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The Best CBD Creams & Topicals for Acne (March 2022)

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Early research on CBD’s benefits for acne, eczema, and other skin issues is promising (3).

Unfortunately, finding the right topical CBD product for acne can be difficult. The market is filled with thousands of products, many of which contain less CBD than they should, carry contaminants, or aren’t strong enough to provide an effect.

That’s why we compared dozens of CBD creams, balms, and other topical products based on their formula, third-party lab test results, hemp quality, potency, customer reviews, price, and other criteria.

Here are the best CBD creams and other topical CBD products for acne.

Table of Contents

Top 5 Best CBD Creams & Topicals for Acne

  1. Best Overall:CBDistillery CBDefine Cream | full review
  2. Best Value: Lazarus Naturals CBD Balm | full review
  3. Best Balm: CBDfx Calming Balm Stick | full review
  4. Best Formula: CBDMEDIC Acne Cream | full review
  5. Travel Size: PlusCBD Balm | full review

CBD Terminology

  • Terpenes: aromatic plant compounds with a wide variety of beneficial properties (1).
  • Minor cannabinoids: CBN, CBG, and other beneficial cannabinoids found in smaller amounts than CBD. For hemp, THC also counts as a minor cannabinoid.
  • Hemp: non-intoxicating cannabis variety with high CBD and low THC levels (less than 0.3%).
  • Full-spectrum: whole-plant hemp extract containing multiple cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. This form of CBD is about 4 times more potent than pure CBD (2).
  • Broad-spectrum: whole-plant hemp extract similar to full-spectrum CBD, but with THC removed (may contain trace amounts).
  • CBD isolate: pure CBD with all other hemp compounds removed.

CBDefine Skin Care Cream (Best Overall)

CBD Potency 17.6 mg/g
Volume 28.4 g
Total CBD 500 mg
Cost per mg CBD $0.10
Type Full-spectrum
Third-Party Test View report

Use coupon code CBDTHINKER for 15% off

Pros:

  • Full-spectrum CBD
  • Additional anti-acne ingredients
  • U.S. Hemp Authority-certified

Cons:

  • Only one strength

Our top choice for acne goes to CBDistillery’s skincare cream. It contains 500 mg of full-spectrum CBD, so you’re getting the complete benefits of hemp. It also has other natural compounds that can help with inflammation and acne, including tea tree oil and hemp seed oil.

CBDistillery’s third-party tested cream is derived from organic hemp cultivated in Colorado, the unofficial center of the American hemp industry. It’s certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, which means adherence to strict hemp production standards.

This cream costs $0.10 per mg of CBD. Compared to other CBD topicals on the market, this price is considered below-average.

Founded in 2016, CBDistillery is a popular Colorado brand known for its high quality and transparency.

Lazarus Naturals CBD Balm (Best Value)

CBD Potency 50 mg/g
Volume 20-60 g
Total CBD 1000-3000 mg
Cost per mg CBD $0.01-0.02
Type Full-spectrum
Formulas 3
Third-Party Tests View report

Pros:

  • Unbeatable value
  • Full-spectrum CBD
  • USDA-certified organic hemp source

Cons:

  • Lacks additional active ingredients

If you’re looking for the best value, we recommend the full-spectrum CBD balm from Oregon’s Lazarus Naturals.

It costs only $0.01–0.02 per mg of CBD. Not only is this one of the lowest prices on the market but it also comes with the quality that Lazarus Naturals is known for.

This balm contains 1000-3000 mg of full-spectrum CBD plus standard skincare ingredients such as beeswax and mango butter. It’s also one of the most potent CBD topicals available, providing 50 mg CBD per gram.

Although you don’t necessarily need a high-potency CBD product for acne, this does mean you can use smaller doses to get even more value.

Lazarus Naturals is an employee-owned company and directly grows its hemp in Central Oregon — a rarity among CBD companies. It also provides comprehensive third-party test reports directly on each product page to confirm the safety and potency of its products.

CBDfx Calming CBD Balm Stick (Best Balm)

CBD Potency 12.5-50 mg/ml
Volume 60 ml
Total CBD 750-3000 mg
Cost per mg CBD $0.03-0.05
Type Broad-spectrum
Third-Party Test View report

Use coupon code TAKE15 for 15% off

Pros:

  • Additional anti-acne ingredients
  • Excellent price

Cons:

  • Not a full-spectrum CBD product

One of America’s top CBD brands, CBDfx is our go-to pick for an anti-acne balm. It contains 750 or 3000 mg of pure CBD in a 2 oz (60 ml) jar.

Each balm stick includes all-natural skincare ingredients that can moisturize, reduce inflammation, and help with other acne symptoms, including tea tree oil, lavender, and chamomile.

This balm is derived from organic Kentucky hemp. Like all CBDfx products, it undergoes comprehensive third-party testing to verify its safety and potency, with the results available online.

CBDfx’s calming balm costs only $0.03-0.05 per mg of CBD. Relative to other CBD topicals, that’s an exceptionally low cost.

CBDMEDIC Acne Treatment Medicated Cream (Best Formula)

CBD Potency 5 mg/g
Volume 40 g
Total CBD 200 mg
Cost per mg CBD $0.15
Type Broad-spectrum
Third-Party Test View report

Use coupon code CWEB10 for 10% off

Pros:

  • Contains anti-acne salicylic acid and other anti-acne compounds
  • Made specifically for acne

Cons:

  • Need product batch number to view third-party test report

This cream from CBDMEDIC has an impressive anti-acne formula. It contains 200 mg of broad-spectrum CBD alongside 1% salicylic acid, one of the most reliable anti-acne ingredients out there (4).

It also carries other natural compounds that can help with acne, including bentonite, tea tree oil, and zinc.

This cream is sourced from organic American hemp and tested by a third-party lab to verify its CBD content. It costs $0.15 per mg of CBD. Considering that you’re also getting salicylic acid, that’s a good price point for a CBD topical.

CBDMEDIC is part of Charlotte’s Web, one of the oldest and most reputable CBD brands in the industry.

PlusCBD CBD Balm (Travel-Size)

CBD Potency 3.8 mg/g
Volume 12 g (0.4 oz)
Total CBD 45 mg
Cost per mg CBD $0.33
Type Full-spectrum
Third-Party Test View report

Use coupon code FIRST20 for 20% off

Pros:

  • Full-spectrum CBD
  • Added ingredients that can help with acne

Cons:

For those who want a product they can use on the go, PlusCBD Oil’s hemp stick is a great option. This balm is made with 45 mg of full-spectrum CBD and other ingredients that can reduce inflammation and help with acne, such as sweet almond oil and white willow bark.

PlusCBD’s travel-size balm costs $0.33 per mg of CBD, which is a bit pricey. But it makes sense since the product is small and contains many added ingredients.

One of the first companies to offer CBD products in the U.S., PlusCBD is known for its scientific approach. It tests all of its products in-house in addition to third-party testing.

On top of that, it’s one of the only CBD brands that holds both self-affirmed Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status and U.S. Hemp Authority Certification, two programs that highlight high quality manufacturing standards.

How We Choose CBD Products

Here are the key criteria we use to choose the best CBD creams and other CBD products.

Look for Third-Party Tested Brands

Third-party testing is the best way to confirm the efficacy and safety of CBD products. These tests are done by an independent laboratory that checks whether a given product carries as much CBD as it says on the label.

Third-party tests can also look for the presence of pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants that may be harmful to the skin.

In this day and age, all reputable CBD companies utilize third-party testing and share the test results publicly on their websites. A lack of these tests is a big red flag.

Check the Hemp Source

CBD comes from hemp, which means the plant quality and cultivation process are important. The best American hemp is organic and grown in one of three states: Colorado, Kentucky, and Oregon.

European countries are also an excellent source of hemp because many have been growing it continuously for centuries.

It’s even better if the company grows and extracts its hemp directly instead of buying it from another producer or uses USDA-certified organic hemp. You can find all of this info on the company website.

Choose Full-Spectrum CBD When Possible

As we highlighted at the beginning of the article, there are three main types of CBD: isolate, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum.

If you want to get the best effects out of a CBD product for acne or any other health issue, it’s best to use a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum product because they contain multiple cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial hemp compounds.

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Whole-plant CBD products benefit from the cannabis “entourage effect” — the combined effects of all these compounds working together in synergy, rather than CBD by itself (2).

Buying Guide for CBD Products for Acne

In this section, we’ll cover everything you need to know about topical CBD products and how they can help with acne.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 121 compounds called cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the cannabinoid most of us are familiar with — CBD is non-intoxicating. That means it doesn’t get you high.

That’s why many people are using CBD-based products to benefit their health without any of the mind-altering effects of cannabis. CBD can provide numerous health benefits ranging from reducing anxiety to alleviating seizures.

What are CBD Topicals?

Unlike CBD oil, topical CBD products are designed to be used directly on the skin. They can’t penetrate deep enough to reach the bloodstream, so they’re highly unlikely to cause any side effects.

CBD topicals come in many forms, including lotions and creams, balms and salves, oils and serums, and even cleansers. Although these products can have different uses, they all work as a way of applying CBD to your skin for beneficial effects.

Aside from CBD, topicals often contain many of the same natural, beneficial ingredients you’d see in standard skincare products. These can include common substances such as:

  • essential oils, like lavender and peppermint oil
  • shea and cocoa butter
  • beeswax
  • coconut oil
  • aloe vera
  • vitamin E

Also, CBD topicals designed specifically for acne can contain popular anti-acne ingredients such as salicylic acid and charcoal. The precise ingredient list will vary depending on the product.

What is Acne?

Also known as acne vulgaris, acne is a skin disorder characterized by pimples (blackheads and whiteheads), oily skin, and scarring. Acne occurs as a result of your hair follicles becoming clogged with dead skin cells and oil.

Acne usually appears on the face, but can also occur on your chest, shoulders, back, and other parts of the body. It can happen in people of all ages, although teenagers are the most commonly affected group.

Health experts estimate that acne affects about 9.4% of the world population, making it the 8th most prevalent disease (5).

The causal factors of acne include:

  • Overproduction of sebum, the oily substance produced by your sebaceous glands to lubricate the skin
  • Inflammation of sebocytes, the skin cells that make up the sebaceous glands
  • Overgrowth of Cutibacterium acnes bacteria

Acne can be treated with a wide variety of approaches, including drugs and dietary changes. However, standard treatments are not always effective and can cause significant side effects.

CBD and Acne: The Research Evidence

Research into CBD’s anti-acne effects has only just begun. However, the findings are promising and suggest that CBD can help with acne in several ways.

One 2019 study looked at the effects of a CBD-infused gel in people with psoriasis, eczema, and scars from acne and these two conditions. The researchers found that CBD alleviated psoriasis symptoms, reduced scars and blemishes, and improved measures of skin health such as elasticity and hydration (6).

Meanwhile, the researchers of a 2014 study applied CBD to human sebocytes, skin cells that produce the oily sebum implicated in acne.

They found that CBD lowered inflammation, the production of new sebocyte cells, and the secretion of sebum, three processes involved in causing acne (7). The researchers concluded that “CBD has potential…for the treatment of acne vulgaris.”

How Does CBD Help With Acne?

As noted by the study above, CBD can improve acne by reducing inflammation and the production of sebum. It achieves this by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) (8).

This system helps our bodies maintain a healthy state of balance called homeostasis. To do so, it regulates key processes, such as pain, immune function, sleep, mood, appetite, and digestion.

The ECS and its receptors are present in every part of the body, including the skin. Research suggests that it plays an important role in skin health by regulating inflammation, skin cell growth, and other processes (9).

CBD supports healthy endocannabinoid system function by reducing the breakdown of anandamide, one of the two main endocannabinoid made by our bodies (10).

Another way CBD can fight acne is through its antimicrobial properties (11). There’s some evidence that overgrowth of Propionibacterium acnes and other skin bacteria is involved in acne (12).

Are CBD Topicals Safe?

CBD is considered a generally safe compound with few and minor side effects (13).

More importantly, because CBD cannot penetrate the skin effectively enough to reach the bloodstream, topical products are unlikely to cause drowsiness or other side effects that can occur with ingested products such as tinctures.

Having said that, it’s possible to experience an allergic skin reaction from other ingredients present in CBD topicals, such as terpenes.

Topical CBD Dosage for Acne

Topical CBD products can range in potency from as little as 0.5 mg of CBD per ml to as high as 20 mg/ml.

There isn’t enough research to suggest the ideal dosage of CBD for acne. Furthermore, the dose can depend on multiple factors, such as the severity of your symptoms and the formulation you’re using.

As such, the best approach is to start with the dose recommended by your product, assess the effects, and gradually increase until you start experiencing the desired effects.

Topicals vs. Other CBD Products

There are some key differences between topicals and other types of CBD products:

  • Application: Topicals are applied to the skin rather than taken internally.
  • Effects: The effects of topicals are felt in the area applied rather than the whole body (14).
  • Onset time: Topicals typically start working within minutes and their effects can last about as long as tinctures.
  • Dosage: Topicals are harder to dose because you can’t measure the amount as easily as other methods.
  • Price: Topicals tend to cost more than most other CBD products, especially if you use a specialized, multi-ingredient product like a lotion.

How To Apply CBD Topicals for Acne

As with any skincare product, you can apply a CBD topical directly to the area of skin affected by acne pimples or scarring. Make sure the area is clean and dry and massage the product into the skin for best results.

It’s best to start with a small amount and see if you achieve the desired effects. You can always apply more later if needed or use a higher dose next time.

Can Topical CBD Cause a Failed Drug Test for THC?

As noted above, it’s highly unlikely that a topical CBD product containing THC will cause you to fail a drug test. That’s because cannabinoids cannot effectively penetrate the skin to reach the bloodstream.

However, research in this area is still ongoing. If you don’t want to take any risks, it’s best to use products made with CBD isolate (pure CBD) or broad-spectrum CBD.

Can You Apply Regular CBD Oil to Acne?

You can also apply regular CBD oil to your skin to help with acne and other conditions. However, this won’t produce the best results because it’s meant to be taken sublingually (under the tongue).

Summing Up: CBD for Acne

Our top pick for the best CBD cream for acne is the CBDefine skincare cream from CBDistillery. It’s full-spectrum, contains other anti-acne ingredients, made by one of the most reputable CBD brands, and comes at an affordable price.

If you’re interested in trying out CBD for acne we recommend using a topical product rather than a sublingual CBD oil. Topical CBD products act directly on the skin area they’re applied to, which is the best way to combat acne.

As an added benefit, you don’t need to worry about any side effects because CBD is highly unlikely to reach the bloodstream when applied to the skin.

References

Gleb is a freelance writer from Vancouver, Canada specializing in CBD and cannabis. He’s read thousands of studies on CBD and other supplements, helping him translate complex science into plain language. Gleb has tried and reviewed dozens of CBD brands and products, written third-party testing reports, and knows the CBD industry inside and out. When not writing, he likes to kickbox, travel, and tell everyone how awesome intermittent fasting is.

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CBD for Acne: Skin Benefits and Research

Most people have experienced acne at some point in their lives, and for some of us, it can take years to find a solution. Harsh ingredients, prescription medications, and expensive trips to the dermatologist can throw your skin out of balance, and cost you a lot of money in the long run. In search of a better treatment option, some people are starting to use CBD for acne.

What is CBD Oil for Acne?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in cannabis plants, although it is typically extracted from a specific strain known as hemp. CBD oil, sometimes also referred to as hemp oil, has many beneficial advantages when applied to the skin thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which suggests that CBD may treat acne and soothe the skin.

How Does It Work?

Our bodies are equipped with an endocannabinoid system, which helps us regulate hormones and maintain balance. This system is comprised of cannabinoid receptors all throughout the body (including on the surface of skin). CBD stimulates these receptors and can help balance sebum oil production in sebaceous glands, or hair follicles. This prevents excess oil and dead skin cells from clogging pores, which causes acne. The effects of CBD also reduce inflammation, swelling, and redness of irritated skin.

How to Use CBD for Acne

CBD oil on its own is too potent to be applied directly to skin since it contains many highly concentrated plant extracts that may overwhelm the skin, potentially causing minor irritation. Because of this, the best way to use CBD for acne is to find the best CBD cream or topical for the job.

Best CBD for Acne Products

Plant People Face Serum

Perfect for any skin type, this luxurious face serum contains 300mg of cannabinoids, like CBD and CBC, as well as other natural plant botanicals to even complexion and smooth fine lines. And for extra exfoliation to unclog pores, Plant People also offers a CBD-infused face mask to leave skin feeling extra smooth and refreshed.

Medterra CBD Manuka Honey Cream

Made with powerful manuka honey from New Zealand, this expertly blended cream features THC free CBD extract and 20 organic and all-natural botanical ingredients that help to soothe and nourish the skin. It’s available in two concentrations, either 125mg or 250mg of CBD per container.

CBD Medic Acne Treatment Cream

For any acne-related skin problem, this topical cream is specially formulated to target blackheads, whiteheads, and other blemishes with the help of CBD and other natural ingredients. For the ultimate acne treatment, you can pair this cream with the CBDMedic acne foaming facial cleanser for an enhanced two-step process.

In lieu of a CBD-infused topical, you can also choose to make your own acne treatment using a CBD oil and a carrier oil. This alternative option allows you to curate your own CBD acne treatment using some of the most popular carrier oils, like argan oil, jojoba oil, and hemp seed oil, which can benefit your skin in additional ways.

Tips for Using CBD Oil for Acne

Strong CBD oils can have many benefits when taken as a dietary supplement, but if your only intended use is for skin application, you can opt for a less potent tincture (less than 1,000mg of CBD).

When shopping for CBD oil, always look for independent third party lab test results. This will help ensure that you are getting a product that is free of any harmful chemicals and contains the posted amount of CBD content.

Overall Benefits of CBD Oil for Skin

Thanks to the thousands of cannabinoid receptors within our skin, CBD has many advantages when applied topically. Our skin absorbs CBD molecules to create benefits that extend beyond acne reduction to include:

  • Reduced fine lines and wrinkles—Environmental pollutants and other stressors can lead to skin damage and premature aging, but the antioxidants in CBD oil are believed to have some anti-aging benefits to inhibit free radical production and protect skin cells.
  • Moisturize and nourish skin—Much like the ability of CBD oil to reduce acne by regulating oil production, it also offers healthy moisturization by stimulating sebum production when it is lacking, but without making skin oily.

The various benefits of CBD skin care have caused many people to introduce this cannabis extract into their beauty routine, but it’s important to first do your research and buy the high quality CBD oil products.

Is It Safe to Use CBD for Acne?

As a potential acne treatment, CBD has an impressive therapeutic index according to one study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, which showed various “anti-acne actions” within skin cells.

While more research on the efficacy of CBD oil for acne and other skin conditions needs to be conducted, the current scientific landscape suggests that there are little to no side effects associated with applying CBD products topically. However, you should always check the label to ensure that you aren’t allergic to any of the other ingredients within a product. We also suggest testing out any new product or CBD oil mixture on a patch of skin before applying it to your entire face.

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What to Know About CBD Skin-Care Products

Research on this trendy skin-care ingredient is limited. Read this comprehensive guide before you buy.

Before slathering a CBD skin-care product all over your face, test it on a small area of skin, such as your forearm. iStock (2)

Few ingredients have taken skin care by storm quite like CBD. And if you look carefully, it’s everywhere: in sunscreens, masks, lip balms, moisturizers, and more. The question is: Should you really be slathering this stuff on your skin?

First, let’s talk about what CBD is. Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active ingredient in the cannabis plant, according to Harvard Health Publishing. CBD can be derived from either medical marijuana or hemp. Although marijuana contains CBD, CBD doesn’t have psychoactive effects. (THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical that causes the high.) All that said, CBD won’t lead to any mind-altering effects.

The Proposed Benefits of Skin-Care Products With CBD

Experts attribute the popularity of CBD to its “do anything” reputation. In fact, many people turn to CBD in the hope of treating various ailments, including anxiety, insomnia, pain conditions, and now — increasingly, it seems — skin problems.

In general, manufacturers add CBD to their products to give them a boost. “CBD is a very cost-effective way to enhance products,” says Austin Katz, cofounder of Sheabrand in Brooklyn, New York. CBD is in a range of products — those that claim to treat acne, dry skin, and eczema — because of its versatility. “I think we’re living in an era where people want to feel empowered to address their needs on their own,” he says.

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CBD Skincare

Scientific research on the use of CBD in skin-care products is limited. If you’re interested in trying this trend, here’s what a board-certified dermatologist wants you to know.

Potentially Helps Inflammation, Eczema, and Psoriasis

One of the touted functions of CBD is controlling inflammation. “The body has two CBD receptors that we know of: CB1 and CB2,” says Robert Dellavalle, MD, PhD, adjunct professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora. When applied to skin, CBD interacts with these receptors to turn down the inflammatory response. This happens by “decreasing the interleukins, which are chemicals that are like the immune system’s fire alarm that calls the fire department in an emergency. CBD may decrease the loudness of that fire alarm,” he explains.

In short, you may see less redness overall, and in skin diseases, including eczema and psoriasis, it may also be effective in tamping down itch, possibly because CBD creams may help reduce dryness, per a review published in July 2017 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (Dr. Dellavalle was a coauthor of that report.) Keep in mind, though, that the review included only three studies: two in humans but with small sample sizes and one in mice, which doesn’t necessarily translate to human health. Therefore, more studies on the potential benefits of CBD for reducing skin redness are needed.

Additionally, a small study published in the March-April 2019 issue of the Italian journal Clinical Therapeutics looked at 20 participants with either psoriasis, eczema, or scarring and found that a specific CBD ointment improved measures of skin hydration (by moisturizing and preventing water loss), boosted elasticity in the skin, and in general bettered their quality of life. This could have been due to the fatty acids in the ointment but was also likely in part because of the anti-inflammatory effect of CBD, the researchers say. Yet more research in a larger human population is needed to know for sure.

For many skin diseases, dermatologists often prescribe topical steroid creams, which act as anti-inflammatory medicines. “These are very safe for most people, and they’re effective, but some people don’t want to use steroids in any way. CBD could be a nonsteroidal therapy to fill that gap,” says Dellavalle. Side effects of topical steroids include thinning of the skin if overused or used long term, but you can help avoid these risks when using them correctly, notes the National Eczema Association. Working with your dermatologist to ensure that you have the right medication at the right dosage can help with this.

Indeed, Mona Gohara, MD, a dermatologist in Hamden, Connecticut, and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, prefers to use CBD “in inflammatory skin conditions as they’re fizzling out.” She adds, “I recommend generally using a medication to put out the fire and then using CBD to clean up the carnage.”

Beyond that, though, is the potential to use CBD as a tool to delay early signs of aging. “Inflammation is the basis of all skin disease, including aging,” she says. But while there’s a lot of hype surrounding CBD in skin care — and health in general — there is no cure-all. “Everything has its advantages and disadvantages or limitations,” says Dr. Gohara.

Possibly Plays a Role in Treating Acne

Along with being a potential therapy for inflammatory skin diseases, CBD is also featured in some anti-acne products. For instance, Mantra Mask’s CBD Blemish Mask combines CBD and pimple-fighting tea tree oil. “There are CB2 receptors on sebaceous glands, which produce oil. According to research, CBD influences the sebum production of cells and has an anti-inflammatory component,” says Jeanette Jacknin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Solana Beach, California, who specializes in CBD skin care. This echoes findings outlined in articles previously published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation and Experimental Dermatology.

Dr. Jacknin also points to preliminary research presented in June 2019 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology that found topical CBD may help kill a range of gram-positive bacteria. “This bacteria is one cause of acne,” she says. (For the study, researchers collaborated with Botanix Pharmaceuticals, a company that develops products to treat skin diseases like acne and psoriasis.)

May Decrease Inflammation From Sunburns

Finally, one of the newest uses for CBD skin care is in sunscreen. Dellavalle notes that it does make sense to add CBD to sunscreen, as its anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce the effects of a sunburn, such as redness. Of course, the idea is to apply sunscreen correctly (following guidelines from the American Academy of Dermatology), but in real life, many people miss areas, and applying a CBD-infused SPF may supply more general absorption and temper the reaction of sunburned spots, he says.

What Scientific Evidence Doesn’t Yet Tell Us About CBD for Skin Care

If CBD sounds like the answer to your skin woes, it’s helpful to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. “What we don’t have in CBD is a lot of research. [CBD has] been illegal federally for so long, and it’s been difficult to do research on something that’s previously been considered on par with cocaine or heroin,” says Dellavalle. That’s starting to change, though. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the definition of marijuana, which meant that CBD products were no longer considered like marijuana. This has paved the way for researchers to conduct more studies on CBD, and for product manufacturers to create and sell CBD products legally, though per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is still illegal to market CBD as a supplement.

A review published in June 2018 in the Dermatology Online Journal, which Dellavalle coauthored, pointed out that while CBD may “have shown some initial promise as therapy for a variety of skin diseases,” there is a need for large, high-quality, randomized, controlled trials, a sentiment echoed in an article published in December 2020 in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Another paper, published in the May-June 2019 issue of Clinics in Dermatology, urges people and their doctors to approach these products with the same caution. Finally, though topical CBD tends to be well tolerated and may have a role in addressing various skin issues (including acne, dryness, and irritation), there’s still ongoing research on the safety of CBD treatment, notes an article published in 2020 in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology.

Unknowns About CBD Dosage

Scientists still don’t know the ideal dose of CBD for treating skin conditions or promoting general health. Some companies, like Sheabrand, formulate with different doses depending on the area of skin the product is designed for — the body or the face, for instance — for maximum penetration. Scientists also don’t know where CBD stands in relation to proven topical therapies, like retinoids, vitamin C, or alpha hydroxy acids.

Questions About Cannabinoid Combinations

There are hundreds of other chemicals in the cannabis plant, and researchers don’t know what combinations are best. For instance, terpenes, the essential oils in plants (including cannabis), may exert synergistic benefits, suggests the Clinical Therapeutics study. “So much research needs to be done. We’ll be sorting this out for the next 25 years,” says Dellavalle. On the horizon with more research from universities and companies, says Jackin, may be more targeted and efficacious therapies for conditions like eczema and acne.

8 Steps to Take Before Trying a CBD Skin-Care Product

For now, know that CBD products are safe in general, and early research suggests that they may make a difference in how your skin looks and feels. Just don’t count on it as a cure-all for any skin condition. In other words, talk to your dermatologist before replacing products they have recommended with ones containing CBD, and don’t treat any new skin conditions with CBD products until you speak to your dermatologist. If you’re interested in venturing into CBD skin care, here’s what you need to know before you buy and try: