top of page

4 Reasons Acne Formulations Benefit from Polyphenols

Phytochemicals are safe, effective, natural ingredients for healthy skin

Multiple scientific publications address the benefit of polyphenols, a.k.a. phytochemicals, for the treatment of acne and maintenance of healthy vibrant skin. The acne medication market is estimated to hit $13 billion by 2027 1. Formulations that contain natural ingredients or those sourced from plants are in high demand, being preferred over strictly chemical or synthetic-based products.

We’ve conducted a review of research into the science of treating acne with phytochemicals. Both topical applications and oral supplements containing polyphenols demonstrate a significant reduction in acne associated conditions, and in many cases complete elimination of facial blemishes.

The acne medication market is estimated to hit $13 billion by 2027, according to Allied Market Research[1].

The typical approach to acne is based on five treatments:

  1. Local medicines

  2. Oral antibiotics

  3. Oral retinoids

  4. Oral hormonal therapies

  5. Medicinal plants (phytochemical-based cosmeceuticals) and supplements.

Phytochemicals are plant chemical molecules also known as polyphenols. They constitute a large group of organic compounds produced by plants and microorganisms. Phytochemicals are a big reason fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains are so healthy for us not just internally but in dermal applications as well.

Topical applications of phenolic compounds are effective at alleviating acne in part due to anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Recently, many reports have been published on the potential effectiveness of phenolic compounds to prevent or reduce symptoms and shorten the healing time of skin disorders [2-5].

MLG-50™ fulvic trace mineral complex contains an abundance of natural plant polyphenols that have a broad spectrum of biological properties, which are due to their molecular structure. Fulvic acids function across a wide pH spectrum and in both water and oil-based formulas.

#1 Antioxidant Activity

Free Radicals, also known as ROS (Reactive oxygen species), negatively influence some immunological processes and aging, as well as pathophysiological mechanisms leading to skin inflammatory disorders [10].

Our skin is subjected to chemicals in our environment that produce free-radicals – from everyday body care and household products, to mechanical exhaust and so forth. Vitamins E and C are powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals while plant chemicals provide other types of antioxidants that work by:

  1. Inhibiting free-radical formation, trap free-radicals known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and neutralize singlet oxygen molecules.

  2. Reduce the chelated metal ions (which are the catalysts for reactions leading to the formation of ROS).

  3. Phenolic compounds interrupt the cascade of free radical reactions that cause lipid degradation, and they protect the other compounds in cells by their associated antioxidant activity [12-15].

Our skin is well equipped with two crucial means of defense against oxidative stress: antioxidant enzymes (catalase, glutathione peroxidase and peroxide dismutase) and non-enzymatic molecules (vitamins, ubiquinone, glutathione) [16]. However, often our defense system against ROS is insufficient. Doctors and nutritionists recommend we increase the number of natural antioxidants through our diet, by taking supplements, or by topical application. These compounds are safe and more biologically active than synthetic antioxidants [10]. A great benefit of MLG-50™ is that it can be taken both as a supplement or can be applied topically to the skin.

#2 Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Every day, our body is exposed to external factors which cause various types of cell damage, irritation or allergies. The body's reaction is inflammation.

These external irritants prompt secretion of signaling molecules, such as pro-inflammatory cytokines and interleukins, which lead to skin inflammation, and swelling. Polyphenols inhibit pro-inflammatory mediators, neutralize free radicals, ROS, Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS), and thus decrease lipid peroxidation [19, 28].

#3 Antimicrobial Antibacterial Action

Phenolic compounds possess potent antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial activity [22]. Many types of infections, diseases, and conditions including acne, are often treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic which may also kill the natural healthy microflora of the skin and contribute to creating resistant bacterial strains [23].

Recently over 90% of staphylococci, pneumococci and enterococci isolated from serious infections were found to be resistant to antibiotics. Plant chemicals have shown to kill the prevalent bacterial strain Propionibacterium acnes which is part of the acne cycle [35, 37]. The remarkable feature of phytochemicals is they can potentially be used in place of antibiotics, without causing a simultaneous toxic effect on human tissue [27, 29]. MLG-50™ is comprised of a variety of organic acids, flavonoids and terpenoids many of which have proven antimicrobial activity.

#4 Sebum Reduction

We’ve mentioned several ways polyphenols can abate and heal acne. One root cause is an overproduction of sebum, the natural oil produced by our glands. There is promising research showing plant-derived molecules found in green tea reduced sebum excretion by modulating the AMPPK-SREBP-1 signaling pathway that leads to a reduction in inflammation by suppressing other pathways – thus having a positive influence on almost all the pathogenic features of acne.

The Complex Development of Acne vulgaris

Acne typically occurs during adolescence, but often it can persist throughout life and leave permanent scarring. The main factors contributing to acne include:

  1. Hormonal stimulation of sebaceous gland activity.

  2. Excessive development of the protective protein keratin – which prevents normal shedding of dead skin cells, creating a buildup in the pores (hyperkeratinization).

  3. The clogged pores develop anaerobic bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) and subsequent inflammation.

The following properties in medicinal plants are valued [34]:

  1. Anti-bacterial

  2. Anti-inflammatory

  3. Antioxidant

  4. Anti-androgenic

Polyphenol Action Against Acne vulgaris

In our white paper published by Dr. M.K. Williams, PhD, he reviews many published studies isolating phenolic compounds and their effect on reducing and alleviating acne. Polyphenols work because they kill the bacteria from clogged pores, reduce the over-production of sebum, allowing the skin to shed dead cells normally, and by lowering inflammation.

The effect of mixing phenolic compounds in a formula with antibiotics resulted in a synergic action that inhibited antibiotic resistant P. acnes growth. It’s remarkable that science is utilizing plant chemicals, many found in MLG-50™, to combat skin disorders, even wounds. – Dr. M.K. Williams, Ph.D.

Figure 1. The scheme presents the cross-section of the skin structure and the specific influence phenolic compounds (such as those delivered in MLG-50™ based cosmetic formulations) on dermal tissue components. Black arrows indicate the particular component of skin tissue, according to which are listed the main classes of phenolic, effective in prevention or treatment signs of skin-aging. The yellow arrow indicates the direction and the depth of the cosmetic formulation permeability through the skin. The various layers of the skin structure are indicated on the left.


Numerous studies have shown the potent biological activity of polyphenols such as those present in MLG-50™ to possess a significant potential to inhibit acne; hence they are promising molecules for development of new cosmetic formulations.

Phytochemicals, phenolics, and polyphenols are versatile molecules for developing effective skin formulations in a variety of delivery products – cream, paste, oil, lotion, spray, and as an oral supplement. They can augment cleansers, astringents, toners, moisturizers, collagen and elastin stimulators, and antibiotics.

Particular phenolic compounds may act in a specific way. MLG-50™ supplies over thirty organic acids, over seventy trace minerals, and over twenty flavonoid antioxidants. It is a highly stable water extract of prehistoric marine and terrestrial compost mined in the United States. A fulvic acid complex can aid in the absorption of a cosmeceutical formula and potentiate its effectiveness.

2. All other references cited in this blog can be found in our white paper here.

Whether your products fall under the categories of nutraceutical, beverage, functional food, or body-care, fulvic acid may very well be the supplement to set you apart, to truly assist you with helping your customers reach optimal health.

Contact us today for more information.

Disclaimer: Our fulvic products are for supporting overall health by way of supplying minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants, electrolytes, and other micro-nutrients. Our products are NOT meant for the treatment mitigation or prevention of any disease or health ailments.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
bottom of page