As a man in my mid-40s, I'm increasingly reminded I need to take better care of my skin. Let's face it, web cameras aren't forgiving. Neither are the UV radiation and free radicals that bombard our skin on a daily basis. Since my acne subsided, my skincare regimen has consisted of "wash it and forget it." Plus a hat, some sunscreen when I go to the beach, and lately a CBD moisturizer.
Upping my skincare game has led me to ask myself "is it a good idea to add CBD to my new skincare routine?" In my own search concerning CBD and skincare, I found answers to many of the most common questions about using CBD in my skincare regimen. Hopefully these answers help you.
Common Questions about CBD and Skin:
- What are the benefits of CBD oil for skincare?
- What skin conditions does CBD help with?
- Are there side effects of CBD oil for skin?
- Can CBD oil help wrinkles?
- Does CBD help skin inflammation?
- Can CBD oil be absorbed through skin?
- Does CBD give you clear skin?
- Is CBD cream good for your face?
- Can CBD cause skin problems?
What are the benefits of CBD oil for skincare?
CBD has well-documented anti-inflammatory effectsCBD has well-known anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body, and it may also “play a role in hydrating the skin," according to Dr. Nima Gharavi, a dermatologist at Cedars-Sinai 7. Further research supports this, demonstrating “substantial anti-inflammatory actions” and finding that cannabidiol mediates and normalizes the expressions of proteins that affect inflammation 4.
CBD helps to balance and control skin oil productionOur skin is the largest organ in our bodies. It has many layers and structures that contain the CB2 encocannabinoid receptor. Topical CBD creams help to target these receptors, which activates your endocannabinoid system. One often-cited research study from 2014 provides compelling evidence that CBD helps regulate the production of oil by promoting balance ("sebostasis") within the skin's systems, limiting the number of oil-producing cells, and reducing overall inflammation levels 4.
CBD helps to fight off bacteria that causes skin disordersCBD seems to demonstrate potent antimicrobial properties against Gram-positive bacteria which cause skin infections and disorders. Cannabinoids can be an effective helper compound when combined with other known antimicrobial agents 1.
CBD has protective factors that help defend against UV radiationTopical application of CBD (in mice) "up-regulated" or increased an enzyme (HMOX1) which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic properties. CBD also increased proliferation with keratinocytes, cells that are associated with wound repair. Furthermore, that same enzyme has been reported to help protect skin from UV-induced oxidation and stress. Research has further demonstrated the cytoprotective activity of CBD against ultraviolet radiation 2.
CBD helps skin through the "Mind-Body Connection"According to Dr. Jennifer Cather, “the mind-body connection is especially relevant to dermatology. There is ample evidence that sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression can adversely impact dermatologic disorders” 2. Many researchers and clinicians have seen promising therapeutic results from treating anxiety and insomnia with cannabinoids. So, by treating the mind, CBD and CBG may also indirectly benefit our skin.
What skin conditions does CBD help with?
A growing number of studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of topical CBD for several skin conditions, including: acne, eczema, psoriasis, and itchy skin. Increasingly, dermatologists are investigating the benefits of adding high-quality, topical CBD to treat these skin conditions.
As Dr. Jeanette Jacknin, MD, told doctors at the American Academy of Dermatologists annual meeting in 2018, patients should be encouraged to use reputable, lab-tested products to aid in treating acne, eczema, psoriasis, and itchy skin. Dr. Jacknin, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Southern California, also encouraged the clinicians to follow their patients’ progress as part of continuing research. Several clinical studies had already demonstrated the effectiveness of CBD in treating such conditions 6.
One study that cannabidiol has potential for treating acne "because of its anti-lipogenic, anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial, properties" 1. Another noted reduction in how we experience itching through "neuroprotection, anti-inflammation, and analgesic actions" 4. As Dr. Jennifer Cather observes, emerging evidence suggests that "cannabinoids are beneficial for dermatological conditions as well as a range of associated conditions including pain, itch, and inflammation" 2.
Are there side effects of CBD oil for skin?
Most likely, very little harm may come to us from applying a CBD beauty product to our skin, says Dr. Nima Gharavi 7. One study involving people who applied topical cannabidiol to their skin lesions twice a day showed improvements without adverse events over three months 2.
Furthermore, steroids and corticosteroids are the go-to treatment for many skin inflammation. These can come with their own side effects—especially when applied to sensitive skin areas such as groin, armpits, and around the eyes. Dr. Gharavi continues that if "CBD can produce the same anti-inflammatory effect as a steroid without the potentially negative side effects, then the use of CBD could be an encouraging new method to treat these skin conditions" 7.
After doing your own research about the manufacturer, find products that work best for your skin. Many topical CBD ointments and creams combine cannabidiol with other botanicals such as willow-bark, arnica, seaweed, calendula, or other flower extracts. Read the labels carefully. And always consult your dermatologist if you experience any irritation, rashes, or allergic reactions while using a skincare product.
Can CBD oil help wrinkles?
Topical CBD can help your skin repair damage sustained from the environment. Collagen and elastin are proteins that help our skin maintain smoothness skin. As we age, our body produces less collagen, leading to a loss of firmness and more visible lines and wrinkles. Our skin also produces less natural oil as we age, negatively impacting skin moisture. This decreases the levels of elastin that help skin regenerate.
The antioxidative properties of cannabidiol can help restore collagen, and the oil-balancing properties can help maintain elastin. Thus, the research regarding CBD and wrinkles looks very promising3.
Does CBD help skin inflammation?
The simple answer is “Yes”. CBD has well-researched anti-inflammatory properties, and many studies demonstrate them 1.
Can CBD oil be absorbed through skin?
Again, the short answer is: YES,5 though this is limited to the receptors in the immediate vicinity of application. Our skin cells have cannabinoid receptors on them, specifically the CB2 receptor which binds with cannabidiol. Cannabinoid receptors can be bound by endogenous ("acting from within") and exogenous ("acting from outside") cannabinoids. Ironically, while we might absorb CBD through the skin, its action doesn't appear to exert effects exogenously. Rather, CBD appears to enhance the effects of endogenous cannabinoids by affecting our metabolism 2.
Does CBD give you clear skin?
As part of a balanced skincare regimen, CBD appears to be a good therapeutic helper in maintaining clear skin, says Dr. Cather. 2 CBD can have a “positive impact” on acne, something many of us struggle with. Dr. Cather notes that topical CBD reduced inflammation, reduced the proliferation of oil-producing cells, and balanced oil production within these cells. These are "promising findings for a novel anti-acne therapy," she continues.
Is CBD cream good for your face?
The research is very encouraging, but the answer depends on your own biology, as well as the ingredients in the topical CBD you've selected. There may be other botanical ingredients in addition to CBD in many face products, so read every label carefully before applying.
Can CBD cause skin problems?
While research shows little to no adverse side effects to topically applied cannabidiol, we can protect ourselves by doing the following:
- research your CBD provider,
- verify that their products have been tested by a third-party laboratory,
- read the ingredients carefully to make sure you aren’t allergic to other ingredients,
- consult a dermatologist immediately if you experience irritation, a rash, or allergic reaction.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with some basic information you need to help you in your own skincare journey. Finding the answers to these questions helped me in my quest to improve my skincare regimen. I've been incorporating CBD oil for several months now, along with moisturizers and sunscreen. So far I'm happy with the results. As always, be sure to consult with your own dermatologist both before you try any new skincare products and throughout the process.
- Baswan, Sudhir M et al. December 2020. “Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders.” Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. doi:10.2147/CCID.S286411
- Cather, Jennifer, MD. July 2020. “CBD in the Holistic Practice of Dermatology.”
- Julia, Nina. May 2022. "CBD Oil for Wrinkles and Anti-Aging: Skin Benefits & How to Use?"
- Oláh, Attila & Toth, Balazs & Borbíró, István & Sugawara, Koji & Szöllõsi, Attila & Czifra, Gabriella & Pal, Balazs & Ambrus, Lídia & Hundt, Jennifer & Camera, Emanuela & Ludovici, Matteo & Picardo, Mauro & Voets, Thomas & Zouboulis, Christos & Paus, Ralf & Biro, Tamás. 2014. "Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes." The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 124. doi 10.1172/JCI64628.
- Panacea Life Sciences. March 2020. "CBD) Absorb through the skin?"
- PracticeUpdate Editorial Team. February 2018. "AAD 2018: Topical Cannabidiol Recommended as Adjunct Treatment for Acne, Eczema, and Psoriasis."
- Turner, Rosana. January 2020. “CBD Products on My Skin?”. Cedar-Sinai Blog.