Cannabidiol (CBD) has taken the health world by storm in recent years, and unsurprisingly, it has managed to make its spot as a prominent contender amid the anti-acne regimen. While CBD oils seem promising in caring for acne, it is essential to look into what research has to say to verify the claim and understand the science behind its working principles.
Cannabidiol has been found to reduce redness, inflammation, and decreased sebum production.
Cannabidiol primarily helps to reduce the symptoms associated with acne and is an excellent alternative for those sensitive to typical anti-acne ingredients.
Cannabidiol is still an unregulated ingredient. Further research is required to understand its long-term implications and effects.
Can CBD help people with acne?
We know that acne affects most people at some point in their lifetime, and its effects, such as skin irritation and scarring, can cause emotional and psychosocial distress for many. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-psychoactive ingredient of Cannabis sativa. Studies have shown it to effectively control acne symptoms, such as redness and excessive sebum production.
A lab study extensively researched the effects of CBD on cells producing sebum and treated them with specific "pro-acne" compounds. Researchers found that CBD inhibits excessive sebum production depending on the concentration. Since increased oil production is a significant contributing factor in the formation of acne, this finding is encouraging. In another human study, cannabis seed extracts were found to reduce skin redness, also known as erythema.
The most crucial modality through which CBD has been found to exert its anti-acne effect is suppressing the inflammation associated with oil production. A recent study at the University of Colorado confirmed similar findings. Researchers found that CBD oil could inhibit oil production and exert anti-inflammatory effects, helping manage facial acne. Since the significant role through which CBD exerts its anti-acne influence is by suppressing inflammation, CBD also helps with back and forehead acne. However, further studies are required.
While CBD has not been found to cure acne, it has been found to relieve its symptoms and possibly reduce the severity and duration of the condition. Cannabidiol may also be effective for those sensitive to common anti-acne ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and retinol. While CBD cannot replace the role played by these active ingredients, it is a convenient alternative to prep the skin and control inflammation in its absence.
Which CBD is best for acne?
Two types of CBD products can be used to manage acne. People can use CBD cream/lotion, which involves the external application of the topical onto the affected areas. They can also consume CBD oil directly or in capsules to target the inflammation from within. However, most studies have found the best results with the direct application of CBD on the skin. Depending on needs and suitability, either can be tried in consultation with a healthcare provider.
Users may also come across terms such as broad spectrum and full-spectrum CBD. Broad spectrum CBD has no THC — the psychoactive compound in cannabis hence is preferred. An even better option is CBD isolate which contains only the active compound from the cannabis plant in the carrier oil without the various other forms of cannabinoids.
Using CBD for treating acne
Because topical CBD is more effective, consumers use it more often. While creams are a good option for the face, lotions are a better choice for covering larger areas, such as for back acne.
Users should reapply the product after cleansing the face and removing makeup. This improves its permeability into the skin, relieves pain or itching, and reduces inflammation.
Most CBD products meant to target specific problems such as acne come in well-moisturized formulations. Hence, following up with a moisturizer after applying a CBD product is a personal choice.
Risks of using CBD for acne
There is anecdotal research that has promising results. However, it is crucial to remember that there isn't much research on its long-term use on the skin. Though CBD is safe and well tolerated by most consumers, there are reports of dryness and irritation with certain topical CBD products. Hence, adding only a few new ingredients or actives to treat acne simultaneously is advisable.
Discuss acne treatment stepwise with a healthcare provider. This approach helps to prevent nasty side effects and identify the culprit if it irritates the skin. Furthermore, performing a patch test over the skin is good practice before trying topical CBD for the first time.
Users opting to try CBD oil should consider possible side effects such as dry mouth, diarrhea, drowsiness, and fatigue. Cannabidiol oil is also known to interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, and hence should be taken with other medicines with caution. Also, CBD is legal in most states, but it’s essential to check local laws before purchasing or using CBD products.
All the evidence for CBD as a treatment for acne is promising, but additional information and more human studies are needed. Also, keep in mind that while CBD is generally well-tolerated by most individuals, it is advisable to speak to a healthcare professional before starting a CBD regime. Scientists still need years of research data to fully understand CBD's long-term benefits for acne.
- Journal of Clinical Investigation. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes.
- Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The safety and efficacy of 3% Cannabis seeds extract cream for reduction of human cheek skin sebum and erythema content.
- PloS One. The ameliorative effect of hemp seed hexane extracts on the Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and lipogenesis in sebocytes.
- Dermatology Online Journal. Cannabinoids in dermatology: a scoping review.
- Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders.
- Current Neuropharmacology. Cannabidiol Adverse Effects and Toxicity.