CBD, or cannabidiol, has been widely studied for its seemingly endless benefits ranging from combating inflammation and reducing stress to even helping to reduce seizure frequency in epilepsy cases.
However, the list doesn’t seem to stop there. Many claim CBD also has benefits when it comes to acne due to its anti-inflammatory and potential antibacterial properties.
We’re diving into the research to see if the claims hold up, and how you can try out CBD yourself to help control breakouts.
Causes of Acne
Chances are we’re all familiar with how bacteria can cause acne breakouts; however, there are some lesser-known underlying causes that could be major contributors, including:
- Stress and anxiety
• Excess oil production
These are just as important to know, especially if you’ve been keeping your face clean and still have yet to get acne under control. And, luckily, CBD can help in most of these areas, which could improve acne.
How CBD Can Help With Acne
- CBD inhibits oil production and reduces inflammation
It turns out an oily face may be one of the main causes of acne breakouts. Researchers believe the overproduction of sebum, the natural oil produced by our bodies to keep our skin lubricated, can become trapped in glands and pores in our skin, leading to swelling and breakouts. Studies have shown this theory has some merit, with one revealing that compared to people with normal skin, those with acne had a 20 percent higher rate of sebum production. [*]
Alongside excess oil, inflammation has been found to play a pretty big role in acne. Research shows that when oil and bacteria on our skin build up, our immune system becomes triggered as it tries to prevent infection. While inflammation itself isn’t necessarily a negative thing, as it helps us heal from injury, chronic inflammation can lead to red, inflamed, and even damaged skin. [*]
CBD has been widely studied recently for its positive effects on inflammation, which are believed to come from its interaction with our own endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid receptors. Because we have this built-in system in our bodies for cannabinoids (and because we can produce our own) taking CBD can help regulate it. Cannabinoid receptors are also found in our immune system where inflammation is triggered, which is thought to be why we see a positive effect on widespread inflammation in animal and human studies. [*]
When it comes to both oil and inflammation, one study done specifically on CBD and acne showed CBD inhibited oil production and had anti-inflammatory effects on the glands that produce oil. [*]
- CBD can reduce stress
Have you ever noticed breakouts tend to pop up during times of stress and anxiety? This isn’t a coincidence.
While researchers don’t know for sure the exact reason why stress causes breakouts (they’ve tested to see if it was due to an increase in oil production, but the results aren’t conclusive) they can see from studies that it does.
One found a significant association between stress and severity of acne, especially in males. [*] Another found an extremely strong correlation between stress and acne in females, highlighting that the stress-acne linked isn’t necessarily gender-based. [*]
CBD may help to improve acne caused by stress by working directly with your nervous system to promote relaxation. Studies done on patients with anxiety disorders have shown CBD may help ease feelings of anxiety and stress. [*]
- CBD can reduce anxiety
As we mentioned above, stress can cause and/or make acne worse. Anxiety is another emotion that can accompany stress, and separate research has shown a link between patients suffering from anxiety and increased acne. Not only that, but some reports suggest acne is common in other mood and mental disorders, such as depression, aggression, and low self-esteem. [*]
CBD may help calm feelings of anxiety and promote a more peaceful mindset, which could lead to an improvement in breakouts, although the research is still new. [*]
Aside from excess oil production, bacteria on your skin and in your pores can also trigger breakouts. This is why many topical acne washes and creams (even natural versions) contain bacteria-fighting acids.
While there is limited research on CBD and acne, a new study has found that CBD is, according to researchers, “remarkably effective” at killing bacteria. In the particular study, the bacteria used wasn’t common acne-causing bacteria, but did include extremely potent bacteria like Staph and Strep, along with other antibiotic-resistant strains.
Because of CBD’s promising fight against bacteria in test tubes, researchers are also experimenting with synthetic versions of CBD to treat acne as well as other skin issues and infections [*]
How to Use CBD for Acne
There are several ways you can try CBD for acne, depending on the cause of it. For instance, if you notice acne tends to pop up in times of stress, you might want to consider vaping (inhaling) or using a tincture in order to increase whole-body relaxation.
If you believe your acne might be caused by excess oil are bacteria, you may want to give a cream or even a CBD-infused face oil a try. These will get CBD directly on the affected area as well as absorbed into your pores to experience internal benefits.
A couple of things to note: Make sure you’re choosing a pure CBD oil. Some oils contain THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis that can get you high.
Also, be sure to choose a brand that uses high quality (preferably organic) hemp plants to extract CBD. You’ll be able to find this on the label or on the brand website.
The bottom line is: acne is annoying and can have a serious impact on your self-esteem. If you’ve experimented with other ways to clear breakouts but are still struggling, CBD may be worth a try!