CBD for Acne? Here’s What Science Has to Say

Yo, we know that CBD being touted as the panacea of all panaceas is annoying (and *tbh, inaccurate), but when we started hearing about how it may treat acne, we obviously had to look into that. Because skincare. Like we’re going to look at all this with a critical eye and everything but if there’s even a 10 percent chance that CBD will make our complexions clearer and more even then you can bet your ass we’ll be slathering our pretty little visages with a half-gallon of hemp cream.  

Black and white portrait of a girl shot by Eyre June Bustamante

So, what’s the deal with CBD skincare? There’s obviously a huge boom in the industry, but that could also mean that zillions of fly-by-the-night companies are trying to make serious bank off of a naive but eager market. It’s not to fault the consumers — we’ve all been largely uneducated thanks to insane prohibition for almost a century. And there are tons of credible brands out there making legitimately great products. But it’s important to go into anything that affects your health (including skincare!) with a bit of extra knowledge and some scientific backing. Yeah?

And now you’re probably thinking OK SISTER, DOES CBD MAKE MY ZITS GO AWAY OR NOT, LET’S GET TO IT! And we have a fun answer for you: maybe. Honestly, probably. The evidence looks promising, albeit inconclusive (for now!). 

So far, so good. The studies have shown that CBD could absolutely help with acne not just topically, but even from a systemic standpoint, meaning it could potentially regulate the oily glands that can contribute to breakouts. Truly making you more beautiful from the inside out!

Here’s the deal. Of the limited studies that exist (it’s tough to study because they can’t really test on animals, as acne is a primarily human issue. tight.), the results have been very positive. A 2014 study from the Journal of Clinical Investigation showed that “CBD has potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris.” One part of the study showed CBD “Inhibiting sebocyte lipogenesis” which essentially means it could stop excess oil production in the skin. Sebocytes are what produce sebum, the oily stuff that keeps your skin and hair moisturized — but sebum also creates acne when overproduced. Lipogenesis is the creation of lipids (sebum is a lipid) so “inhibiting sebocyte lipogenesis” = stopping the oil-making cells from making too much oil. Thank you for coming to our TED Talk.

A 2016 study in Experimental Dermatology had similar outcomes, showing that CBD reduced “excessive sebaceous lipid production, reducing proliferation and alleviating inflammation.” Since you attended our TED Talk you know generally what that means now. But the alleviating inflammation — that brings us to our next point. In addition to suppressing those sebocytes and regulating the oil production, CBD is well known and generally proven to reduce inflammation. That 2016 study also noted cannabinoids’ “remarkable anti‐inflammatory actions.” Because acne is partially an inflammation-based “disease” (science’s words, not ours), CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can combat breakouts in this way as well. 

Does this mean you need to apply CBD topically with skincare products, or ingest it to regulate your sebaceous glands? It’s tough to say at this point. Ingesting CBD, whether it’s sublingually, vaporized, or via capsule, can regulate the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body. A 2009 study from Trends in Pharmacological Sciences noted that the ECS could potentially modulate a “multitude of human skin diseases.” It also concluded that transdermal CBD could be applied topically in cream form, but — as we’ve read all too often — more research is needed. The aforementioned 2014 study stated that “it is very important to note that, besides the systemic application, one should keep in mind the possibility of the topical administration.” What does that mean for you? Both ingested/internally administered CBD and topical CBD have the potential to brighten up your beautiful face.

And aside from CBD itself, there’s also hemp seed (or cannabis seed) extract, as found in the Peter Thomas Roth Green ReLeaf cream we tried a while back. Is there anything the seeds can do for blemishes? A 2015 study from Pakistan showed some potential. The hemp seed cream was “well tolerated for the reduction of skin sebum,” and because of how well it worked, it “could be suggested for treatment of acne vulgaris, seborrhea, papules and pustules,” (gross word but ok) “to get attractive facial appearance.” This is literally published in a scientific journal. Anyway.

Hemp seed oil itself is exceptionally moisturizing and rich in omega-3 fatty acids, while staying non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores and contribute to acne, but it’s still hella moisturizing). So worst case scenario, you’re getting a lovely moisturizer with CBD or hemp seed cream. So, it’s not necessarily harmful but you may not see powerful results right away. 

The conclusion? All signs are pointing to …. This could be an incredible acne treatment, but we’re all standing by waiting for science to set the facts straight. Seeing as how CBD has shown to have essentially zero adverse effects so far, there’s a good chance you’re not going to have issues with experimentation. As always, consult your dermatologist and doctor (we’re writers, not doctors pal), and patch test with new products. But it’s looking pretty good — and we think brilliantly clear faces are in our future, with a bit of help from hemp.

 *to be honest

Written by Dominique Astorino

Wellness Expert and Svn Space Podcast Host and Contributing Editor Dominique holds bylines at POPSUGAR, Brit+Co, SHAPE, Svn Space and Huffington Post Wellness covering everything from health, fitness, and nutrition to crystals and CBD.

1 comment

Collaboration or link sharing options?

Hi there,

I’m Frida, Outreach Manager of Noctua Wellness. We provide the best quality hemp-based CBD products.

I saw that you’ve had a few great posts from contributors on your site and would love to put something together for svnspace.com .

In exchange I can give you a do-follow link in my next guest post that is relevant to yours or anything else I can do just let me know.

Speak soon?

Frida Svan August 12, 2021

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