Acne is an incredibly common skin condition. Though it is often thought to only affect teenagers and adolescents, this condition can continue into adulthood. Not only does acne cause unsightly blemishes, but it can scar the skin and lead to a number of psychological effects including poor self-esteem and anxiety.
While acne is incredibly common and considered normal to experience from time to time, there’s no reason you have to suffer from it. Over-the-counter treatments can help you get your acne under control. You’ll also find a number of alternative therapies that could help – including CBD products. Read on to see our top 5 picks.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural anti-inflammatory compound in the cannabis plant. It is one of over 100 cannabinoid compounds, most highly concentrated in the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) versus the marijuana plant (Cannabis indica). Though related to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid for which marijuana is known, CBD does not get you high.
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC work by influencing the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex cell-signaling system in the bodies of all mammals that helps regulate essential processes and maintain homeostasis or balance in the body. Cannabinoids bind to and modulate certain receptors and, in doing so, trigger a variety of therapeutic effects ranging from anti-inflammatory properties to pain relief.
What is Acne and What Causes It?
Acne vulgaris, typically referred to simply as acne, is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. It affects roughly 80% of teens and adolescents but can affect adults as well. Acne develops when the pores become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, forming a lesion (often called a pimple or zit). For many young adults, acne goes away eventually but some aren’t so lucky.
At the root of this skin condition, acne is the result of clogged pores and bacterial infections that lead to inflammation but there are a number of factors that can increase your risk for developing acne. Hormone fluctuations, family history, and certain medications all play a role. Stress, eating certain foods, friction from tight clothing, and environmental stressors can also trigger breakouts or make them worse.
How Does CBD Work on Acne?
The goal of acne treatment is to help heal existing acne lesions, to stop new lesions from forming, and to prevent scarring of the skin. That’s where CBD skin care products come in. In addition to reducing inflammation, CBD may normalize sebum production which can help you get your acne under control.
In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers found that CBD acts as a highly effective sebostatic agent. CBD may help reduce and regulate oil production in the skin. This study involved administering cannabidiol to human sebocytes to test its potential as a therapeutic agent to treat acne.
In addition to reducing oil production, CBD oil may also help with acne-related scars. In a 2019 study, researchers found that CBD ointment helped patients with inflammatory skin conditions both in reducing inflammation and in reducing the appearance of scars, including acne scars.
How to Use CBD on Acne
When it comes to using CBD for acne, there are a number of different things you can try. Cannabidiol products are typically divided into two categories: topical and edible. Topical treatments are often advisable for skin conditions like acne while oral formulations are typically used for more widespread issues like inflammation or pain.
To use CBD oil for acne scars or breakouts, one of the best options is to find a CBD cream. These products are typically with additional moisturizers like coconut oil and shea butter and can be applied directly to the face. You may also be able to apply CBD oil directly to the skin, but make sure it has been diluted with a carrier oil like hemp seed oil. Pure CBD oil may be too strong.
If you’re looking for daily management of inflammation rather than a spot treatment for acne, oral CBD products like gummies and capsules may be a good option. These come in a wide variety of concentrations, so talk to your doctor about finding the right dosage according to your body weight and the severity of your symptoms.
Side Effects of Using CBD on Acne
If you’re thinking about using CBD oil for acne, it’s important to consider the potential side effects. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any prescription acne treatments made with cannabidiol, but you can still find products over the counter. Just keep in mind that your body may react differently from someone else’s so talk to your doctor about the proper dosage and always start out low to see how your body reacts before increasing.
Generally speaking, cannabidiol is considered safe and well-tolerated. Side effects are typically mild and may include drowsiness, diarrhea, and changes in weight or appetite.
CBD Can Help with Other Skin Conditions
Though acne and psoriasis are two very different skin conditions, inflammation is a component of both. A previously mentioned study found CBD helped resolve inflammatory skin diseases like psoriasis. Another study found that cannabidiol may help reduce the proliferation of keratinocytes in the body. Psoriasis is characterized by hyper-proliferation of keratinocytes, so CBD is promising in this way.
If you suffer from sensitive skin, it could simply be your skin type or it may be that your skin is reacting to something. Though there is no research to support the use of cannabidiol to treat sensitive skin, the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties could help.
Dry, itchy skin is often caused by a condition called atopic dermatitis or eczema. This condition typically causes itchy skin and rashes on the face, behind the knees, on the elbows, and on the hands and feet. Eczema is a chronic issue that cannot be cured but some people go through periods of remission.
There is very limited scientific research regarding the use of CBD for atopic dermatitis, but the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of cannabidiol could certainly help some patients. That being said, Peter Lio, MD founding director of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center, suggests CBD may be a promising treatment for eczema. Not only could it decrease pain, itching, and inflammation but it could help rebuild the skin’s protective barrier.
Again, there is no scientific research regarding the use of cannabidiol to treat wrinkles, but there is some hope. Cannabidiol offers antioxidant properties that could help reduce the visible signs of aging in the skin. Antioxidants counteract the damaging effects of free-radicals and the anti-inflammatory benefits of cannabidiol could help diminish the appearance of wrinkles as well.
How to Find the Best CBD Skin-Care Products?
When shopping for CBD products, it’s important to do your research. Keep in mind that different companies use different types of CBD and one product might work better for your body than another. You may need to do some experimentation to find out how your body responds to different forms of CBD and what dosage it takes to get the desired results.
Look for a company that provides plenty of information about their products including where the CBD comes from as well as details on product development. Many companies use US-derived CBD but it’s really a matter of preference what you choose. Do some research about the difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD to determine which option you’re most comfortable with. Be sure to check for third-party lab test results as well to verify the CBD content of the product as well as its safety.
Frequently Asked Questions
Potentially. Cannabidiol offers anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic properties which could be beneficial for a variety of skin concerns including acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
When it comes to acne, CBD has no specific dosage recommendation. In fact, there are no standard dosages at all. Talk to your doctor about a good starting dose and slowly increase if needed.
Yes, hemp-derived CBD products are legal as long as they contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.