Board certified female plastic surgeon Dr. Emily Kirby answers the top CBD skincare questions she gets from her Fort Worth patients. Therapeutic CBD Balm really helped clear my skin of acne. The results came just a few days after the first use ob the balm. As CBD oil-laced products continue to take over, we consulted three dermatologists to get the scoop on the benefits of CBD oil for acne. See inside.
Can CBD Improve Acne? A Plastic Surgeon Weighs In.
If you are tuned into the beauty and health world, chances are you have heard of CBD. This compound has recently gained popularity as a wonder drug, touted for its ability to improve everything from epilepsy and insomnia to mental health disorders and even skin conditions, like acne. While CBD oil does appear to offer promising benefits to some acne sufferers, I feel it is important as a physician to take a research-based approach to verifying this claim.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-psychoactive portion of the cannabis sativa plant, which produces both marijuana and hemp. Unlike the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not produce an altered mental state in its users. CBD is available in many forms, including tinctures, salves, edibles, smokeable flower, and, now, skincare products.
Hemp seed oil vs. hemp oil
When looking for CBD skincare products, you will likely see some that contain hemp oil and others that list hemp seed oil. While both of these oils may provide benefits, there are some important differences to keep in mind:
- Hemp seed oil is harvested by cold-pressing hemp seeds. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, making it a popular skincare product and dietary supplement. However, hemp seed oil does not contain CBD or THC.
- Hemp oil, also referred to as CBD oil, is extracted from the whole cannabis sativa plant (not just its seeds), and therefore contains more plant compounds, including CBD.
Can CBD treat acne?
One of CBD’s most noted benefits is its ability to reduce inflammation, as supported by a 2017 review published in the Pharmacology & Therapeutics journal. Typically it is sold in a topical salve to relieve sore muscles and arthritic joints, but the same anti-inflammatory effects may be applied to improving acne.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that CBD was effective at reducing sebum production in humans. Sebum is an oily, waxy substance produced by skin’s sebaceous glands that can lead to acne when it is overproduced. The study’s researchers also found CBD to have “remarkable” antibacterial activity, which is key to fighting acne.
These benefits, combined with CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, may make it a powerful ingredient in alleviating acne. However, it is important to remember that significantly more research still needs to be conducted to determine precisely what effect CBD has on acne and what side effects may occur.
It is difficult to know which of CBD’s compounds will benefit your skin and which could worsen the very conditions you wish to improve.
Broad spectrum vs. full spectrum CBD
To add another piece to the CBD puzzle, CBD products are either labelled “broad spectrum” or “full spectrum.” Full-spectrum CBD oil contains a trace amount of THC (less than 0.3%), while broad spectrum CBD has no THC at all. These products each contain different plant compounds and extracts, which all affect the skin differently.
Since research into CBD is still in its early stages, it is difficult to know which plant compounds will benefit your skin and which could worsen the very conditions you wish to improve. For example, while one cannabinoid might be good for inflammation, another might increase oil production. Due to this ambiguity, I advise sticking to medical-grade, physician-prescribed skincare products that have a proven track record, which I discuss below.
Is CBD legal in Texas?
In summer of 2019, Governor Greg Abbot signed a bill making hemp products legal in Texas. Since hemp contains CBD, this law legalized CBD products.
What is the legal limit for THC in CBD products?
By definition, hemp contains 0.3% or less of THC, which is the legal THC limit for CBD products in Texas. However, just because CBD is legal does not mean it is safe.
Is CBD safe?
Many people consider CBD to be generally safe, but there are a few reasons to be wary of the product:
- CBD is unregulated. None of CBD’s medical or health claims are recognized by the Food and Drug Administration. (Only one CBD product has been approved by the FDA—a prescription drug used to treat seizures.) The CBD industry has been referred to as the “Wild West” of herbal supplementation because it is so new and unregulated, with laws trying to keep pace with product marketing.
- CBD may contain THC. Although CBD is often advertised as having no THC, some brands have tested positive for the psychoactive compound in studies.
- CBD can interact with other medications. From antidepressants to herbal supplements, CBD may affect other drugs you are currently taking.
If you choose to purchase CBD, make sure it has been tested by a reputable third party and publishes its THC content on its label. Also, avoid products that say they “cure” or “treat” any health concerns, as CBD products are not legally allowed to make these claims.
The CBD industry has been referred to as the ‘Wild West’ of herbal supplementation because it is so new and unregulated.
Medical-grade skincare products are proven to help acne
Because research on CBD is so limited, I recommend choosing skincare products with ingredients known to be safe and effective at treating acne, such as those found in medical-grade skincare products. Medical-grade products are thoroughly tested and contain active ingredients that are far more potent than those found in over-the-counter alternatives, yet are still gentle enough to nourish irritated skin.
Medical-grade acne treatment in Fort Worth, Texas
At Kalos Medical Spa, we offer premium medical-grade skincare products, including brands like SkinCeuticals®, Babor®, NeoCutis®, and iS Clinical®. These products contain medical-grade, physician-recommended ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and peptides, proven to nourish and protect sensitive skin. Whether you would like to soothe irritated skin, reduce inflammation, or hydrate dull skin, our professional staff can help you find just the right skincare products to meet your needs. Contact my office online or call (817) 292-4200 to schedule your personal skincare consultation.
Interview – CBD oil cleared my skin of acne
A few days ago we received a message on Facebook with a photo attached. It was sent by Anna, a young woman who has been struggling unsuccessfully with a severe form of acne for the past two years. She agreed to do a short interview. Read more about her experience in the interview below.
Interview – CBD oil cleared my skin of acne
Ana, when did you first encounter acne?
I started noticing breakouts after I stopped taking birth control pills. My skin became really bad, especially on my cheeks and chin. I had some problems with acne in puberty but it was never so acute as now.
How did you deal with acne at first?
I first started searching for natural methods and “recipes” online. But the problem was that there were so many different tips and routines for fighting acne that I no longer knew what to believe, what to try, and what would really work for me.
At the same time, I started working on improving my diet. Through reading various sources it became clear to me that the skin reflects internal imbalances. So I first changed my eating habits by avoiding meat, milk and dairy products, white sugar, and canned and fried foods. Now I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, legumes, cereals, carbohydrates and nuts.
Have you been to see a dermatologist for your acne problems?
I haven’t been to see a specialist about my acne problems because I was convinced that prescription medication would harm my skin even more. I wanted to fight my acne naturally. However, in winter my skin became so bad that it started to seriously affect my confidence, so I decided to visit my family doctor. Several blood tests showed that my body was in great condition and that there is nothing out of the ordinary.
Did the doctor prescribe you any special treatments – if so, what?
The doctor prescribed two different acne creams. One was an antibiotic cream, the other was based on Adapelene.
How did your skin react to the treatment? Was it effective, and did you notice any side effects?
As I thought, neither of the creams the doctor prescribed worked for me. In fact, it was the opposite – my acne became worse and my skin became very dry, it was literally peeling off my face. The doctor suggested another medicine but I decided to bring an end to that chapter and again started looking for natural solutions.
Did you find a natural solution that worked?
I tried so many different approaches that I can’t even remember them all. Among others, I tried to treat my skin with tea tree essential oil, clay masks, black soap, calendula ointment, lemon juice. None of them really worked.
Where did you first find out about CBD therapy for acne?
I was introduced to the healing powers of CBD oil at the natural cosmetics fair in Ljubljana. I picked up a brochure about CBD oil for different skin problems and some samples of CBD ointments. I started using the Therapeutic CBD balm that same night, however, the amount in the sample bag was probably too little to produce concrete results. But I did notice a slight improvement in my skin so I started to browse your website in order to find the best CBD product for my acne problems. Due to the relatively high prices of the products I hesitated about placing orders for quite some time. Then my boyfriend convinced me to order two products: Balancing face cream and 5% CBD oil.
How did your skin respond to the treatment with CBD oil?
The first signifcant difference was that the side effects of the medication I had previously been taking gradually disappeared. My skin started to look and feel healthier soon after I started using the new products. Then I started to notice my acne was slowly disappearing.
Have you noticed any side effects?
How long have you been using Balancing face cream combined with CBD oil and what are the results?
I’ve been using the products for two months now. After cleansing my skin I massage 2 pumps of the Balancing face cream into the clean, dry skin on my face and neck. Before going to bed, I put 1-2 CBD oil drops under my tongue. In that time my skin has become cleaner and healthier. The results aren’t perfect yet, but I feel I’m on the right track.
Products Ana was using:
Concentrated CBD treatment balm tackles the toughest symptoms of atopic skin, alleviates skin reactions and soothes eczema flare-ups. Reach for it when skin needs fast-acting help for inflamed, reddened and itchy conditions. It provides intense relief and unique nourishing care. Ingredients:High concentration of CBD extract is a powerful anti-inflammatory and skin-soothing properties. Hemp seed oil, rich in essential fatty acids omega 3 & 6, Vitamin E and minerals – the building blocks of healthy skin. Calendula, shea and mango butter soothe and nurture.
A soothing moisturiser with skin-balancing actives formulated to leave oily and blemish-prone skin calm and comfortable. Improves the condition of oily, combination and problem-prone skin by minimising the appearance of blackheads and breakouts. Ingredients:CBD reduces excess sebum production and has a balancing and calming effect on the skin. Hemp seed oil, bursting with omegas 3 & 6, which soothe and reduce redness. Hemp hydrolate hydrates and reduces the appearance of large pores for smoother looking skin. Chlorella is rich in beta-carotene and zinc, it minimises visibility of redness.
A boost of the purest CBD extract for your body & mind. CO2 extraction method. Full Spectrum.
CBD Oil For Acne: Everything You Need to Know
Bryan is a contributing writer for Byrdie covering all things beauty and grooming. He has over 16 years of experience in beauty editorial and has been with Byrdie since 2020.
Rachel is a board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Dermatology. She has contributed to Byrdie, as well as Harpers Bazaar, Marie Claire, Allure, Vogue, and the New York Times, and more
Madeline has been with Byrdie and Brides since 2021. Most recently, she lead social media at Glamour magazine where she covered pop culture, beauty, and fashion.
Liz DeSousa for Byrdie
In This Article
CBD oil is seeping into virtually every beauty product category nowadays—even in deodorant and toothpaste. With its anti-stress, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory claims, it’s no wonder this so-called “wonder ingredient” is pushing its way into our self-care routines. Even more, according to the latest studies, CBD oil may be exactly what your breakout-prone, irritated skin needs to get back into shape.
Although there’s still a great deal of required research ahead to determine how best to use CBD to treat acne, we talked to a panel of experts, including cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson of BeautyStat, Michele Green, board-certified dermatologist, Kenneth Howe of Wexler Dermatology, and Rachel Nazarian of the Schweiger Dermatology Group to get the facts as well as the potential of using CBD oil for acne.
Keep reading to determine if CBD’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and oil-regulating properties actually work wonders for acne.
Meet the Expert
- Ron Robinson is a cosmetic chemist at BeautyStat. is a board-certified dermatologist based in Manhattan.
- Kenneth Howe is a board-certified dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology.
- Rachel Nazarian is a New York City-based dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group.
Type of Ingredient: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, sebum-regulating.
Main Benefits: Reduces inflammation, healing and calming, regulates oil production, neutralizes free radicals.
Who Should Use It: It is recommended for those looking to treat mild to moderate inflammatory acne lesions at home. It’s also great for sensitive or those allergic to typical anti-acne ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide or retinol.
How Often Can You Use It: Products containing CBD oil can be used twice per day as part of your usual anti-acne skincare routine.
Works Well With: Ingredients designed to calm skin and decrease inflammation, including arnica, hyaluronic acid and ceramides.
Don’t Use With: Ingredients that can counteract the anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD, such as alcohol. Also, be aware that CBD is still an unregulated ingredient, and ongoing research is still exploring CBD’s pathways and other ingredients it may or may not work well with.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD—which stands for Cannabidiol—oil is a compound derived from both hemp (cannabis sativa) and marijuana (cannabis sativa indica) plants, both of which are part of the cannabis family. When it comes to acne’s root causes—a combination of bacteria, oil, and dry skin cells getting trapped in your pores—CBD oil seems to have all bases covered. “CBD oil is beneficial to these conditions due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It reduces sebum production and is also antimicrobial, so it works great for acne-prone skin,” says Green. She also cited a 2007 study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science that showed CBD oil applied to the skin may inhibit the overproduction of keratinocytes (skin cells), thus eliminating yet another acne-causing culprit.
Benefits of CBD Oil for Acne
- Reduces inflammation: CBD oil helps soothe irritation caused by acne, noticeably reducing overall redness and making breakouts appear smaller and less painful. This is especially helpful for acne-prone skin sensitivity, as CBD oil works without the dryness, redness, or irritation of conventional ingredients.
- Controls oil production: “The most exciting finding of CBD oil is that it’s ‘sebostatic’—it cuts down on oil production in the skin,” says Howe. “Current evidence suggests the skin has its own endocannabinoid system, which is to say cannabinoids are active in the skin, binding to their receptors, and signaling for certain activities to occur or not occur.” How does that relate to oil production? Green explained that “the increase in sebum production is a result of endogenous cannabinoids (anandamide and 2AG) which are produced in the sebaceous glands. These endogenous cannabinoids act on CB2 receptors inhibiting the lipogenic action, therefore regulating sebum production.”
- It’s an antioxidant: CBD oil is packed with potent antioxidants that help protect skin from free radicals resulting from environmental damage and improve texture and tone over time. While none of the dermatologists could vouch for CBD oil’s ability to fade post-acne marks, it could provide an extra measure of antioxidant protection into your anti-acne routine.
- Acne multi-tasker: Rather than act as a spot treatment, acne-targeting products containing CBD oil may help manage the overall issues that contribute to acne formation. Nazarian says, “Because it works as both an anti-inflammatory and can decrease oil production, it has the ability to multitask as an acne product. It may be considered a gentler option and a safe option for many different skin types.”
Other Skin Benefits
One thing worth pointing out about incorporating CBD oil into your skincare routine is how kind it is to skin. “It’s gentle, and that’s what makes it stand out from other options,” said Nazarian. “Additionally, there are many skin types that are either too sensitive to use ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide or retinol on, or they have allergies to these ingredients. Having an additional tool in the ‘acne toolkit’ will always be useful in the fight for healthy skin.”
Side Effects of CBD Oil
Though rare, the known side effects of using CBD oil for acne include dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. CBD oil is also known to interact with certain medications such as blood thinners. While there are no known interactions with other topical products, you should start with a patch test if you’re concerned about a reaction. If you experience irritation, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re sensitive to CBD oil, and you should stop using it.
How to Use It
When it comes to actually using CBD oil to treat acne, you may find yourself wondering: supplement or product? Nazarian says, “The evidence supporting use of CBD in treating acne is purely topical at this point. Use of CBD was tested topically on skin cells and has shown promise. Oral supplementation or smoking of CBD formulations has not been evaluated in this manner and can not be recommended.”
The good news is, there’s no shortage of CBD-laced products. One of the most popular routes is face oil. Oils are still having their moment in skincare, as they’re ideal for virtually every skin type (depending on the formulation) and act as an excellent carrier for a variety of potent compounds—like CBD. Oils are also easy to incorporate into a multiple-step skincare regimen, so if you’re looking to up your anti-acne game with an extra product that has very little likelihood to interact with your existing products, a face oil containing CBD oil might be the perfect fit. There are also various cleansers, creams, lotions, and oils for the face and body, but it’s important to steer clear of any that might contain potential comedogenic ingredients.
While the doctors we spoke to were happy to recommend products, they were also quick to remind us that CBD is still an unregulated ingredient, making it difficult to gauge a product’s efficacy. There’s no way to specify the purity or optimal percentage of active ingredients required for the product to be effective.
The Best Products with CBD Oil for Acne
“This product packs a 100mg hemp oil lightweight formulation which also contains adaptogens” (plant-based roots and herbs that help calm our body’s reaction to stress), says Green.
This anti-blemish cream combines 200mg of CBD hemp extract with 1% salicylic acid to calm and soothe active breakouts and clear up blemishes, blackheads, and whiteheads while keeping skin smooth and hydrated.
These concentrated patches will help you forget everything you knew about spot treatments that dry zits into painful oblivion. It is packed with the ideal ratio of salicylic acid and hemp to reduce inflammation and speed healing, while hydrocolloid action stops the infection in its tracks.
Each scoop of these luxe bath salts contains approximately 20mg of CBD oil and a host of other de-stressing and body-boosting ingredients, including pink Himalayan salt, arnica, Epsom salts, and calendula. Plus, they get two thumbs up from Nazarian, who praises their ability to decrease inflammation and encourage relaxation. Great for a bacne-busting soak—make sure the water isn’t too hot.
When cleansing broken-out skin, it’s important to be thorough while still respecting the skin’s moisture barrier. While this refreshing gel cleanser doesn’t contain actual CBD oil, it’s stacked with Cannabis Sativa seed and green oregano oils.
The skin around the eye area is the thinnest and most delicate on the face, so while an eye cream isn’t exactly first on the list of anti-acne products, one containing CBD could tick off two essential boxes of your skincare regimen: eye care and soothing anti-acne action.
Rather than applied topically, a few drops of this ultra-pure, ultra-potent CBD oil taken each day orally may help balance out the stress levels and reduce inflammation.
CBD oil is an antioxidant that reduces inflammation, controls oil production, and manages the overall issues that contribute to acne formation.
Yes, it’s especially beneficial for acne-prone skin. “It’s gentle, and that’s what makes it stand out from other options,” said Nazarian. “Additionally, there are many skin types that are either too sensitive to use ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide or retinol on, or they have allergies to these ingredients. Having an additional tool in the ‘acne toolkit’ will always be useful in the fight for healthy skin.”
Nazarian says, “The evidence supporting use of CBD in treating acne is purely topical at this point. Use of CBD was tested topically on skin cells and has shown promise. Oral supplementation or smoking of CBD formulations has not been evaluated in this manner and can not be recommended.”
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