Does cbd oil work for skin conditions?

Does cbd oil work for skin conditions?
Adam Parsons

Early research suggests that CBD might play a future role in treating disorders of the skin. The molecule appears to decrease inflammation and restore proper skin cell cycles. Read on to learn more.

Can CBD be used to nourish the skin and affect our largest organ? It seems likely. Many people consume CBD to assist with a variety of internal conditions, but it might also be useful when applied to the outside of the body.


Scientific studies suggest that CBD might help to affect common skin conditions including acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Although preliminary, this research offers a fascinating insight into how CBD might work as a therapeutic topical in the future.

Many sources tout the therapeutic nature of this non-psychoactive cannabinoid, to various degrees. Some claim that the molecule can help improve almost any health complaint, while others suggest such statements to be merely hype. This has led to a lot of confusion and scepticism.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Throughout this article, we’ll harness the power and relative neutrality of scientific research to get to the bottom of it. Topical and cosmetic CBD products are becoming more popular than ever, but do they actually work? Let’s find out.


CBD might help to benefit the skin via the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Other cannabinoids, such as THC and CBN, also produce their effects through this mechanism. The ECS spans throughout the human body and consists of three major components: cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and metabolic enzymes.

CB1 and CB2 receptors make up the receptor part of the equation, existing on many cell types. CB1 receptors primarily reside in the nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are found mostly throughout the immune system.

The ECS plays an important homeostatic role—it helps the human body to maintain biological equilibrium. It modulates pain, emotional memory, hunger, metabolism, neuroprotection, neural plasticity, immunity, inflammation, and even embryological development


CBD doesn’t reach the bloodstream when applied topically, but it can interact with the cutaneous endocannabinoid system—the ECS in the skin. The system appears to be involved in various important biological processes including proliferation, growth, differentiation, apoptosis, and hormone production. By altering these processes, CBD may help to modulate ECS function in the skin.


CBD might help manage acne by reducing the amount of oil (sebum) produced by the skin. Current research only involves cell studies, and only future clinical trials will determine the extent of effects in humans.

As one of the most common skin conditions, acne affects around 50 million people in the US alone. The condition arises when an overproduction of sebum blocks pores and causes spots, pus, and lesions to form.

Research published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation tested CBD on human sebaceous gland function—the structure that produces sebum. After administering the cannabinoid to cultured human sebocytes and skin, they found CBD to be a highly effective sebostatic agent.

CBD also demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects that might help to tackle other symptoms catalysed by acne. Overall, the researchers stated that the antiproliferative, lipostatic, and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD make the cannabinoid a “promising therapeutic agent” in the treatment of acne.


Can CBD affect symptoms of eczema? Early research seems to suggest so.

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, occurs when the skin lacks natural moisture and protection from bacteria—possibly a result of ECS dysfunction. This causes the skin to become sensitive to irritants, allergens, and other factors. Symptoms of the condition include dry skin, itching, raised bumps, and raw and swollen skin.

A 2018 study demonstrated CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties in a model of experimental allergic dermatitis. Researchers found CBD to decrease the levels of inflammatory proteins and raise the levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide.

Additional research found that CBD might boost anandamide levels by blocking its reuptake at the CB1 receptor. Interestingly, anandamide reduces the inflammatory response and promotes normal skin function via the ECS.


CBD might help manage psoriasis by regulating skin cell production.

Another common skin condition, psoriasis accelerates the life cycle of skin cells. In turn, this creates a buildup of cells on the surface of the skin that becomes itchy and painful. Researchers suggest that the endocannabinoid system could be implicated in tackling this hyperproliferative skin disease.

However, a study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science suggests that CBD might be able to treat the disease independently of the ECS. They found CBD—among other cannabinoids—to inhibit the proliferation of skin cells.

However, molecules that block cannabinoid receptors failed to prevent these effects. This told the researchers that CBD achieves these effects through other means. They concluded that CBD could play a potential role in the treatment of psoriasis.


The term “sensitive skin” appears on many cosmetic products. It doesn’t describe a specific condition. Instead, the umbrella term covers symptoms of all of the conditions mentioned above.

By helping to quell inflammation, in part by altering ECS activity, CBD generally helps to calm down the inflammatory storm associated with sensitive skin. The cannabinoid’s ability to boost anandamide concentration might also help to reduce the symptoms of pain and itch.


Changes to the skin are some of the first real signs of ageing. After all, the largest organ of the body is constantly exposed to outside elements such as the sun, wind, and cold. Skin changes associated with ageing include wrinkling, loss of elasticity, and a rough appearance. The cosmetics industry has waged war on these occurrences for decades, but no magic bullet exists.

Can CBD help in this fight? Possibly. But the research in this area needs much more tending to. So far, we know that CBD possesses antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants are known to help scavenge free radicals, thereby helping to prevent DNA damage.

The antioxidant theory of ageing states that free radical damage contributes to age-related changes. Therefore, CBD might work to defend against this damage.

So, can CBD help with skin ageing? Maybe.


In a booming CBD market, it can be confusing to know which products work best. When using CBD for skin conditions, we advise searching for high-quality products. Oils made from organic hemp and extracted using CO₂ technology minimise the chances of coming into contact with potential irritants.

When using topical CBD for the first time, test a small amount of product on the skin before applying more. The side effects are usually mild, but everyone's skin is different.

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons

As a professional cannabis journalist, author, and copywriter, Adam has been writing about all things psychoactive, CBD, and everything in between for a long time. In an ever-changing market, Adam uses his BA (Hons) Multimedia Journalism degree to keep in stride with contemporary research and contributing worthwhile information to all of his projects.