taking cbd oil for acne

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CBD for Acne: Things to Know Before You Try

CBD is becoming a popular remedy for a wide range of issues, including common skin disorders like acne.

Acne affects millions of people worldwide. Some figures suggest that the condition affects as much as 9.4% of the global population. Furthermore, acne does not just affect the skin. It can have a severe negative impact on patients’ self-image and confidence – in some cases leading to anxiety and depression. Even once the acne itself has cleared, some patients have scarring, which acts as a lifelong reminder.

Unfortunately, many acne treatments are harsh on the skin or cause other unpleasant side effects. Therefore, many people are turning to other remedies like CBD for acne relief.

What Causes Acne?

People most often associate acne with teenagers, and hormonal changes can indeed be a factor. However, acne can persist into adulthood, and some people experience it for the first time in their 20s or 30s.

The root cause of acne is blocked sebaceous glands in the skin.

The role of the sebaceous glands is to release a substance called sebum. Sebum is a mixture of lipids (fats), and scientists believe it plays a role in protecting the skin.

However, in some people, the skin produces too much sebum, which clogs up the glands. When the sebaceous glands become blocked, dead skin cells and bacteria build up inside. This triggers an inflammatory response, which makes the skin red, swollen, and sore.

Does CBD Help Acne?

Research has shown that CBD could help to relieve acne in several different ways. Firstly, it appears to reduce sebum production in the skin. Secondly, it may help prevent the overgrowth of cells that could clog up the sebaceous glands. Finally, there is some evidence of potential anti-inflammatory properties, meaning it could relieve symptoms such as redness and pain.

The science behind CBD and acne symptoms is in its infancy, and much more research needs to be done.

CBD for Acne: How Does It Work?

CBD exerts many of its effects on the body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is present in most of the body’s tissues. It has a regulatory function, meaning that it maintains a state of balance within the body.

The ECS is involved in everything from movement to mood. It also plays an essential role in maintaining the health of the skin.

The Endocannabinoid System and Skin Health

In the skin, the ECS is responsible for controlling cell development and growth. It also plays a role in inflammation and hormone production. Scientists believe that dysregulation of the ECS could contribute to many common skin disorders. These include psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and scleroderma.

The ECS works by producing chemicals known as endocannabinoids. These can bind with receptors called cannabinoid receptors to trigger numerous different biological reactions. Cannabis compounds such as THC and CBD can also interact with these receptors to have similar effects.

The CB1 receptors that are most prevalent in the brain and nervous system react dramatically with THC. This reaction creates the intoxicating high for which marijuana is most famous. However, the CB2 receptors that are most prevalent in peripheral tissues interact more strongly with CBD. This includes the CB2 receptors in the skin.

When CBD acts on these CB2 receptors, it helps to regulate the ECS in the skin. The CB2 receptors are also where CBD may display some of its potential anti-inflammatory effects. However, CBD also acts outside of the ECS, further enhancing its impact on acne problems.

How CBD Works Outside of the ECS

As well as acting on the ECS, CBD works on something known as TRP channels. TRP stands for transient receptor potential, and these channels play an important role in sensory perception, including pain.

It also appears that TRP channels interact with CBD to contribute to its anti-acne symptom effects. Scientists think that this reaction stops the overgrowth (proliferation) of sebum-producing cells known as sebocytes.

Finally, CBD could have an inhibitory effect on lipid-producing (lipogenic) compounds. These compounds include testosterone and a chemical called linoleic acid. This triple-action (anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferation, anti-lipogenic) makes CBD so promising in the reduction of acne-related issues.

Things to Know Before Trying CBD for Acne

If someone suffering from acne wants to try CBD, there are a few things they need to know first.

The most crucial factor to consider is how to consume the CBD. Traditionally, people use CBD in an oil form. They place a drop or two under the tongue and wait for it to dissolve for 30–60 seconds, then swallow.

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Those seeking to use CBD can also buy it in the form of capsules or edibles. The problem with taking CBD by mouth is that it has to pass through the digestive system and liver before it reaches the skin. This means that much of it gets lost along the way.

Therefore, a better method may include applying CBD directly to the skin itself. Consumers can use a CBD topical that is designed especially for the skin.

Topical products often contain a range of other soothing ingredients in addition to the CBD.

However, some of these products may contain grease or other emollients that could make acne worse. CBD users should exercise caution when using any new item for the first time. Although most people consider CBD safe, there is always a small risk of side effects.

If a person takes CBD by mouth, it could cause tiredness, stomach upset, or changes in appetite. CBD can also interact with many other drugs and medications. These include antidepressants and macrolides, a class of antibiotics that doctors sometimes prescribe for acne.

People can minimize the risk of these side effects and interactions by applying CBD directly to the skin. Even so, they should test it out by trying it on a small area of skin first. Consumers should carefully watch for any reactions such as swelling, itching, or peeling skin. If any individual experiences these symptoms, they should discontinue use immediately.

Choosing a CBD Cream for Acne

Another thing that consumers should be aware of when buying CBD for acne is that the market is currently unregulated. This lack of regulation means that many companies get away with selling low-quality CBD. Some products do not contain as much CBD as they should, and others contain contaminants like pesticides or other toxins.

When choosing a CBD cream for acne, they should look for a well-established company with plenty of positive customer reviews. Most reputable brands publish third-party lab reports on their websites, so customers can be confident about exactly what is in each product.

They may also want to consider whether their CBD is full-spectrum or isolate and how the manufacturers extracted it. There are many ways to extract CBD from hemp or cannabis, and most experts consider CO2 extraction the best.

Finally, consumers should not shop by price. High-quality CBD is expensive, but it can act as an investment in a person’s wellness goals. A benefit of quality CBD is that users typically only need to use a small amount each day. Therefore, products should last for a while.

Weighing in on CBD cream as a …

CBD for Acne: Final Thoughts

CBD may be useful for a variety of acne-related symptoms. It has the potential to reduce inflammation, decrease sebum production, and stop the overgrowth of cells.

Furthermore, CBD is a substance that works in harmony with the body. As such, it should not cause the irritating side effects that traditional acne therapies can.

However, there are a few things to consider before trying CBD for acne. Firstly, consumers will need to find a product that is high-quality and suitable for their skin.

People should also note that most of the existing research on CBD for acne is in its infancy. Studies on real, human subjects are still sadly lacking. Therefore, there is no guarantee that CBD will work, as it impacts each person differently.

Finally, people should talk to a family physician or dermatologist before trying CBD for acne. This is especially important if they use any other medication or topical treatments. They will ensure that CBD is safe and won’t make matters worse in the long run.

Taking cbd oil for acne

By Dagmara Mach on Mar 04, 2021

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been shown to positively affect acne in 4 major ways. These include decreasing oil overproduction, limiting the growth of new oil producing cells, reducing various markers of inflammation, and combating acne-causing bacteria.

Acne is a common skin condition that can cause angry red inflammation, painful blemishes, pimples, and cysts. Research suggests that both oral and topical CBD products can be helpful for treating acne.

This article discusses current CBD and acne research, how CBD elicits its effects, other compounds in hemp oil with research-backed benefits for acne, CBD’s efficacy for other skin problems, directions on how to use CBD for acne, and important takeaways.

Can CBD Oil Treat Acne?

Acne is the most common skin disease in humans and it affects the lives of millions of people around the world.[ 1]

Research evidence supports that CBD oil may be helpful in treating acne as well as various other skin conditions.[ 2] However, because acne can be caused by a variety of triggers, it’s usefulness may vary slightly for each individual.

Acne occurs when excess dirt, oil, and dead skin cells clog pores. This affects healthy cell turnover and leads to overgrowth of the bacteria Cutibacterium acnes ( C. acnes), which has been linked to the establishment of acne for over 100 years.[3]

C. acnes (formerly called Propionibacterium acnes) can build up in the pores causing inflammation as well as painful bumps, pustules, and pimples.

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CBD oil may reduce the amount and severity of acne by regulating sebum or oil production, managing inflammation, and mitigating the acne-related bacteria C. acnes.[2]

How It Works

Traditional acne treatments involve managing oil production, inflammation, and the overgrowth of C. acnes bacteria.

Current research suggests that CBD oil may target all of these.

At least four pathways have been proposed to explain CBD oil’s potential efficacy in treating acne. These include:

1. Reducing sebum or oil overproduction

2. Limiting unwanted sebocyte proliferation

3. Decreasing inflammation markers

4. Managing the bacteria C. acnes

Besides reducing oil production, another desired effect of an anti-acne agent is to reduce the unwanted growth of new oil producing skin cells.[ 4]

A 2014 CBD and acne study found CBD exerted complex anti-inflammatory actions and reduced excessive sebum production by oil making cells known as sebocytes. Researchers also observed that CBD limited the growth of new sebocytes, without causing damaging existing cells.[ 1]

Sebocytes are cells that produce sebum or oil. They have been found to exhibit strong antimicrobial activity, and transport antioxidants to the skin. Sebocyte cells also express pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties.[ 5]

These functions make healthy sebocyte activity critical to protecting our skin from the outside world. Overactive sebocytes, however, can be a problem.

Several experimental models have demonstrated CBD’s anti-inflammatory actions.[ 6] The 2014 study also observed CBD to have anti-inflammatory actions.

Specifically, CBD prevented the elevated expression of TNFA a key inflammatory cytokine in the development of acne.[ 7]

CBD has also been shown to exhibit potent antimicrobial activity against gram positive bacteria like C acnes.[ 8]

While preliminary results point to CBD as a promising acne treatment, human trials are still lacking. For doctors to recommend CBD oil for treatment and prevention of acne, human studies will need to provide direct evidence.

Other Acne Fighting Compounds in Hemp Oil

CBD is just one of the hundreds of therapeutic compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. In fact, some researchers refer to Cannabis sativa as the plant of one thousand and one molecules.[ 9]

Full spectrum hemp oil and hemp seed oil both contain a variety of these active Cannabis compounds.

Full Spectrum Hemp Oil

Unlike CBD isolate which contains only the cannabinoid CBD, full spectrum hemp oil is a whole plant extract. This means full spectrum hemp oil retains hundreds of different bioactive compounds with varied therapeutic properties. These compounds include CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, stillbenes, flavonoids and others.

Full-spectrum hemp oil contains many terpenes that have been shown to have anti-microbial effects against C. acnes.[ 10][11] Research suggests that terpenes found in full-spectrum hemp oil including myrcene, α-pinene, β-caryophyllene, possess significant antimicrobial properties. [12][13]

Studies also suggest that the various Cannabis compounds present in full spectrum hemp oil work together to enhance each other’s desired effects.[ 14] So, a combination of terpenes, cannabinoids and flavonoids will have stronger effects than any of these compounds alone. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect.

Therefore, full spectrum hemp oil may be more effective in treating acne than CBD alone.

Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seed oil is extracted from hemp seeds and also contains a variety of bioactive compounds with various skin benefits and healing properties. Hemp seed oil does not contain CBD.

One study by Jin et al examined the effects of hemp seed extract on Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) induced inflammation and oil production in vitro.

Researchers found that hemp seed extract exhibited anti-microbial activity against C. acnes. The study also showed that hemp seed extract exerted anti-inflammatory effects, regulated oil production, and promoted collagen synthesis.[ 15]

Other Skin Conditions

CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant effects in the body may contribute to its usefulness in the treatment of other skin conditions.

Skin allergies: Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy skin rash caused by contact with an irritant or allergen. One in vitro model of human allergic contact dermatitis showed that CBD exhibited anti-inflammatory properties.[16] This suggests CBD may help reduce the negative effects of allergic skin reactions.

Eczema and psoriasis: CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant effects may be helpful for inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. One 2019 study examined effects of CBD ointment on psoriasis and resulting scars. Researchers concluded that CBD ointment significantly improved skin parameters and symptoms.[17]

Aging and wrinkles: Researchers have found that CBD improves the production of collagen.[18] Studies have found that free radicals and oxidative stress increase collagen breakdown. CBD’s antioxidant effects protect cells from free radicals and are thus thought to be helpful in improving collagen levels. CBD’s antioxidant effects may help reduce the appearance of find lines and wrinkles by supporting collagen production.

How To Use

Topical CBD for acne can be applied directly to the skin whereas CBD tincture can be taken orally for long-term prevention.

For topical use directly on the skin, CBD should be mixed with a carrier oil. For example, our hemp oil face moisturizer blends CBD-rich full spectrum hemp oil with hemp seed oil, jojoba oil, rosehip oil, eucalyptus oil and lavender oil, all of which possess known skin benefits.

Taking CBD oil orally may also help with acne, as its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial compounds remain active when they enter the body.

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A combined whole-body approach of oral and topical CBD oil is likely to be the most effective.

When choosing a CBD skin care product it is important to confirm its actual CBD content.

In 2017, researchers tested 84 different CBD products available to consumers. Of those 84 products, 26% contained less CBD than was advertised on the label.[ 19]

Most reputable CBD skincare companies will provide third-party laboratory test results. You can view ours here.


Acne can be a problem for people of all ages and natural ways to fight acne are a welcome alternative to pharmaceuticals.

Full-spectrum hemp oil, which is rich not only in CBD but also a variety of other cannabinoids and bioactive plant compounds, has a wide array of therapeutic properties that may help reduce acne and improve the appearance of your skin.

Using CBD for acne is most effective as a whole-body approach.

A combination of topical CBD application directly to the skin and internal consumption of CBD oil under the tongue will likely yield the best results.

CBD May Help:

  • Regulate Sebum Production
  • Manage Inflammation
  • Improve Cell Turnover
  • Reduce the Negative Effects of Bacteria, Fungus and Viruses
  • Support Skin Elasticity and Collagen Production

Many variables influence the development of acne, including hormonal imbalances, excess sebum production, inflammation, and genetics. Factors such as diet, exercise, stress, and certain medications can also impact the severity of an individual’s acne symptoms. Thus, although CBD’s benefits are undeniable, an overall healthy lifestyle is critical to maintaining acne-free skin.


[1] Oláh, A., Tóth, B. I., Borbíró, I., Sugawara, K., Szöllõsi, A. G., Czifra, G., . & Bíró, T. (2014). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. The Journal of clinical investigation, 124(9), 3713-3724.

[2] Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Glynn, K., Rajgopal, A., Malik, K., Yim, S., & Stern, N. (2020). Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 13, 927–942.

[3] Tanghetti E. A. (2013). The role of inflammation in the pathology of acne. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 6(9), 27–35.

[4] Kurokawa, I., Danby, F. W., Ju, Q., Wang, X., Xiang, L. F., Xia, L., . & Zouboulis, C. C. (2009). New developments in our understanding of acne pathogenesis and treatment. Experimental dermatology, 18(10), 821-832.

[5] Zouboulis C. C. (2004). Acne and sebaceous gland function. Clinics in dermatology, 22(5), 360–366.

[6] Pisanti, S., Malfitano, A. M., Ciaglia, E., Lamberti, A., Ranieri, R., Cuomo, G., . & Bifulco, M. (2017). Cannabidiol: State of the art and new challenges for therapeutic applications. Pharmacology & therapeutics, 175, 133-150.

[7] Melnik, B. C., & Schmitz, G. (2009). Role of insulin, insulin‐like growth factor‐1, hyperglycaemic food and milk consumption in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris. Experimental dermatology, 18(10), 833-841.

[8] Appendino, G., Gibbons, S., Giana, A., Pagani, A., Grassi, G., Stavri, M., . & Rahman, M. M. (2008). Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: a structure− activity study. Journal of natural products, 71(8), 1427-1430.

[9] Andre, C. M., Hausman, J. F., & Guerriero, G. (2016). Cannabis sativa: The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules. Frontiers in plant science, 7, 19.

[10] Kim, S. S., Baik, J. S., Oh, T. H., Yoon, W. J., Lee, N. H., & Hyun, C. G. (2008). Biological activities of Korean Citrus obovoides and Citrus natsudaidai essential oils against acne-inducing bacteria. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry, 72(10), 2507–2513.

[11] Raman, A., Weir, U., & Bloomfield, S. F. (1995). Antimicrobial effects of tea-tree oil and its major components on Staphylococcus aureus, Staph. epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes. Letters in applied microbiology, 21(4), 242–245.

[12] Brighenti, V., Pellati, F., Steinbach, M., Maran, D., & Benvenuti, S. (2017). Development of a new extraction technique and HPLC method for the analysis of non-psychoactive cannabinoids in fibre-type Cannabis sativa L.(hemp). Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 143, 228-236.

[13] Mediavilla, V., & Steinemann, S. (1997). Essential oil of Cannabis sativa L. strains. J. Int. Hemp Assoc, 4, 80-82.

[14] Russo, E. B., & McPartland, J. M. (2003). Cannabis is more than simply Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Psychopharmacology, 165(4), 431-432.

[15] Jin, S., & Lee, M. Y. (2018). The ameliorative effect of hemp seed hexane extracts on the Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and lipogenesis in sebocytes. PLoS One, 13(8), e0202933.

[16] Petrosino, S., Verde, R., Vaia, M., Allarà, M., Iuvone, T., & Di Marzo, V. (2018). Anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol, a nonpsychotropic cannabinoid, in experimental allergic contact dermatitis. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 365(3), 652-663.

[17] Palmieri, B., Laurino, C., & Vadalà, M. (2019). A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. La Clinica terapeutica, 170(2), e93–e99.

[18] Kogan, N. M., Melamed, E., Wasserman, E., Raphael, B., Breuer, A., Stok, K. S., Sondergaard, R., Escudero, A. V., Baraghithy, S., Attar-Namdar, M., Friedlander-Barenboim, S., Mathavan, N., Isaksson, H., Mechoulam, R., Müller, R., Bajayo, A., Gabet, Y., & Bab, I. (2015). Cannabidiol, a Major Non-Psychotropic Cannabis Constituent Enhances Fracture Healing and Stimulates Lysyl Hydroxylase Activity in Osteoblasts. Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, 30(10), 1905–1913.

[19] Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708–1709.