil don’t work on me. Actually, I took it before but it was maybe two or three years ago when I didn’t have issues with acne. I think my hormonal imbalance is also contributing to the problem. But yeah, it’s better to be cautious since you have an acne issue and others with acne have reported breakouts after taking flax oil.

  5. sesame says:

    Could be…or your hormones are very balance and there are no issues. Anyway, I’ve also read others who had good things to say about using flaxoil.

  6. sesame says:

    The link isn’t fully established so I can’t say it’s definitive but I guess you want to be careful if you have hormonal issues. I hadn’t suspect but I was so surprised that a fruit like avocado could break me out. And also, EFA from fish oil could behave differently on us as those with problems taking flaxoil seem to be okay with fish oil.

  7. CK says:

    I think flax oil is to be ingested; I have never heard of its topical use. A trick that has worked wonders for both my sister and I, is HONEY. Either pure honey, or a honey-cinnamon mixture. Leave it on the face for about 10-20 minutes, and it will clear your acne like magic (plus it leaves the skin soft). Unless you’re allergic, I swear it’s magic!!! Try it for a week, and you will not be disappointed. Plus, it’s all natural ?

  8. sesame says:

    Yes, it was ingested. I hadn’t mentioned anything about applying topically although it is possible. Flax oil is good for getting rids of fine lines…but the smell is something else.

  9. pf1123 says:

    Hi Sesame, I read that the oils are good. But Omega 3 and 6 have to be in certain proportion. I think this oil is omega 6. Could it be your acne resulted due to too much of omega 6 but not right proportion of omega 3?

  10. Iris Weaver says:

    It is really surprising to hear that a breakout is caused by this natural ingredient. I tried flaxseed oil before and I took 2 tablespoons daily. And after a few weeks I had less breakouts and the skin tone got better. The experience is good.

    I have mentioned your post at my blog ( I think it is good to let more know the effect of flax oil before they make a start.

  11. Jasmine says:

    Testosterone production! :O

    I would be worried because testosterone in our bodies can get converted to dihydrotesterone, which will attack our scalp hair follicles and cause male pattern baldness … ?

  12. sesame says:

    I did read about that but I can’t figure out. Not sure…but this one has all three – 3, 6 & 9. It was already funny I broke out each time I eat avocado. Now this!

  13. sesame says:

    That’s what I thought…it’s supposed to be good for our skin and even hair. I was deciding between fish oil and flaxseed and decided on this only because my best friend is taking it. *sigh* I think it differs with individuals. My hormones are probably more imbalance…but others enjoy the benefits when they take this.

  14. sesame says:

    Oh dear! I think I have that issue years ago because I had a thinning hair problem at my crown. But then, I didn’t have acne issues.

  15. pf1123 says:

    Hmmm…then I don’t know. Hope you have luck in researching!

  16. sesame says:

    I’ll most probably get a bottle of fish oil to try instead. I was taking that for quite awhile before my acne issues surfaced and it was okay. Cross fingers that it will turn out okay.

  17. babybunii says:

    I read a book about healing skin problems naturally and it actually says flex seed oil as a good way to prevent acne & balance oil flow.

    But it recommend adding the real oil or seed to your food rather than popping on supplements.

    I only take omega 3-6-9 supplement occasionally, and I donno if it make my acne skin worst or better… Because I also heard that it can actually make ur condition worst..
    What about Evening Primose oil? will it cause breakouts too?

  18. DF says:

    From what I’ve gathered, flaxseed oil has 3,6,9 but it’s not balanced. It’s mostly omega 3 fats that are in it. I’ve been taking Barlean’s omega twin with Flax seed and Borage oil which has alot of omega 6 fatty acid. To get balanced EFA’s, you’re probably going to have to get an oil blend. Udo’s 369 blend is good too. I have very, very dry skin so a 369 blend is essential for me. I’ve noticed that my skin is more plumper and less dry when I take an oil blend that is high lignan.

  19. sesame says:

    Maybe that’s it…cos when I took the flaxseed oil sometime back, I had no issues. But then, I had not acne problems either.

    Is your Omega 3-6-9 from fish?

    For Evening Primrose Oil, I took it for awhile to help with my PMS but after I read that it can cause estrogen dominance, I stopped. I wrote about it here:

  20. sesame says:

    So it’s better to have a balance…hmm…I got to be careful when finding the next omega supplement then. I wanted some omega 3 to help with my brain but figured out that having a combination of 3, 6 and 9 might be better. Unfortunately, I probably need animal based omega.

  21. Jo says:

    I would love to know how you go with trying fish supplement again…

    Hearing all the testosterone stuff is scaring me! cos for some time i used to take grounded flaxseed and i’ve been having acne problem during that time, i can’t rmb how long after i started the flaxseed i then start to get acne.. or not sure if it was even related… but definitely scared me off flaxseed oil, i’m now taking emu oil supplement, i wonder if that’s related too, maybe I should cut down.

    oh apparently the testosterone stuff causing active gland is true, cos it’s the same with milk, i’ve just read this article which i think you’ll be interested:

  22. stiffedneck says:

    And I was thinking of getting flax oil. Good thing that you’re addressing this at the right time. For the last two year, my super duper easy skin has become irritated and acne-prone, so I’m scared of using anything. Even mixture of tea tree oil and emu oil for the last year and half doesn’t help either. Right now I have 7 pimples on my face, on top of some sort of tiny bumps (not milia) across my forehead. Ahhh, I never paid attention to my skin before because it behaved so well and could take anything, so now I’m paranoid and confused about everything hahaha.

  23. sesame says:

    Okay, I’ll keep track if I get started on it.

    The flaxseed oil connection with acne is probably not across the board for all but if you suspect you could be having hormonal imbalance issues, then it’s best to be more cautious.

    Milk is true…in fact most diary products are. I had issues with cheese but not milk cos I took very little of it per day. Anyway, I’ve since stopped consuming milk.

  24. sesame says:

    I heard bumps on forehead is due to insufficient sleep. Not sure if that is true. I read that it could be due to problems in the large intestines. Or maybe the shampoo you use.

    I know how you feel cos that’s what happened to me too – being paranoid about everything I ate and used.

  25. Maggi says:

    It might be causing something that causes something else which if combined with even something else will together cause acne…. simply I mean for example if you take flaxseed oil but have other bad habits in your lifestyle then it may not deliver the real results. Just maybe ?

  26. Maggi says:

    Anyway I use to eat crushed flax seeds by itself, with cottage cheese usually (recommended combination as I read somewhere), but never noticed any change in my acne… I tend to have adult acne – not many but one-two most of the time and I blame it on stress and lack of sleep. So now there’s a new reason lol

  27. sesame says:

    Perhaps. But I’ve been rather cautious with what I eat because of my acne issues. I cut out carbo, refine sugar and process food so I think flaxseed just doesn’t work for me now.

  28. Sue says:

    Cutting out Omega-6 from dairy and vegetable oil will go a long way towards reducing acne. Flax is a fantastic source of nutrients, but as a nutritionist, I see Flax used for the wrong reasons all the time. Most people use it as a source of Omega-3, but Omega-3 from flax is not used very well by the body. For Omega-3, you need fish oil. Here is a link that was posted at another site that I found very useful:

  29. sesame says:

    Oh great! Thanks for shedding some light on this because I’ve been wondering which is better although many have said it’s omega from fish. I’ll have a look at that article soon.

  30. vivavoomz says:

    Your comment/link about EPO got me worried. A month ago, I had terrible eczema flareups and was popping EPO pills at the maximum recommended dosage. Usually i just take one a day. For that one week, I took it three pills a day. After that I had bad breakouts. But it wasn’t only that. My skin was super sensitive. I applied skincare stuff that I wasn’t allergic to and it burned on my skin. Had to wash off everything.

    Now your entry about flaxseed oil really got me wondering whether plant based omega is even fit for consumption.

    (I’m still taking EPO for eczema though. )

    I recalled chiaberry (from cozycot) advise against taking flaxseed and saying fish oil was better too.

  31. sesame says:

    It seems so…my husband who hardly broke out actually had a couple of pimples after taking the flaxseed oil too. So I think it’s not suitable for many pple.

  32. doo says:

    I’ve used all kinds of acne treatments in the past and even accutane. Accutane did work but still had some break outs here and there. Then I started taking udo’s oil blend which I believe has a 2:1:1 ratio of omega 3,6, and 9 and it really helped my skin. I have also took other cheap fish oil pills I bought at Walmart and not sure what the ratio was and it caused me to break out more though so I guess it all depends on the ratio.

  33. sesame says:

    Oh the ratio? I didn’t realize…I was taking Kordel’s Fish Oil and it worked for me.

  34. judy batte says:

    I know I’m way late on this, but I just realized that I have developed milia around my eyes and the only difference is that I started taking Omega 3 capsules daily! I’m going to get the milia removed, will stop the omega, and see if that’s it.

  35. jkbombino says:

    I just started taking flaxseed oil two weeks ago and have been breaking out. I am going to stop now and see if that clears it up. Who knew that it could do that!

  36. sesame says:

    Yup, was unexpected for me too. Try fish oil instead. I had no problems with them.

  37. Mark says:

    im familiar in Omega 3 and this product helps our heart become healthy and fully build but Omega 3 in fish oil all i know is Omega 3 in a fruits i dint know that fish oil have a Omega 3

  38. France says:

    im so curious about flax oil..where can i buy it???

  39. sesame says:

    Where are you located? You should find it at the pharmacy, organic stores or online.

  40. Tara says:

    I’ve experimented with this for some time. Any kind of plant based omega 3’s (Flax, Chia, Salba, Avocados) all give me cystic acne.

    Fish oil clears it up pretty quick.

    Any rational for this?

  41. sesame says:

    If you read my entry, it’s got to do with the hormones. Now, I can’t even take fish oil. It breaks me out too.

  42. natasha says:

    I have been taking flaxseed oil capsules for nesrly 4 motnhs – about 3 weeks after taking it my ibs was amazing hair felt better and in general felt better about my weight and water retention disapeared – however from reading this thread i have realised i have been suffering with sever acne on my jaw line ever since i started these capsules – i have tried everything to get rid of them but nothing works – i am stopping flaxseed from today!

  43. Sesame says:

    It might be due to the flaxseed oil. If your acne stops after you stop taking the capsules, then it’s most likely the culprit. You might want to then try switching to fish oil instead if that’s something you can take.

  44. NATASHA says:


  45. Sesame says:

    It might cos fish oil does help with reducing gut inflammation. I did not break out initially but I did later although it was quite mild.

  46. Camilla says:

    Hi, did you solve your acne problem?
    I do have had breakouts with both fish and flax oil… Even at the best quality. I didn’t understand immediately that those oils were causing my acne, but when I finally stop assuming them, I solved all the problems.
    Camilla last post is: Le due forze

  47. Sesame says:

    I did a detox and that worked for me.

Leave a Reply