A woman rubs lotion on her face. Herb has rounded up the best CBD for acne products.

Photo by Jonathan Coward/HERB

learn | 01.20.2020

Does CBD for Acne Work? Here’s the Evidence and Best Products

CBD has been touted as a miracle molecule that can treat everything from insomnia to inflammation, but does CBD for acne work? Herb’s full explainer includes everything you need to try it.

The science is in: there’s reason to explore CBD oil for acne. Well, if lab experiments have any say in the matter, that is.

Acne is the most well-known skin disorder in the world, affecting at least 85 percent of people at some point in their lives. Though far from life-threatening, the blemishes and pimples caused by acne can cause scarring, discomfort, and do a number on self-esteem.

There are many factors that contribute to acne, however, a trademark of the common skin condition is excess oil production. Special glands in the skin produce an oil called sebum to lubricate the tissue and provide protection against water and abrasion.

Sebum is a beautiful thing, keeping skin healthy and safe from environmental harms. With acne, however, hormonal shifts and other factors cause the skin to secrete excess amounts of this greasy oil. Pimples are the result, plaguing the face with unwanted blemishes, tightness, puss, and inflammation.

Does CBD Oil Cure Acne?

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Photo by Jonathan Coward/HERB

Even though acne and the occasional blemish is something nearly everyone experiences at some point in their life, the exact cause of acne is still unknown. It’s not uncommon to hear that acne is caused by bacteria that proliferate in the pores of the skin.

While this is partly true, bacterial overgrowth is only one part of the acne puzzle. In fact, while doctors and researchers know which factors contribute to acne, all the little details about the precise cause remain a mystery.

For this reason, it would be inaccurate to say that CBD “cures” acne. Yet, while the molecule may be far from a cure, a growing body of evidence suggests that CBD may have something to offer those seeking relief from breakouts and blemishes.

CBD for Acne Breakouts

No medicine that you must take regularly can be called a cure. The cannabis compound, however, may be helpful for those searching for a natural treatment. In fact, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that the cannabis compound not only reduced inflammation in human skin cultures but also seemed to prevent the development of pimples in the first place.  

Unfortunately, culturing pimples in a laboratory setting is a far cry from what is actually experienced in the human body. Yet, early experiments like these are still promising. 

And this early study is not the only piece of research to point to CBD as a potential acne treatment. As it turns out, the compound may also be able to prevent the formation of acne blemishes thanks to some of its nutritional properties.

CBD is Anti-Inflammatory

The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD have gained their fair share of attention. In fact, a patent held by the U.S. government suggests that the anti-inflammatory effects of the cannabis chemical may improve the outcomes of those with brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

More than anything, acne is an inflammatory condition of the skin which is one of the main reasons CBD make work so well for it. CBD seems to alter the way the body breaks down and processes a certain omega-6 fatty acid, called arachidonic acid. Omega 6 fatty acids, most commonly found in meats and some grains, are essential fats that can have pro-inflammatory effects. In fact, nutrition research suggests that diets high in omega-6 fatty acids may increase the risk of acne.

CBD is Anti-Microbial

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Photo by Jonathan Coward/HERB

It’s fairly well-known that CBD has anti-microbial properties. In fact, one reason the cannabis plant produces CBD is to protect itself from bacterial and fungal infections.

In the laboratory setting, researchers have found that the cannabinoid is strong enough to kill even antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. In 2008, researchers from Italy tested the effects of various cannabis compounds on Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as MRSA.

MRSA is a superbug that can cause debilitating infections of the skin and other bodily tissues. CBD, along with a handful of other cannabis compounds, killed MRSA cultivated in the lab. At this point, the antibacterial properties of hemp CBD have yet to be put to any real test in humans. However, it’s easy to assume that these antimicrobial properties may be useful for acne.

In acne, excess oil production causes an overgrowth of the Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria. This bacteria is normally found on healthy skin but begins to take over when oil production and inflammation run rampant. Whether or not CBD has an effect on P. acnes is unclear, but the antimicrobial properties of the molecule are certainly worth exploring.  

Does CBD Cause Acne?

Breakouts can happen to anyone at any time. In fact, there is never one single cause for acne. The skin condition can be inherited, however, diet and lifestyle factors can also contribute. Times of stress and hormonal changes create prime opportunities for blemishes, which is perhaps why acne is most common during puberty, menopause, and pregnancy.

Thus far, there has been no evidence that CBD worsens acne. As mentioned above, experimental research even suggests that the cannabis compound may ease inflammation and reduce oil production. Both of these factors are key to reducing the appearance of pimples and preventing breakouts before they even start.

Is Hemp Oil Good for Acne?

In the laboratory setting, recent research published in the journal PLOS One found that hemp seed oil not only reduces inflammation but seemed to have an anti-microbial effect against the P. acnes bacteria. The experiment was conducted in cultured cells, but additional research also suggests a positive effect.

When it comes to sebum, a little hemp oil goes a long way. In 2015, scientists found that a skin cream that contained a mere three percent cannabis seed extract successfully reduced sebum in patients with acne. Hoping to reduce your breakouts? Producing less sebum is a sure-fire remedy.

Best CBD Products for Acne

You don’t have to wait to try CBD-infused creams and balms for acne. There are a number of exceptional CBD for acne products available right now, many of which can be accessed in the U.S. and Canada. Here are some leading ones to try:

Youth Day CBD and Hyaluronic pH Balance Toner

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Photo courtesy of mgcderma.com

The Youth Day CBD and Hyaluronic pH Balance Toner is an excellent choice for those who struggle with acne. Formulated for oily skin, this toner is gentle enough to use on the face and hardy enough to fight excess buildup and prevent breakouts.

Healthy skin should be on the acidic side of the pH scale, and this toner seeks to maintain the optimum environment for skin. This slight acidity protects the skin from unwelcome pathogens, which often cannot thrive in acidic environments.

Not to mention, this toner is enriched with hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by the body to protect joints and maintain healthy tissues. In skincare, the acid acts as a natural humectant, preventing moisture loss while fighting excess oil buildup in the skin. 

Youth Day CBD and Hyaluronic Cleansing Milk

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Photo courtesy of mgcderma.com

No skin care regimen is complete without an excellent cleanser. Not only is Youth Day CBD and Acid Cleansing Milk enriched with CBD, but it is made without the use of harsh soaps or detergents. While it may seem logical to wash away excess sebum with a strong soap, removing too much oil in one cleansing session may trick your skin into producing even more oil to compensate.

This gentle cleanser is safe to use for all skin types, carefully removing grime and oil. Like the Hyaluronic pH Balance Toner, this Cleansing Milk is formulated using hyaluronic acid as a natural humectant. Your skin will thank you.  

Hemp Oil and Coconut Extract 30 Capsule Dietary Supplement

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Photo courtesy of elixinol.com

Applying CBD creams and cleansers topically can work wonders on the skin, potentially reducing inflammation and protecting against oxidative damage. However, there may be some real benefits to consuming the compound as a dietary supplement too.

The skin may be inflamed with acne, but that inflammation doesn’t start from the outside and work its way into the body. Rather, inflamed and irritated skin can be a warning sign of a more systemic problem. Currently, oral anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to treat acne.

Though no studies have examined oral CBD as a treatment for acne, the cannabis compound is expected to be a potent anti-inflammatory in its own right. Elixinol’s Hemp Oil and Coconut Extract 30 Capsule Dietary Supplement is an excellent and cost-effective selection for those who want to enhance their topical routine with internal support.

Dr. Kerklaan Topicals Skin Cream

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Photo courtesy of marinmedicinalcannabis.com

If you just have the occasional blemish or are hoping for a more intensive spot-treatment for cystic acne, you may want to try a cream like Dr. Kerklaan Topicals Skin Cream. Unlike other products on this list, this skin cream contains an even ratio of both CBD and THC. Sadly, this means that only consumers in California have access to this exceptional product.

Formulated to relieve itch, irritation, and inflammation, this skin cream boasts an antibacterial effect. Almost like an all-natural antibiotic ointment, a small amount of this cream goes a long way. While perhaps not the best choice for daily acne care, this product may be helpful for immediate relief from difficult, cystic blemishes that are causing pain and discomfort.

The company also has CBD-only creams available in all 50 states.

CBD Pure Hemp Oil

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Photo courtesy of cbdpure.com

If you’re hoping for the most bang for your buck, it’s difficult to find a better product than CBD Pure Hemp Oil. Made with CBD and full-spectrum hemp oil, this product is safe enough to eat and put on your skin. For topical use, simply rub a couple of drops over the inflamed and irritated tissue.

For oral use, this CBD Hemp Oil can be either taken along with food or used sublingually under the tongue. Containing 10 measured milligrams per serving, CBD Pure Hemp Oil is easy to dose and is made using organic ingredients. For those who like to take charge of their own skincare, this oil can be easily mixed into homemade products for a hassle-free infusion. It’s available across the U.S.

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