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CBD in Skin Care: new studies show a wide range of benefits

November 23, 2020

If you’re into skincare, you know the excitement of finding a new ingredient that might help get you closer to reaching your skin goals. While it may seem like an unlikely source, CBD has shown some positive benefits for the skin, and it might as well be the next wonder product on your bathroom shelf. 

CBD is a compound found in cannabis, and while clear skin may not be the first thing you associate with cannabis users, CBD has shown an ability to improve various factors that contribute to skin issues such as acne, aging, eczema, and psoriasis.

Is CBD good for the skin?

CBD has gained a reputation for its numerous health benefits, from improving sleep and pain to even helping with mental health conditions. It seems there is almost no limit to CBD’s therapeutic potential. One of the lesser-known benefits is that CBD may help those who want to improve their skin and combat certain skin conditions. 

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis. Another cannabinoid you might be familiar with is THC, but unlike THC, CBD can’t get you high. Instead, CBD has gained a reputation for its healing potential. CBD binds to receptors in your body and modulates different pathways to induce a range of effects. 

While most studies involving CBD use injection, inhalation, or edible delivery methods, that doesn’t mean that CBD skincare doesn’t also show potential. There is some evidence that using a topical CBD treatment could still deliver the same benefits as other methods. 

One animal study found that the transdermal application of CBD can still induce a response, with this study specifically finding that the topical application of CBD resulted in reduced swelling and immune response in animal subjects with arthritis (1).

It is important to keep in mind that CBD skincare may be less effective than other forms of CBD treatments because it will typically result in lower amounts of CBD reaching your bloodstream. Cannabinoids are hydrophobic, meaning CBD can’t dissolve in water. This is a problem when it is applied to the skin because CBD needs to cross the skin barrier, and the skin barrier is high in water. But while CBD can’t dissolve in water, it can dissolve in fats. But luckily, this little problem can be solved easily: just make sure your CBD skincare contains fats like avocado oil, hemp seed oil or argan oil to improve its bioavailability and help to transport CBD through the skin (2).

Research on CBD and skincare 

CBD can induce positive health effects and has the potential to induce these effects through topical application, but what does the research show about CBD skincare?

As an emerging treatment option, more research is needed into CBD as a skincare treatment; however, there are some promising early studies. 

A 2019 study found that CBD ointment improved skin hydration and increased skin elasticity in patients with skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, and issues that resulted in scarring. This study also found that CBD was a safe and effective noninvasive treatment for skin disorders (3).

CBD may also be able to improve acne and one study found that CBD has sebum reducing properties. The study found that when applied to a human skin culture, CBD inhibited the synthesis of oil. Excess sebum production is a major cause of acne, so this study shows CBD’s potential as an acne treatment (4).

Research also tells us that CBD has strong anti-inflammatory activity. CBD is thought to reduce inflammation by acting on specific glycine receptors that induce inflammation suppression (5) and has also been found to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions (6,  7). Inflammation contributes to the worsening of many skin conditions, so CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties could improve the symptoms of conditions such as acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. 

What can CBD do for the skin?

CBD has shown an ability to improve a range of symptoms associated with skin health. While more research is needed into CBD and skin specifically, the properties of CBD offer hope for those looking to improve their skin regarding a range of conditions. 

So what conditions could benefit from CBD? 


Acne can be debilitating, embarrassing, and hard to treat. Luckily, research shows CBD can improve many of the symptoms that lead to and worsen acne. CBD has been shown to directly reduce oil synthesis, one of the main causes of pimples and acne. But CBD has also demonstrated an ability to reduce inflammation and act as an antibacterial. These abilities are all properties that can help to improve and treat acne (8).


Anti-aging treatments often claim a lot but rarely deliver on their promises. However, CBD has shown qualities that can effectively fight some of the signs of aging, like wrinkles. 

Oxidative stress is one of the main causes of aging. It leads to the development of wrinkles, thin skin, and pigmentation as it damages the DNA in skin cells necessary to maintain youthful, healthy skin. Antioxidants are one way to reduce this oxidative stress as they neutralize the free radicals that cause it. 

CBD has strong antioxidant activity and can also enhance the activity of other antioxidants, making it an ideal addition to anti-aging skincare (9, 10). 

Psoriasis and Eczema

Inflammatory skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema can be painful, hard to treat, and extremely disruptive to your quality of life. 

CBD’s strong anti-inflammatory action that studies have found means that it is an ideal ingredient to help reduce the symptoms of these skin disorders. CBD’s antibacterial activity can also benefit patients with psoriasis and eczema (11).

The Bottom Line

While more research is needed into CBD’s effect on the skin and its ability to act as a topical treatment, the compound holds a lot of properties that can improve the symptoms of many skin conditions. 

CBD’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and sebum reducing abilities have been demonstrated, and these actions have led to its reputation as a skin booster.

Skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and signs of aging can be improved through these actions, making CBD a strong skincare ingredient.

While it may not be a cure-all, it is an exciting skincare development and CBD skincare products could deliver some great results!


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