CBD: A Gentle and Effective Acne Remedy

Is there anything cannabis cannot do? Studies are now revealing the healing benefits of cannabis oil for skin, specifically CBD oil. Since we all have cannabinoid receptors on the surface of our skin, it only makes sense that cannabis can benefit and enhance skin health. Researchers are proving cannabis oil to be a promising treatment for a common skin condition, acne vulgaris

Acne affects nearly all adolescents at some point, as well as 20% of adult men and 30% of adult women. Acne can present as only one pimple, or it can cover the entire surface of an area with dozens of pimples. In some cases, acne is so severe that it becomes debilitating, causing physical pain and affecting, self-esteem and confidence levels. It often causes scarring and pockmarks, creating permanent changes to the skin. 

Acne appears when pores become clogged due to inflammation, increased sebum production, and skin cell overgrowth. Sebum is an oily substance produced by your body to moisturize and protect your skin. In the case of acne, sebum gets trapped under the skin surface, and bacteria starts to thrive and reproduce. 

After a pimple is formed, the immune system will begin to heal it by reducing inflammation and attempting to repair skin damage. If there is too much inflammation in an acne lesion, scarring can occur. 

What are the root causes of acne?

Hormones, genetics, diet and stress levels all play a part in contributing to acne. When addressing a symptom, it’s best to identify and treat the root cause(s). Listed below are some issues that contribute to the formation of acne breakouts:

  • Hormone imbalance. Many things cause hormones to become imbalanced. Hormones can be tested through a naturopath or endocrinologist to detect any imbalances. 
  • Poor dietary choices. Too much rich, fatty or processed foods can put stress on the liver, and the liver is responsible for blood purification. If blood is full of impurities, the toxins rise to the surface of the skin and create skin issues. 
  • Sugar. Sugar disrupts the endocrine system thus leading to hormone imbalance. 
  • Stress. Stress hormones like cortisol disrupt the immune system and create inflammation. 
  • Certain pharmaceutical medications such as corticosteroids, lithium, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, androgenic steroids, DHEA, and medications that contain bromides or iodides can cause or aggravate acne. As well, any medications that affect hormones, including birth control, can contribute to symptoms of acne.
  • Environmental toxins. Toxins of any kind put stress on the liver and/or lungs, in turn affecting blood purity and skin health. 

All of these factors must be addressed to eradicate acne. In the meantime, some simple and natural treatments are proving effective in managing acne symptoms, including CBD oil. 

Why CBD works for treating acne

Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that the body produces on its own. The complex endocannabinoid system helps to regulate homeostasis in the body. Human skin contains many cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids. Other locations of cannabinoid receptors include the nervous system, mast cells, sweat glands, and hair follicles. 

Mast cells are cells in the skin that play an important role in immunity and wound-healing. When CBD is consumed the CB1 receptors and mast cells are activated. This stimulates an immune response that helps to heal skin diseases including acne. 

Another type of cells, sebocytes, are responsible for producing sebum. Overactive sebocytes can overproduce and then clog pores, causing acne. The CBD receptors in our skin can help to suppress the proliferation of sebocytes, thus treating acne. 

Anti-inflammatory properties of CBD

Research suggests that CBD can be a potential therapy for conditions of inflammation. A 2016 study done on rats with joint swelling revealed that topical CBD application reduced swelling and pain levels. 

Scientists have found that CBD may help with serious conditions of inflammation such as Alzeimers disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic and acute pain, inflammatory bowel diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.

CBD has also shown to downregulate inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are protein cells that help to regulate the immune system and blood cells. They let the immune system know when to do its job. 

A big contributor to acne is inflammation. When a pimple emerges, inflammation causes the pimple to become red, painful, and increase in size. CBD helps to relieve inflammation thus making the acne breakout less severe and long-lasting.

CBD as an antibacterial ally

A 2019 study that tested CBD against several strains of bacteria has found that CBD performed similarly to antibiotics in every case. In some cases, CBD worked even faster than pharmaceutical antibiotics to kill harmful bacterias such as staphylococcus and streptococcus. CBD also disrupted the biofilm of the bacteria, which is a coating that shields it from antibiotic penetration. This is promising as the bacteria is not able to form resistance to the CBD compounds. 

CBD was tested topically on a skin infection and was able to cut the infection after 48 hours. This study is ongoing but reveals the potential for CBD in treating skin ailments. 

Benzoyl peroxide is a common antibacterial chemical used in acne gels and creams. It is strong and unfortunately can produce side effects such as irritation, itching, burning, redness, swelling, and peeling. CBD is beneficial as a gentle and restorative alternative to aggressive chemicals when treating acne. 


How does CBD play a role in immunity and acne treatment?

When CBD is consumed, it activates the CB1 receptors in the nervous system as well as mast cells. An immune response is stimulated which contributes to the healing of skin conditions including acne.

How does CBD help to control sebum and production and acne?

Sebum is an oily substance on our skin produced by sebocyte cells. When there is too much sebum being produced, pores get clogged and the result is acne. CBD works by suppressing the production of sebocytes.

How does CBD reduce acne inflammation?

CBD downregulates inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are cells that regulate the immune system and blood cell production.

Why is CBD safer than benzoyl peroxide when treating acne?

Benzoyl peroxide is a strong chemical that aggressively treats acne. It comes with many potential side effects. CBD is a gentle alternative and safer for short-term and long-term use.

Why do I have to dilute CBD oil when I use it on my skin?

The volatile oils in any undiluted cannabis-derived product are powerful and can cause irritation and other side effects when applied topically. Therefore a carrier oil must be used in combination with CBD oil.

What are some carrier oils to use with CBD for topical treatment?

The oils of coconut, sesame, avocado, almond, olive and jojoba seeds are all safe and nourishing options to use as a carrier oil for CBD.

How to treat acne with CBD oil 

When using CBD topically it must be diluted with a carrier oil. Some common carrier oils include:

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Almond oil

Apply the CBD/carrier oil preparation directly to affected areas. Different skin types react differently to each oil. Spend some time researching which oil is best for your skin type and experiment. 

Because the anti-inflammatory properties are still active when they enter the body, CBD can also be used internally to treat acne symptoms. Follow directions on the bottle for dosage, and remember to always start with a low dose and work your way up. 

The therapeutic benefits of topical CBD are promising. Acne, scarring, discoloration, dryness and more serious conditions such as psoriasis and eczema are all ailments that can be greatly remedied with CBD treatment. If you are curious about adding CBD oil to your skin care routine, the staff at The Green Dragon CBD are more than happy to answer any questions and guide you towards the products that will most suit your needs. Click here to contact us with your questions. 


Jennifer Olson is a copywriter with a deep knowledge of the cannabis industry. She was born and raised on an island in BC, Canada and currently resides in the Slocan Valley, BC. She is passionate about science and research and could potentially bore you with talk of mycelium, neurochemicals, you name it. Connect with her on Instagram or read other posts by Jen.

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