Cosmetic Medicine / Plastic Surgery Dermatology

CBD for acne: Does it work?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a natural compound present in the Cannabis sativa plant. It is only one of over 100 compounds in cannabis, but it has many potential health benefits. Can CBD oil also treat acne?

Acne can be a source of irritation for people of all ages, and new natural ways to fight acne are always welcome.

There is some evidence to suggest that CBD oil can be beneficial for acne and other skin conditions. Some people apply CBD topically to the breakouts themselves, while others take it orally for long-term prevention.

Can CBD oil treat acne?

Woman in front of bathroom mirror applying CBD oil or moisturizer to her face to treat acne
CBD oil may help prevent acne breakouts.

There is some evidence to suggest that CBD oil may be helpful for acne. What that means may vary slightly in each case, based on what kind of acne a person has and what is causing it.

CBD oil may help reduce various types of acne thanks to its ability to adjust how the body creates sebum. Sebum is a waxy, oily substance the skin makes. CBD oil also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Acne is the most common skin condition in humans. Most people deal with acne at some point in their lives, be it occasionally or on a daily basis

Sebum helps protect our skin from the outside world. However, it can mix with dead skin cells, dirt, or other pollutants and become trapped inside a pore. This clogged pore then becomes acne.

Many factors influence acne, including excess sebum production, hormonal imbalances, and genetics. Some other factors, such as diet, stress levels, and some medications, may also increase the severity of a person’s symptoms.

A 2014 study explored the effects of CBD on human sebocytes, which are the cells that create sebum. The researchers found that the CBD prevented these cells from creating too much of the oily sebum.

They also revealed that the CBD oil triggered an anti-inflammatory reaction in the cells and prevented inflammatory cytokines from activating. Cytokines may trigger acne, so reducing them may help prevent further breakouts.

A 2016 review of the cannabis plant highlighted its antibacterial and antifungal effects. These effects may help reduce infections from dirt and other pollutants on the skin.

While the initial results from these studies are promising, human trials are still lacking. For doctors to recommend CBD oil or cannabis products as part of an anti-acne skincare routine, studies in humans will need to provide direct evidence.

How to use

To use CBD oil on the skin, simply mix it with a carrier oil and apply it directly. It is important to start by using a carrier oil that works with the person’s skin. Carrier oils include:

Taking oral CBD may also help with acne in some cases, as the anti-inflammatory compounds are still active when they enter the body.

However, studies exploring CBD and the skin have applied CBD directly to the sebum-creating cells of the skin, so topical application may be best.

There are also many topical products containing CBD available for purchase online. However, people should check the other ingredients in the product to avoid exposure to harsh or irritating ingredients.

It is also vital to ensure that the distributor has conducted third-party laboratory tests to confirm the product’s CBD content.

In 2017, researchers tested 84 different consumer products containing CBD and found that 26 percent of them contained less CBD than the label suggested.

Other products also contained other compounds, such as tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Although it is unlikely to cause a “high” if a person applies it topically, it might be important to watch out for if people have sensitive skin or undergo regular drug tests.

CBD for other skin problems

Hand holding dropper with essential oil
A person can mix CBD oil with a carrier oil to treat acne and sensitive skin.

CBD may also help a person manage other skin conditions due to its anti-inflammatory properties. CBD also has an antioxidant effect in the body, which may also be helpful for other skin problems.

Eczema and psoriasis: The anti-inflammatory compound may help reduce potential triggers of eczema and psoriasis in some people. CBD may also help balance the immune system, which influences these conditions. However, more direct research is necessary.

Sensitive skin: These same benefits may help soothe sensitive skin and reduce the appearance of general irritation. However, people should be cautious about any added ingredients, as these may irritate sensitive skin.

Aging and wrinkles: CBD has an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect, which may promote overall skin health and reduce age lines and wrinkles. However, there are many other antioxidants, such as those in vitamin E and fruits, that are more accessible than CBD oil.

Takeaway

There is some evidence to suggest that CBD oil may help treat acne. The compound acts directly on the cells that make sebum, which can help balance oil production and reduce inflammation.

However, more direct research in humans can help give these claims a solid backing. Anyone curious about using CBD oil should speak to a skincare specialist.

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