How Does Cannabis Help With Skincare?

Skin conditions are incredibly common. In fact, up to 50 million Americans are affected by acne every year. Ten percent of people will develop atopic dermatitis during their lifetime, and nearly 16 million Americans will experience the discomfort of rosacea. Over 7 million people struggle with psoriasis. Most adults have an array of skincare products to help manage their skincare concerns, while others must utilize prescription options to get relief. 


Many of these skin conditions are uncomfortable on their own, causing burning, itching, pain, or general discomfort. Additionally, the appearance of certain skin disorders can negatively affect mental health. Antifungals and antibiotic creams are often used for managing skin conditions. More severe conditions may require the use of topical steroidal medications. 


The problem with some of these medications is that regular exposure can cause them to become less effective. The constant use of antibiotic medications has been known to disrupt the skin’s natural microbiome, which can negatively impact the skin’s immune system. These medications also require a regular prescription, which can be a hassle when creating your skincare routine. Unfortunately, many people are unable to control their skin conditions without them. 


Now, CBD is emerging quickly in the skincare industry, and researchers are working to investigate the anti-inflammatory, sebostatic, and antiproliferative properties that may make CBD a suitable therapeutic option for many skin concerns. CBD can be used regularly with no adverse side effects, and in some cases may work as a replacement for prescription medications. Of course, most of the research concerning CBD for skin conditions is still in its early stages, and researchers will need to continue to push forward before CBD can be established as a treatment or cure. We turn to a list of studies to help explain the link between CBD and common skincare concerns, like psoriasis, acne, inflammation, and more. 


What Studies Exist to Support the Use of CBD in Skincare?

CBD was first discovered in the 1940s, but researchers have put more emphasis on the therapeutic value of THC until more recently. Now, our increased understanding of the endocannabinoid system’s regulatory role in the body has led to an influx of research regarding the non psychoactive cannabinoid. 


Studies have identified several ways that CBD could be useful for managing a range of skin conditions. Most of the evidence surrounds the use of CBD for psoriasis, but studies have also highlighted the anti-inflammatory and sebostatic properties of cannabidiol that may make it useful for many other conditions, like acne or eczema. 


Researchers have uncovered evidence of the endocannabinoid system’s involvement in the regulation of skin cells, and some sources have even identified CBD as a potential therapeutic avenue for skin tumors. Because researchers know that the endocannabinoid balance directly affects most aspects of skin health, research regarding CBD for skincare is expected to continue to advance. 


For now, we have multiple studies that help support the strong link between CBD and skincare:

1. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes.

A 2014 study suggests that cannabidiol may be useful for managing various skin conditions in multiple important ways. “Collectively, our findings suggest that, due to the combined lipostatic, antiproliferative, and antiinflammatory effects, CBD has potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris”


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2. Epigenetic control of skin differentiation genes by phytocannabinoids.

A 2013 study suggest that CBD could be useful for a range of different skin conditions by controlling genetic skin differations. The study concludes that “the phytocannabinoids cannabidiol and cannabigerol are transcriptional repressors that can control cell proliferation and differentiation. This indicates that they (especially cannabidiol) have the potential to be lead compounds for the development of novel therapeutics for skin diseases.”


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3. Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of psoriasis.

A 2007 study investigated the use of CBd for psoriasis and found that “The results indicate that while CB receptors may have a circumstantial role in keratinocyte proliferation, they do not contribute significantly to this process. Our results show that cannabinoids inhibit keratinocyte proliferation, and therefore support a potential role for cannabinoids in the treatment of psoriasis.


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4. Attenuation of allergic contact dermatitis through the endocannabinoid system.

A 2007 study concluded “Cannabinoid receptor antagonists exacerbated allergic inflammation, whereas receptor agonists attenuated inflammation. These results demonstrate a protective role of the endocannabinoid system in contact allergy in the skin and suggest a target for therapeutic intervention.”

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5. Cannabinoid 1 receptors in keratinocytes modulate proinflammatory chemokine secretion and attenuate contact allergic inflammation.

A 2013 review dives deeper into the function of the endocannabinoid system in the skin and concluded that “CB1 receptors are functionally expressed by KCs in vivo and help to limit the secretion of proinflammatory chemokines that regulate T cell-dependent inflammation in the effector phase of CHS.”

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6. Endocannabinoids modulate human epidermal keratinocyte proliferation and survival via the sequential engagement of cannabinoid receptor-1 and transient receptor potential vanilloid-1.

A 2011 study looked at the endocannabinoid’s role in regulating keratinocyte proliferation and suggests that manipulating the ECS may be an effective route of treatment for psoriasis and skin tumors. “The data reported here may encourage one to explore whether the targeted manipulation of the above signaling pathway of the cutaneous ECS could become a useful adjunct treatment strategy for hyperproliferative human dermatoses such as psoriasis or KC-derived skin tumors.”

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7. A novel control of human keratin expression: cannabinoid receptor 1-mediated signaling down-regulates the expression of keratins K6 and K16 in human keratinocytes in vitro and in situ.

A 2013 study looked further into the role of the endocannabinoid system in regulating keratinocytes. The study concludes that “cannabinoids and their receptors constitute a novel, clinically relevant control element of human K6 and K16 expression.”

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Which CBD products help with skincare?

As you formulate your CBD skincare routine, it’s important to note that the benefits of CBD for skincare have not yet been proven. Still, many people are turning to the cannabinoid as a result of widespread anecdotal reports of success when CBD is used regularly. That means that CBD topicals need to first be used as a preventative. Then, you can apply spot treatments to help manage sudden flares, but your regular applications are most important. 

There are multiple different CBD skincare products to choose from, all of which may better suit different unique needs. For managing most skincare concerns, we recommend a high-quality full spectrum CBD oil or CBD-infused cream.

Both products utilize the same wholesome ingredient—full spectrum CBD oil. The main difference between the two is the application technique, where as oil will go on thin and cover a larger area, and cream provides a thicker consistency appropriate for targeted applications. Oils are also useful for adding CBD to your current face serums, masks, or lotions to reap the benefits of CBD without giving up your favorite products.  

Many people find they still need a safe way to sudden flares in addition to a consistent CBD skincare routine as outlined above. For sudden skin flares, like inflammation, acne blemishes, or irritation due to chronic skin conditions, we recommend a CBD-infused balm, which provides a thick application that is often combined with high-quality MCT oil, an ingredient that aids the absorption of CBD in the body. 

You may find that multiple products fit into your skincare routine, and many people find that a combination of products helps provide quick and consistent relief from many skin conditions. 

What is the correct CBD dosage to help treat skincare concerns?

Dosing for CBD topicals is a unique experience for every person, and the amount of CBD needed to provide complete relief depends on certain factors. Your best dose is mainly affected by your tolerance to cannabinoid-based medications as well as the type and severity of your skin conditions. 


CBD topicals can be used frequently to manage the symptoms of most skin conditions, but it may take a little guess and check work to design a CBD skincare regimen that works for you. We recommend starting with one application of the CBD skincare product you choose and applying an adequate amount to lightly cover the entire affected area. 


Keep in mind that CBD topicals may take up to 30 minutes to kick in. Make sure that you allow adequate time to monitor the effects. If no relief is felt after one application, re-apply CBD as often as necessary to control symptoms. 


CBD is known to potentially interfere with some medications through interactions with certain liver enzymes, though this may not apply to topicals. Still, you should be cautious about using CBD in combination with prescription topicals. If you’re unsure or already use prescription medications daily, talk to your doctor about CBD before you get started.