CBD Element

CBD and Skin

Thursday, December 31, 2020 • 6 minute read

CBD is being marketed as a skin care product designed to help with a variety of problems from acne to reducing wrinkles. These CBD infused products are gaining increased popularity and the number of products has exploded.

You can find CBD in soaps, creams, balms, gels, lotions, the list is endless… but are there any benefits of applying CBD to your skin or is it just a marketing trick?

What are the benefits of CBD for Skin?

The basis of incorporating CBD into beauty products is to take advantage of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (1). Studies have demonstrated that CBD has an anti-inflammatory effect due to its action with CB1 and CB2 receptors, found in the endocannabinoid system (2).

CBD has been shown to modify the level and activity of both oxidants and antioxidants. CBD captures free radicals and transforms them into less active forms (1). These anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties are believed to help with preventing skin damage and to reduce wrinkles.

Can CBD help with Acne?

Acne is caused when small holes in the skin, known as hair follicles, become blocked.

Sebaceous glands are tiny glands found near the surface of your skin. The glands are attached to hair follicles, which are small holes in your skin where individual hairs grow. Sebaceous glands produce an oily substance called sebum to lubricate the hair and the skin to stop it drying out. In acne, the glands begin to produce too much sebum. The excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells and both substances form a plug in the follicle which causes acne.

Researchers found that CBD inhibited oil production and also had anti-inflammatory effects on sebaceous glands (3). They concluded that CBD has some promising results for the treatment of acne, however there needs to be more thorough clinical studies to explore the potential treatment of CBD for acne.

Can CBD help with Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales.

These patches normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can appear anywhere on your body. The severity of psoriasis varies greatly from person to person. People with psoriasis have an over production of skin cells. New skin cells are typically made and replaced every 3 to 4 weeks, but in psoriasis this process only takes about 3 to 7 days. This results in a build-up of skin cells is what creates the patches associated with psoriasis.

One preliminary study found that cannabinoids, such as CBD, slowed down the growth and division of skin cells involved in psoriasis skin rashes (4). Another small study of five psoriasis patients showed that applying topical CBD-enriched ointment on psoriatic skin did help to reduce psoriasis symptoms. (5) This results are promising but more thorough studies with larger sample sizes are needed to conclude whether CBD is a viable treatment option for psoriasis.

Final Thoughts

Dermatologists are unlikely to recommend CBD for Psoriasis and acne because it has not been tested thoroughly. CBD is very safe to apply on your skin; if you do have a reaction to a CBD product it is likely to have been caused by another compound in the product.

There are theoretical benefits of applying CBD to your skin, however CBD beauty products are usually combined with other substances like moisturisers and it’s tough to pinpoint whether the CBD is causing the beneficial effect.

Many CBD beauty products contain very little CBD content. Also, some of these products contain hemp seed oil rather than CBD. Despite Hemp seed oil being rich in various nutrients and minerals, it lacks the same anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of CBD.

CBD Element recommends that you look carefully at the listed ingredients on CBD beauty products before making a purchasing decision


  1. Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I. and Skrzydlewska, E., 2020. Antioxidative And Anti-Inflammatory Properties Of Cannabidiol. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7023045/.

  2. Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S.A., Hegde, V.L. and Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Medicinal Chemistry, [online] 1(7), pp.1333–1349. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/.

  3. 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. and Bíró, T. (2014). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, [online] 124(9), pp.3713–3724. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25061872

  4. Wilkinson, J.D. and Williamson, E.M. (2007). Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of psoriasis. Journal of dermatological science, [online] 45(2), pp.87–92. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17157480.

  5. Palmieri, B., Laurino, C. and Vadalà, M. (2019). A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars Clinical trial. Clin Ter, [online] 170(2), pp.93–99. Available at: https://www.clinicaterapeutica.it/2019/170/2/05_PALMIERI-VADALA.pdf [Accessed 26 Sep. 2020].