Can CBD Help Treat Acne? - Better Nutrition

Most prevalent among teenagers, acne is most often caused by hormonal changes, notably increases in androgen hormones during puberty. But it can also strike later in life as a result of hormonal shifts, as a side effect of some medications, or for other less-understood reasons.

CBD is unlike medications, which generally address one specific contributing factor. Antibiotics, for example, target bacteria. Instead, CBD seems to modulate and help restore balance, providing a multifaceted therapy for acne triggers and contributors.

Did You Know?

The skin has its own endocannabinoid system, and one of its functions is to regulate oil production.

What Causes Acne?

Most of the pores in your skin contain hair follicles, with the palms of the hands and soles of the feet being the main exceptions. Your pores also contain glands that produce a specific type of oil: sebum. It’s essential for lubricating the skin, but when the process malfunctions, acne can be the result.

Picture a microscopic shaft with a hair growing out of it. Lubricating oil is produced at the bottom and travels upward, around the hair, to the surface, where it keeps skin supple and soft. But the shaft can get plugged—often as a result of too much oil production stimulated by hormonal changes. The trapped oil gets inflamed and accumulates bacteria, dead skin cells, and other debris, and erupts as a pimple.

How CBD Clears Up Skin

CBD is known to act on the endo-cannabinoid system by balancing the molecules that your body makes to regulate your nervous, immune, and other systems. For example, in the nervous system, endocannabinoids help to keep the stress response in balance.

In a perfect world, you would make enough endocannabinoids to keep your body in harmony, but that doesn’t always happen. CBD contains cannabinoids that act in a similar way to balance the human body’s internal systems.

The skin has its own endocannabinoid system, and one of its functions is regulating oil production in pores. Research with human skin cells shows that CBD regulates oil production and can help normalize it when it becomes excessive. This addresses a basic trigger of acne. CBD is also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.

Altogether, CBD has the potential to counteract the effects of the various triggers of acne, such as hormonal shifts, medication side effects, and dietary triggers.

Other Benefits of CBD

CBD may also help reduce acne scars. One study tested a CBD ointment on people with psoriasis or dermatitis, or scars resulting from these conditions. It found that using the ointment twice daily for three months improved skin without causing side effects.

The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD oil may also have a soothing effect on skin. And this, in theory, could help prevent redness and skin disorders and slow down wrinkles.

How to Choose CBD Products for Skin Health

Taking CBD oil internally helps to balance the endocannabinoid system overall and may help to resolve skin problems. But so far, preliminary research relating to the skin has mainly looked at topical applications of CBD.

In skincare products, CBD may be combined with some type of carrier oil, such as coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, or shea butter, and may also contain additional ingredients. When choosing a product, keep in mind that ingredients other than CBD may affect your skin, so if you have any known sensitivities, choose accordingly. And if you’re trying to treat acne or another skin condition, look for a product that is formulated for that purpose.


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Oláh, Attila & Toth, Balazs & Borbíró, István & Sugawara, Koji & Szöllõsi, Attila & Czifra, Gabriella & Pal, Balazs & Ambrus, Lídia & Kloepper, 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. 10.1172/JCI64628. 

Mayo Clinic. Acne. Retrieved from:

Palmer, Angela. (2019, September 25). What Are Pores and How Do They Contribute to Acne? Retrieved from:

Palmieri, Beniamino & Laurino, Carmen & vadalà, Maria. (2019). A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. La Clinica terapeutica. 170. e93-e99. 10.7417/CT.2019.2116. 

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