It’s embarrassing, and it’s often painful, but it’s something that almost everyone will experience at one time or another. No, we’re not talking about that superhero movie that flopped at the box office. We’re talking about acne.
CBD is one of the latest big trends in skincare. And these new products often make amazing promises, claiming to deliver youthful, glowing, blemish-free skin. But can you really use CBD for acne?
Read on to learn why CBD oil might actually be able to help treat — or even prevent — that next breakout, and get some advice on how to pick a high-quality CBD skincare product.
About CBD Oil for Acne
CBD-infused products will leave you with clear, glowing skin.
Under experimental conditions, CBD does help with some of the causes of acne.
Just the Facts
CBD might be able to help treat acne, but researchers have not yet conducted clinical trials to determine its efficacy.
Eighty percent of people between 11 and 30 years of age have experienced at least one breakout in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health. But if you ask us, even that number seems too low.
Acne happens when oil and dead skin cells clog the hair follicles in the skin. Then, bacteria can cause inflammation and infection, making the acne more severe. The result? A variety of different blemishes may form, including whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and cysts.
Acne isn’t dangerous, but it’s often painful, embarrassing, and can leave lasting scars.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the main causes of acne are pressure or oily substances on the skin, hormonal changes, stress, and even genetics.
With so many possible causes, acne is sometimes difficult to treat. Furthermore, treatments can come with undesirable side effects, from scarring to antibiotic resistance.
About Using CBD Oil for Acne
CBD is short for cannabidiol, and it is one of the most common members of a group of cannabis-derived substances known as cannabinoids.
This huge spectrum of applications is due to the fact that cannabinoids interact with a system of chemicals and receptors in the body: the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoid receptors exist in tissues throughout the body, including the organs, immune cells, and in the skin.
CBD in particular has a few properties that give it a lot of potential for helping to treat acne.
It’s an Antioxidant
Free radicals are unstable molecules that the body produces naturally, and they can damage cells if they build up too much. Scientists call this buildup oxidative stress, and it can play a role in everything from aging to illnesses like cancer. And if that isn’t enough, a recent study found that free radicals may also contribute to acne.
Antioxidants like Vitamin C or Vitamin E halt oxidative stress by stabilizing free radicals. And studies show that we can add a new substance to our list of antioxidant ingredients: CBD.
CBD may help with inflammation
The body responds to infection or injury in a variety of ways, and one of them is inflammation. The redness, swelling, and pain that can accompany acne are all part of this immune response.
For years, scientists have known that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, and have been studying its applications for everything from fibrosis to intestinal inflammation. With such a wide range of anti-inflammatory applications, it’s reasonable to think that CBD could also help with the inflammation associated with acne.
CBD has antibacterial properties
Bacteria are on the list of the main culprits behind acne, and it just happens that CBD may be able to help with that, too.
CBD’s antibacterial properties are so powerful, that it’s being studied as a possible treatment for superbugs like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
CBD could stop your skin’s overactive oil production
Finally, one of the most promising ways that CBD may help treat acne is by regulating the production of sebum.
Sebaceous glands throughout the skin produce this oily, waxy substance. It’s the stuff that accumulates, along with dead skin cells, in hair follicles. CBD helps to keep the skin from producing too much sebum, reducing the likelihood that acne will develop.
Research Highlights: CBD’s Triple Anti-Acne Profile
One 2014 study published in the Journal for Clinical Investigation showed promising results for CBD oil for acne.
It specifically looked at CBD as a “promising, cost-effective, and, likely, well-tolerated new strategy for treating acne.”
The researchers found that CBD has a “triple anti-acne profile,” interacting with cells in three different ways to prevent acne. And unlike the most effective anti-acne drugs on the market, CBD doesn’t have serious side effects.
The researchers noted that ingesting CBD might not result in a high enough concentration in the body to be effective against acne. They proposed that topical applications could deliver the cannabinoid directly to the location where it is needed, though.
Ultimately, they called for further research and clinical trials to determine the efficacy of using CBD for acne, as well as to find the best delivery methods.
Choosing a CBD Skincare Product for Acne
If you want to try a skincare product that incorporates CBD oil for acne, there are few things that you should look for.
1. Does it contain CBD oil?
First, check the ingredients to make sure the product you’re considering contains CBD oil. If you don’t see CBD or cannabidiol listed as an ingredient, check for terms like “full spectrum hemp extract” or “phytocannabinoid rich hemp oil.”
If the only hemp or cannabis ingredient in the product is “cannabis sativa seed oil,” you’re probably not looking at a CBD product at all. That’s just a fancy way of saying “hemp seed oil.”
And while hemp seed oil (or cannabis sativa seed oil) may be great for your skin, it’s not the same thing as CBD oil.
That’s because CBD is mainly produced in the cannabis plant’s flowers, and to a lesser extent, in its stalks, stems, and leaves. The seeds do not contain cannabinoids like CBD or THC, which is why you can find them in health food store bulk bins around the country.
2. It is formulated to help with acne?
The second thing you should do when looking for the best CBD skincare is check the other ingredients. Does it contain coconut oil, which some people find clogs pores?
Is it intended for use as an acne treatment, or does it have other applications like moisturizing dry skin? Does the product contain essential oils that could benefit or irritate your skin?
3. Is the company using high-quality hemp?
Hemp is a bioaccumulator that absorbs whatever is in the soil where it’s grown. If it’s grown using organic practices, that’s not a problem.
But if a farmer plants hemp in polluted soil, the hemp will absorb contaminants like pesticides or heavy metals. And when the CBD is extracted, all of that junk that you don’t want to slather all over your skin can still be lurking in that final product.
You can find high quality CBD products by looking for companies that are transparent about where they get their hemp. Look for organic certification (a handful of companies have it) or third-party lab results for the final products. These lab results may show everything from cannabinoid potency to pesticides and microbes. Look for companies that are willing to disclose what is in their products, and that offer extensive test results for every batch of every product.
Finally, if you are experiencing severe acne, consult your dermatologist before adding CBD to your skincare regimen. They may be able to help you determine the causes of your breakouts, and that will help you make an educated decision about whether CBD skincare products are right for you.
Concerns About Using CBD for Acne
If you’re thinking about using CBD oil for acne, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.
When taken orally, it’s possible that CBD may interact with other medications. That’s because the group of liver enzymes that metabolizes CBD is also responsible for breaking down many common pharmaceuticals. As a result, the effects (and side effects) of your medication may feel greater or less than normal.
That’s the main reason why we always recommend talking to your doctor before you start using CBD to treat any condition, especially if you’re already taking other medications.
The risk of drug interactions is probably less of a concern when using topical CBD products, but it’s still something that you should be aware of. And if you’re using other medications that are applied topically, they could interact with CBD or the other ingredients in your CBD product.