Beyond Beauty — CBD & Skin Health

CBD is taking the beauty industry by storm. But, does CBD’s potential to benefit go more than skin deep? Could it help with the actual health — not just the appearance — of your skin?

That’s what we’ll be fleshing out today. So, get ready to soak up more than a dime-sized dollop of knowledge about CBD and its possible impacts on our body's largest organ. Ready to love the skin you’re in even more?

Cannabis educator Barbie Sommars explains why CBD is used in skincare products, answering questions from Green Bee Life Founder Maria Calabrese. Watch the full video on Maria's Kitchen.

Skin Health, More Than Just a Clear Complexion

Skin isn’t just for sporting a dewy glow. While that’s certainly nice to have, your skin’s got you covered head to toe from a wellness perspective, too.

We can’t overstate how important your skin is. It’s a vital part of your immune system and works hard in other ways to keep you safe and healthy.

Skin, the Multi-Functional Organ

Among the skin’s functions are:(1)

  • Helping to prevent dehydration
  • Facilitating sensations like heat or pain
  • Keeping harmful microbes and other substances out of your body
  • Helping your body regulate its temperature
  • Making vitamin D

Skin Diseases

Skin diseases are disorders that affect your skin. They can cause inflammation, clogging, or irritation. Many skin health conditions manifest as rashes, itching, or other changes to the appearance or function of the skin. The origins and severity of skin diseases can vary greatly.

It’s estimated that as many as a third of Americans currently have a skin disease.(2) So they’re extremely common.

What the Science Says about CBD & Skin Health

Research into CBD and skin health is limited but ongoing. Most of the research has investigated the benefits and efficacy of topical CBD (and other cannabinoids).

That caveat aside, we can still learn a lot from the data and results of existing studies.

To start, it’s been shown that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) modulates skin biology.(3) We already knew that the ECS runs throughout the body, including the skin. Science is confirming the link between the ECS’s presence and its activity in the skin. It’s through the ECS that CBD can influence health and well-being.

Additionally, scientists and clinicians have found that CBD exhibits a great deal of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory for a range of skin concerns. They’ve also determined that CBD promotes collagen production in broken bones and are looking into whether or not CBD influences the collagen matrix in our skin as well.(4) Overall, researchers are eager to see more and larger studies done to understand better how to best leverage CBD to treat skin disorders, bolster skin function, and more.(5)

Dr. Joan Irvine noticed reduced puffiness and more even skin after using botanical CBD skincare and adjusting her diet following an allergic reaction. Hear the full story on know n’ go, a GBL TV original.

CBD for Skin Inflammation & More

Before we dive into specific disorders, let’s see how CBD stacks up against some of the more common symptoms and side effects of skin diseases.

CBD has proven effective against:(6,7,8)

  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Dryness
  • Itching
  • Uneven tone and texture
  • Infection
  • Scars

Research also indicates that CBD can help wounds heal, which may ward off additional skin health problems.

CBD’s able to do all this because it’s loaded with properties that are:(3)

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-fungal
  • Antioxidant
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antibacterial
  • Antipruritic (anti-itch)
  • Anti-erythemic (anti-redness)
  • Anti-apoptotic (helps to regulate cell death)
  • Analgesic (painkilling)
  • Moisturizing

CBD, a Friend to Sensitive Skin

One reason CBD’s gaining popularity is that it’s got a rep for being gentle. Especially compared to many pharmaceutical or commercial alternatives.

CBD is well-tolerated by most healthy adults but long-term effects are TBD. It has fewer and less severe known side effects than many conventional medications.(9) True allergic reactions to cannabidiol seem uncommon or are rarely reported. However, it’s possible to have allergies or sensitivities to cannabidiol or other ingredients in CBD products.

According to one expert interviewed for Dermatology Times, “Topical CBD is considered safe and has no known adverse side effects.”(8

Based on all the literature, studies, and anecdotal reports we reviewed, it appears more likely that CBD skincare will ease skin woes than triggering further harm.

CBD vs Common Skin Health Conditions

Skin conditions are often very bothersome. They can be physically uncomfortable and mentally or emotionally distressing. It’s easy to understand why the healthcare community and patients are clamoring to see if CBD can prevent and/or remedy skin diseases.

Below are some of the most common skin health concerns.(1,10) Let’s take a look at how CBD may help.

But first, a quick reminder. As mentioned previously, CBD research is in its infancy. It hasn’t yet had a chance to catch up with market demand or the grist from the marketing mills. While the stack of CBD research with animals and people is growing every day and we have a plethora of anecdotal wisdom, we still need more high-quality human studies to verify and validate the truth of CBD’s capabilities.

CBD for Acne

CBD reportedly offers a multi-frontal attack on acne. It reduces inflammation and redness, controls oil production, thwarts infections, and nourishes the skin. All this while being safer and easier on your body than many other acne products.(11,12)

CBD for Sunburns & Sun Damage

The anti-inflammatory and pain-alleviating qualities of CBD make it a good option for after-sun care. CBD’s also been shown to regulate the production of certain cellular proteins that contribute to sun damage. Lastly, the moisturizing and antioxidant effects of CBD further help to repair sun-damaged skin.(13,14)

CBD for Fungal Infections

Full- and broad-spectrum CBD — chock full of helpful terpenes — has proven effective against fungal infections of the skin like athlete’s foot. The compounds neutralize fungi so they can’t grow or reproduce. Plus, CBD can quell the hallmarks of fungal infections (itching, redness, etc.) and may be a safer alternative to more mainstream remedies. (15,16)

CBD for Eczema

The anti-inflammatory, anti-itch, and other attributes of CBD have been shown to lessen eczema symptoms — like dry, itchy, and/or red patches of skin.(17) And, CBD’s infection-fighting capabilities also help keep the skin in good shape. It could be a good choice for several forms of eczema including atopic dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.(18)

CBD for Psoriasis

Emerging data points to CBD’s ability to relieve the symptoms of psoriatic disease. By supporting the immune system and reducing the inflammatory response, CBD could help prevent triggers for psoriatic skin issues and improve skin integrity. CBD could also be effective for pain related to inflammation, which is common to this systemic condition.(19)

CBD for Skin Cancer

Researchers are accumulating more and more evidence that CBD has some promising anti-cancer properties. However, claims that CBD has serious anti-cancer credentials including the ability to shrink tumors, prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells, and ease cancer symptoms and treatment side effects(20) are only partially supported by scientific evidence. The truth is, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of CBD on cancer. While CBD may have a more favorable safety profile compared to conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, it can still have potential side effects, including fatigue, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and weight.

Overall, while there is promising evidence that CBD may have anti-cancer properties and benefits for cancer patients, more research is needed to fully understand its effects on cancer, including skin cancer and its treatment. As always, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using CBD for any medical condition, including skin cancer.

CBD Promise Doesn’t Stop There

There are too many skin health ailments to list for everyone. But, rest assured, the use of CBD is being explored for other conditions, too, like:

  • Rosacea
  • Alopecia
  • Vitiligo
  • Diaper rash*

Research continues to unravel the mysteries of how CBD could affect these skin diseases and more. Stay tuned for the latest discoveries!

* There’s very little research on the effects of CBD on child populations. CBD is not recommended for children unless it’s under the guidance and supervision of a qualified healthcare provider. 

Indirect Ways CBD May Support Skin Health

We all know a range of non-skin issues can lead to dermal health problems. So, it may be heartening to know that CBD could help here, too.

Here are just some examples of how CBD’s potential role in supporting overall health may benefit your skin. CBD may help you:

  • Manage stress
  • Regulate hormones
  • Sleep better
  • Mitigate health concerns related to aging

If your body’s not in a state of homeostasis (balance), it won’t be at its best. Stress, hormones, poor sleep, and aging — among other things — can throw your system out of whack. A body that strays from the optimal can develop or worsen skin health issues.

CBD's calming effects may have potential benefits for skin health, as stress and anxiety can exacerbate skin conditions such as acne and eczema. CBD's promise of addressing underlying or tangential wellness concerns — just might be able to promote skin health (and prevent skin health disorders or flare-ups) as well.

How To Add CBD to Your Skincare Routine

Most applications of CBD for skin health conditions are topical. You’ll find a wide range of oils, lotions, balms, creams, soaks, etc. — often targeted towards specific problems. Many products also feature other helpful botanicals, like rose water, that may have complementary benefits for whatever ails your skin.

If you’re interested in supporting general skin health from within, an oral formulation of CBD — CBD tinctures, CBD softgels, and so on — may be the way to go. These preparations offer systemic effects rather than spot treatments. They’re also well suited to addressing concerns like the ones mentioned above (stress, poor sleep, etc.).

Your CBD skin health protocol will depend on your needs. And, of course, it’s always good to check in with a healthcare pro who knows their abscess from their epithelium.

As with managing any chronic condition, a consistent treatment plan tends to be the most effective. And while marketers claim that CBD works best with regular use, it’s hard to evaluate whose best interest is at the heart of those statements — yours or theirs.  Until we have more unbiased data from scientific studies, you’ll have to be the judge.

Regardless, always use high-quality full- or broad-spectrum CBD oil products and check in with your doctor to make sure CBD’s right for you.

CBD for Skin Wellness

Your skin plays a major part in keeping your body safe and healthy.

CBD’s been established to have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antioxidant, and other properties to care for and protect the skin.

As such, researchers, medical professionals, and patients alike are looking to CBD for help with many skin diseases. More research is needed, but existing data and anecdotal accounts suggest CBD may be useful in addressing eczema, psoriasis, acne, and several more skin conditions.

Incorporating CBD into your skin healthcare regimen can be easy. It can be as simple as applying a topical CBD serum or a quality hemp–CBD-infused botanical cream. 


FAQs Buzzin’ Through the Hive

Does CBD make your skin clear?

CBD may help improve the appearance of your skin by evening out its tone and texture.(6)

Can CBD help with wrinkles?

CBD’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hydrating, and other properties may help slow the onset and minimize the appearance of wrinkles.(21)

Why use CBD on your skin?

CBD may support overall and skin-specific health in a number of meaningful ways. It could also help make your skin look better.

References

  1. (2021). Skin Diseases: Types of, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention. Cleveland Clinic.
  2. (2019). Skin Conditions at a Glance. NCCIH.
  3. Baswan, SM, et al. (2020). Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology.
  4. Kogan, NM, et al. (2015). Cannabidiol, a Major Non-Psychotropic Cannabis Constituent Enhances Fracture Healing and Stimulates Lysyl Hydroxylase Activity in Osteoblasts. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
  5. Ikarashi, N, et al. (2021). Cannabidiol Application Increases Cutaneous Aquaporin-3 and Exerts a Skin Moisturizing Effect. Pharmaceuticals.
  6. Morales-Brown, L. (2021). Is CBD oil good for skin? Medical News Today.
  7. Petronelli, M. (2020). Does CBD benefit the skin? Dermatology Times.
  8. Hilton, L. (2019). Hemp for skin health? Dermatology Times; Dermatology Times.
  9. Kvamme, SL, et al. (2021). Exploring the use of cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs in a convenience sample. Harm Reduction Journal.
  10. Ann, L. (2014). 10 Common Skin Conditions with Photos & Treatment Options. Drugs.com.
  11. Levandowski, B. (2021). CBD Oil For Acne: Everything You Need to Know. Byrdie.
  12. Johnson, J. (2019). CBD for acne: Does it work? Medical News Today.
  13. Reeves, A. (2020). Does CBD Oil Help Sunburns? cbdMD.
  14. Gęgotek, A, et al. (2021). The Effect of Cannabidiol on UV-Induced Changes in Intracellular Signaling of 3D-Cultured Skin Keratinocytes. International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
  15. Brodsky, C. (2019). How CBD Can Help You Get Rid of Athlete’s Foot. HelloMD.
  16. Smith, G. (2020). Is CBD Oil Antifungal? [We Look at the Science]. WayofLeaf.
  17. Klein, J. (2022). 3 of the best CBD creams for eczema 2022. Medical News Today.
  18. Curtis, L. (2021). Does CBD for Eczema Really Work? Verywell Health.
  19. Onorati, H. (2021). CBD for Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  20. Julia, N. (2022). CBD Oil for Skin Cancer – Benefits & Top Brands of 2022. CFAH.
  21. Julia, N. (2021). CBD Oil for Wrinkles and Anti-Aging: Skin Benefits & How to Use? CFAH.
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About the Author

Green Bee Life staff writer logo

GBL Staff Writer

Green Bee Life is your resource for accurate, transparent, and up-to-date content and products related to cannabis.

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