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CBD for acne, oily and blemish prone skin

Around 70-80% of people suffer from oily, blemishes or acne-prone skin, varying in severity and complexity. Approximately 15% of those affected are adults. While the condition is not life-threatening, the impairment of quality of life can be tremendous.

The current treatments and medications are variably effective. Typical products for blemishes and mild to moderate acne-prone skin can be quite harsh, leaving the skin irritated and causing even more unbalance.

The latest studies on human skin show that CBD oil is a novel anti-acne agent, effectively restoring, blemished or acne-prone skin. Fortunately, for those who have tried all conventional methods, or for those who are looking for a plant-based natural solution, CBD may be your skin care answer. It’s skin-friendly, safe and doesn’t over-dry or aggravate the skin.


Major causes for acne prone skin and blemishes

Acne is a common skin disease characterized by 3 important factors:

  • increased sebum production
  • un unwanted growth of sebocytes
  • inflammation of the sebaceous glands


Sebocytes are cells that make up the sebaceous glands. These glands on our skin secrete sebum, a lipid (oily) substance. In normal skin, sebum helps to protect (waterproof) our skin.


However, overproduction of sebum may interfere with the normal skin shedding and become one of the major triggers of acne-prone skin. Dead skin cells can build up in the hair follicle and form together a soft plug, causing whiteheads or blackheads. Clogged pores allow bacteria to breed, causing inflammation. When blocked hair follicles become inflamed or infected pimples (papules or pustules) develop.

While various factors can cause an excessive sebum secretion, hormonal changes, genetic background, diet and stress play an important role. There are also local inflammatory factors, such as Propionibacteria, that can accumulate and cause inflammation.


The surprising role CBD has on sebum production

cbd resin for acne

Recent series of scientific studies1 discover that among many other tissues and organs, endocannabinoid system is expressed in the skin, found in various cutaneous cell types. Sebaceous glands have their own endocannabinoid receptors as well.

A study by Biro O. A. et al found that applying endocannabinoids to the cells dramatically up-regulated (increased) sebum production1. That made his research group wonder, whether phytocannabinoids, cannabinoids derived from the hemp plant, could affect the process of sebum production2.

By coincidence, the research group chose to test this hypothesis with CBD, rather than THC, because there is no restriction for its use2. Because it’s non-psychoactive, it would be much more convenient to use for people with skin problems.

When CBD was applied to skin cells, expecting CBD would further stimulate lipid synthesis, CBD did exactly the opposite of endocannabinoids. It didn’t stimulate, but inhibited lipid synthesis, especially if the lipid synthesis was previously upregulated, as for example in acne.

CBD also inhibits the effects of other inflammatory mediators, such as steroid hormones that stimulate fat production in these cells2.


The role of CBD's anti-inflammatory properties on acne-prone skin

Acne, pimples and blemishes are accompanied by inflammation of the sebaceous glands. This is where endocannabinoid system steps in. It plays a key role in regulating several fundamental aspects of skin homeostasis. Its anti-inflammatory signalling can stop pro-inflammatory responses4.

Moreover, appropriate endocannabinoid signalling through CB1 and CB2 receptors is crucially important in keeping skin inflammatory processes under control3.

Research shows that CBD exerts universal anti-inflammatory actions through “nonclassical” cannabinoid pathways, such as through vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) ion channels and by activation of A2A adenosine receptors4.


CBD decreases unwanted growth of sebocytes

Like a proper anti-acne-agent, CBD decreases proliferation of human sebocyte cells. A study by Biro O. A. et al shows that growth of sebocytes was significantly reduced in the presence of CBD4.

Interestingly, CBD did not affect the viability of cells. This is in contrast to the effects of typical Vitamin A products for acne, which inhibit the fat production of sebocytes by killing them2.

The good news for typical oily, combination, blemish and acne-prone skin is that phytocannabinoid CBD can help the skin find its balance. Due to its combined lipostatic, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory effects, CBD has potential as a promising therapeutic agent for soothing inflammation-accompanied skin problems.


  1. Oláh A., Tóth B.I., Borbíró I., Sugawara K., Szöllõsi A.G., Czifra G., Pál B., Ambrus L., Kloepper J., Camera E., Ludovici M., Picardo M., Voets T., Zouboulis C.C., Paus R., Bíró T. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. J. Clin. Invest. 2014;124:3713–3724
  2. Gardner, F., New Hope in the War on Zits, Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Acne, O’Shaughnessy’s.
  3. Karsak M1, Gaffal E, Date R, Wang-Eckhardt L, Rehnelt J, Petrosino S, Starowicz K, Steuder R, Schlicker E, Cravatt B, Mechoulam R, Buettner R, Werner S, Di Marzo V, Tüting T, Zimmer A. Attenuation of allergic contact dermatitis through the endocannabinoid system. Science. 2007 Jun 8;316(5830):1494-7.
  4. Oláha A., Bíró T. Targeting Cutaneous Cannabinoid Signaling in Inflammation - A “High”-way to Heal EBioMedicine. 2017 Feb; 16: 3–5.

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