CBD and skincare go hand in hand, so it’s no wonder that companies have started to infuse CBD into all sorts of topical products, including creams, gels, lotions, balms, lipsticks, skin serum, and more. CBD is extracted from cannabis plants and then typically infused into a carrier oil such as hemp oil, coconut oil, or olive oil. The said fats enhance the absorption and efficacy of this cannabinoid.
CBD has several health benefits for the skin that result from its interaction with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). By engaging with the cannabinoid receptors of the ECS, it can relieve localized problems such as pain, inflammation, and discomfort — and boost the general health of the skin.
These benefits are backed by scientific research, which suggests that products such as CBD oil may be an effective way to treat an array of skin conditions.
Hemp-derived CBD oil is legal throughout the United States, provided that it contains no more than 0.3% THC, so in this article, we’ll take a closer look at the use of CBD for skincare. We’ll explain the science behind CBD’s positive influence on the skin and provide you with a concise buyer’s guide so that you can always make a well-informed purchase decision.
Benefits of CBD for Skin Care
The research into the benefits of CBD oil for skin health is just developing, but there is already some interesting news for those who would like to experience the skin-revitalizing effects of CBD first hand.
CBD and other cannabinoids are potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Full-spectrum CBD oil — the one made with the whole hemp plant — is also a rich source of other nutrients, such as essential fatty acids, B-complex vitamins, and trace minerals.
The health benefits of CBD for the skin derive from its interaction with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is the main regulatory system in the body that works to maintain an internal balance between all organ systems and their functions; this balance is known as homeostasis. The skin has its own endocannabinoid system consisting of cannabinoid receptors which CBD can modulate.
Most skin disorders result from some kind of imbalance that is manifested through inflammation. CBD can help restore that state of equilibrium through the signaling of the ECS.
Below we cover the most prominent benefits of CBD oil for the skin.
CBD for Skin Inflammation
Skin conditions are caused and further exacerbated by inflammation. Evidence has shown that the endocannabinoid system is engaged in regulating inflammatory responses (1). The research into the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD has shown that CBD oil can be used to prevent and treat a variety of skin conditions as a safer alternative to medications like corticosteroids (2). The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD result from its interaction with the CB2 receptors in the skin’s own ECS. When CBD activates these receptors, they balance the communication between the cells of the immune system, suppressing inflammation and reducing redness and swelling.
CBD Oil for Wrinkles & Aging
CBD is a plant-based nutrient, so it’s not surprising that it has antioxidant properties (3). The antioxidants in CBD topicals can help such products reduce the telltale signs of aging by repairing the damage done by free radicals. As mentioned, CBD is also a potent anti-inflammatory compound, so CBD anti-aging products may reduce the look of inflammation and diminish problems like ruddy tone, wrinkles, and skin dullness.
CBD topicals are often infused with a range of other antioxidants to enhance the health benefits of CBD. There is no such thing as “THE BEST” antioxidant to seek out, so the product choice should be based on finding the most effective combination of antioxidants in order to maximize their therapeutic potential.
CBD Oil for Acne
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition. Although it can be caused by many factors, using anything that has anti-inflammatory properties has a chance to reduce acne-related breakouts and redness.
As mentioned earlier, multiple studies have found that CBD oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties when applied to the skin. Therefore, people with acne-prone skin may benefit from the regular use of CBD for the skin to prevent breakouts.
Researchers have also found that CBD can reduce excess sebum production due to its balancing effects on the ECS. Nevertheless, more clinical trials are needed to confirm the preclinical findings on relevant populations (4).
Studies on CBD and Skin Problems
Most skin disorders aren’t life-threatening. However, they can negatively affect the way patients look at themselves, as well as their overall quality of life.
Skin disorders have a profound impact on our self-confidence. Some people develop avoidance-coping mechanisms even when they aren’t suffering from any skin condition at the time.
In one study, the authors concluded that people with skin disorders have lower-than-average self-esteem and psychological functioning compared to healthy subjects. These people were also prone to suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, and had a higher frequency of suicidal thoughts.
A 2019 study revealed that CBD helps the body maintain the internal homeostasis of the skin. The researchers also pointed out CBD as the potential support for barrier formation and skin cell regeneration (5).
Studies have also highlighted CBD as a potential therapeutic agent for conditions such as acne, psoriasis, hair loss, keratin disorders, scleroderma, atopic dermatitis, itching, tumors, and pigmentation issues.
Another 2019 study, which analyzed the efficacy of CBD-infused cream as a topical treatment, found that CBD is safe and non-invasive, especially for people with sensitive skin and those suffering from inflammatory skin disorders (6).
What Skin Conditions Does CBD Oil Work for?
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential of CBD allows it to tackle problems with inflamed and irritated skin without the side effects associated with pharmaceutical skin care treatments.
Dr. Awais Spall, a chemist and cannabis researcher specializing in skincare, claims that CBD is the next novel treatment for a wide range of skin conditions.
“Many people dealing with rosacea and eczema have found CBD to be helpful in stopping the inflammatory cascade of itching and dryness. CBD can also be effective in moisturizing dry skin, improving cell regeneration by upregulating cell-turnover, and reduce pain and itching by easing inflammatory nerve pathways known as transient receptor potentials.”
According to the current research, CBD may help with the following skin disorders:
- Atopic dermatitis
- Seborrheic dermatitis
Can CBD Be Absorbed Through the Skin?
Yes, this is actually how CBD can produce its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Dr. Spall explains that CBD’s balancing and protective properties primarily stem from its relationship with the endocannabinoid system and cross-engagement of these paths with several other receptors in the body.
“We’ve recently discovered that the outer layer of our skin, the epidermis, has a dense network of CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD interacts with these pathways and other nerve channels across the epidermis and dermis,” continues Awais.
When you use a CBD topical, the CBD interacts with the outer layer of the skin, penetrating it to reach the CB2 receptors and modulate the activity of the endocannabinoid system. This, in turn, results in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and painkilling effects.
Now that we’ve established how CBD works to alleviate different skin disorders, let’s focus on the most effective ways to use it.
How to Use CBD for Skin Care
There’s a myriad of CBD products you can choose from for skincare. Choosing the right form depends on how you want to approach your skin disorder.
Use CBD Topically for Skin
If you want to help with localized problems or treat your skin from the outside, CBD topicals such as creams and lotions will be your best option. The topical application causes CBD to interact with the skin’s endocannabinoid system, especially with the CB2 receptors, providing relief from inflammation, pain, and other symptoms.
Use CBD Orally for Skin
When your skin problem derives from inflammation or imbalances within the body, you may want to opt for products such as CBD oil, capsules, or edibles. Some people also vape CBD since this method delivers the highest concentrations of CBD to the body. For example, one mom from the UK allegedly healed herself from eczema using CBD vape pens daily
CBD oil has relatively high bioavailability and ensures fast effects — they usually appear within 15–30 minutes after ingestion — but not everybody is a fan of the natural, earthy taste of full-spectrum CBD. If that’s your story, consider capsules or edibles (e.g. CBD gummies). Their effects will need more time to kick (40–90 minutes) but they last longer than CBD oil or vapes — up to 10 hours.
When to Use CBD Topically vs. Orally
|Topical CBD Uses||Internal CBD Uses|
How to Find the Right CBD Product for Skin Care
With so many companies claiming to sell “the best CBD products for skincare,” it’s important to do your research when it comes to the factors that can make or break the quality of CBD oils and topicals. There are a few tips we’d like to share with you to ensure that you’ll make a well thought out decision:
- Read labels carefully – The only INCI-compliant name for CBD is “cannabidiol,” not hemp seed oil, hemp oil, or hemp extract.
- Seek out reputable companies – trustworthy brands selling CBD products for skin list the CBD potency in milligrams, adding dosage recommendations. Although there is no universal CBD dosage that would work for everyone, it’s a nice nod toward the customer and a clear sign that the company knows its product.
- Look for Certificates of Analysis (COA) – only purchase from companies that provide third-party lab testing reports for their products. Independent laboratories analyze the ingredients in CBD oil, its potency, and purity to make sure it doesn’t contain any dangerous additives.
- Buy CBD topicals in stable containers – don’t buy products that are packed in clear jars, transparent bottles, or any containers that expose CBD to air and light. These two factors cause CBD to degrade and lose potency.
- Opt for full-spectrum CBD – if a product is labeled as ‘full-spectrum,’ it means it was made using the entire plant and thus evokes synergistic effects of all the compounds naturally found in hemp. Simply put, the minor compounds in CBD oil, such as other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils enhance the effectiveness of CBD by boosting its health benefits. If you’re afraid of taking any traces of THC in your product, you can look for CBD oil and topicals made with broad-spectrum CBD or isolate.
Does CBD Work for Pet Skin Problems?
All mammals have an endocannabinoid system that works, in the same manner, no matter the species. According to a study on mice, CBD can support the body in reducing allergic inflammation. The study has also noted that CBD has neuroprotective properties and supports the functioning of the endocannabinoid system.
If you’re considering the use of CBD for your pet’s skin, consult the idea with a veterinarian who knows a lot about CBD products. Doing so will help you establish the right routine and avoid potential interaction with medications.
Summarizing the use of CBD for Skin
Skin disorders can negatively affect the quality of one’s life, as well as their self-confidence and the way they perceive their future.
Multiple studies have shown that CBD can help alleviate a wide range of skin disorders without any side effects.
Therefore, we can safely assume that one may safely add CBD to their skincare routine with no health concerns. Aside from reducing inflammation and moisturizing the skin, CBD can improve its regeneration by stimulating the formation of new, healthy skin cells.
However, more clinical studies are needed to determine the efficacy of CBD for specific skin conditions. As more people use CBD to relieve skin disorders, scientists will have more opportunities to collect qualitative data and rule out dosage recommendations based on further research.
Do you use CBD for skincare? Does it help you with a particular skin disorder, or do you use it for sheer prevention?
- Witkamp, Renger, and Jocelijn Meijerink. “The endocannabinoid system: an emerging key player in inflammation.” Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care vol. 17,2 (2014): 130-8. doi:10.1097/MCO.0000000000000027
- Nagarkatti, Prakash et al. “Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs.” Future medicinal chemistry vol. 1,7 (2009): 1333-49. doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93
- Atalay, Sinemyiz et al. “Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol.” Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 9,1 21. 25 Dec. 2019, doi:10.3390/antiox9010021
- Oláh, Attila et al. “Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes.” The Journal of clinical investigation vol. 124,9 (2014): 3713-24. doi:10.1172/JCI64628
- Tóth, Kinga Fanni et al. “Cannabinoid Signaling in the Skin: Therapeutic Potential of the “C(ut)annabinoid” System.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 24,5 918. 6 Mar. 2019, doi:10.3390/molecules24050918
- Palmieri, B et al. “A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars.” La Clinica terapeutica vol. 170,2 (2019): e93-e99. doi:10.7417/CT.2019.2116