Written by Stefan K.

CBD and Acne

At first, It is just a few small blackheads spoiling your complexion. But not long after, the spots start to develop. They might seem harmless, but they can cause unpleasant skin inflammations in those affected, which can also have psychological effects. A cycle begins. Some 85% of people in the UK end up suffering from acne at some point in their lives. The findings of a number of studies now show that CBD can have a positive impact on acne. CBD counters sebum production and has anti-inflammatory properties. Best of all: CBD is well tolerated by those with acne and does not produce side-effects.

Acne – Our bodies’ reactions

Increased keratinisation of the cells leads to an excess of keratin in the skin. This process blocks the pores. The increased quantities of sebum which are produced (follicular hyperkeratosis) can no longer escape and pimples form. A number of factors play a role in this skin condition:

  • diet (sweets, dairy products) 
  • psychological stress 
  • hormonal changes 
  • cosmetics
  • medication 
  • genetic predisposition
  • UV radiation 
  • humidity levels 
  • heat

Symptoms of acne 

Acne can have a number of different effects on the body. More than anything else, the processes involved in acne result in greasy skin, pustules (pus-filled spots), pimples and comedones (blackheads and whiteheads). In the worst cases, comedos can end up being colonised by a certain bacterium (Cutibacterium acnes), resulting in inflammation. Acne vulgaris mostly occurs on those areas of the body where there are a lot of sebaceous glands. The formation of pus, which can develop into painful lumps, is particularly common in the face and on the back. After healing, the spots can turn into acne scars if treated incorrectly.

Conventional therapy – What remedies are there for acne?

There are a lot of products on the market which are supposed to help against acne. People usually try out a number of different approaches when it comes to dealing with these irritating spots. There are two different ways to deal with clogged pores. A distinction is made between internal and external applications. Externally, creams, gels or salves  are applied, whilst internally, medication is taken to counter the condition. It is not recommended to squeeze the spots yourself, as this can lead to ugly acne scars, as already mentioned. 

Treatment with medication  

A visit to the dermatologist may well end up resulting in a prescription for treatment with antibiotics. Combined with creams, however, the pills should not be taken for more than two to three months. Antibiotics can cause severe side effects and are therefore only administered and recommended on a restricted basis. As acne can be caused by hormonal changes, hormone preparations are another conventional remedy which can be used. You can consult your dermatologist regarding this type of treatment. 

Hormone preparations need at least six months in order to take effect. The most effective kinds of medication which can be used to treat serious cases of acne are retinoids (isotretinoin). Unfortunately, this active substance can have powerful side-effects. During pregnancy, retinoids are not an option. There are other remedies for acne, such as azelaic acid, which reduces the keratinisation of the sebaceous glands and has anti-inflammatory as well as antibacterial effects. Alpha-hydroxy acid is used to open the pores, thus counteracting acne. All of these are chemical bludgeons which you would probably be happy avoid. 

Acne Creams etc. 

First of all: experts advise not to over-apply creams and the like to the areas of skin which are affected by acne. Warm water or pH-neutral, fragrance-free washing lotions are sometimes better than rubbing chemicals into your face. Incorrect care just irritates the skin even more, rather than helping it to regenerate. The natural environment of the skin is destroyed, instead leading to a proliferation of acne.
Oily creams, as well as make-up and sunscreens, worsen the condition of acne-stricken facial skin.

Certain creams, however, can counteract acne. Antibiotic creams for example, aggressively counteract pimples and inhibit the growth of bacteria. Creams which contain benzoyl peroxide kill bacteria and act against inflammatory forms of acne. Soothing natural creams containing propolis or chamomile can help the skin to relax. 

  • CBD oil – The number 1 of all CBD products

    CBD oil is by far the most popular CBD product. The main reason is, that CBD oil is easy to dispense and easy to take. It comes in different concentrations and there is a CBD oil for every user and for every indication where CBD can help. CBD usually comes as full-spectrum oil (made from an extract) or as pure CBD oil (made from CBD crystals). In most cases it is based on hemp seed oil or MCT oil.

  • Less common but great: CBD paste

    CBD paste usually comes in a dosing syringe. In most cases it is a soft, brown to green mass and easy to dispense. CBD paste is practically an early form of CBD oil and usually contains numerous cannabinoids and terpenes. CBD paste comes in different sizes and CBD concentrations.
  • CBD flowers – looks like cannabis

    The most natural and at the same time most controversial form of CBD products are CBD flowers. From just looking at them it is pretty much impossible if they are 'just' CBD flowers or illegal cannabis. CBD flowers though do not contain much THC and are mostly smoked. Therefore, the CBD can be absorbed quickly.

  • Oil in capsules: CBD capsules

    Especially older people or people who have difficulties in dispensing CBD oil prefer to use CBD capsules. These capsules are mostly vegan and prefilled. Therefore, it is easy to take the same amount of CBD every day. CBD capsules can be found in different concentrations.

  • Fast absorption with e liquids

    Especially smokers and vapers like to use CBD e liquids. These products are great for a quick intake of CBD. CBD e liquids contain pure CBD crystals or full-spectrum extracts and can be consumed with a vape pen / e cigarette. The vapour is inhaled and absorbed through the lungs. Some studies say that this way CBD is absorbed up to 30% faster.

  • Water-soluble CBD with high bioavailability

    Water-soluble CBD, also known as liposomal CBD, has a higher bioavailability than conventional CBD oil. The CBD is solved in water on a molecular level and can therefore be absorbed in a very effective way. Some sources say that water-soluble CBD can be absorbed 5 times as good as CBD oil. Therefore, a 4% liposomal CBD product can be compared to a 20% CBD oil.

  • CBD skincare and cosmetics: Salves, creams, balms and co.

    The world of CBD skincare products is diverse and exciting. Nowadays you can find special salves, shampoo, lipstick, tattoo balms and many other products. CBD skincare and cosmetics are only for external use and are usually applied right where they are needed. Many people chose to combine the use of CBD skincare products and products such as CBD oil.

  • CBD an food and sweets (edibles)

    CBD edibles grow in popularity. In the US and Canada cannabis edibles have been popular for years. There is also a growing number of CBD edibles such as gummy bears, cookies or lollypops in the market.

  • CBD chewing gums for quick intake

    The fastest way to absorb CBD is through the oral mucosa. Therefore, CBD chewing gums are a good options to quickly take some CBD. It looks inconspicuous and is perfect for everyday use of small amounts of CBD. Therefore, nowadays CBD chewing gums can be found in many drug stores.

  • The purest of all CBD products – CBD crystals

    When CBD is extracted from the plant it is often isolated and comes in the shape of CBD crystals. These crystals are odorless and tasteless. They are very pure and contain up to 99.8% CBD. CBD Crystals can be eaten or used to make CBD oil or e liquids. The main advantage: CBD crystals do not contain any THC.


CBD and acne – How can cannabidiol help against this skin condition?

Recent studies have investigated the effect of CBD on acne. The good news: CBD can be a remedy of choice for the treatment of acne. As the skin has numerous cannabinoid receptors, which plant-derived cannabinoids can also dock on to and exert their influence, CBD is considered to be a helpful ally in the fight against acne. Here, too, a distinction is made between internal and external treatment. 

The internal use of CBD against acne 

CBD, taken in the form of oil or capsules can have a positive impact in cases of acne. Taken internally, CBD primarily has the effect of regulating hormone levels. Hormones are vital chemical messengers and are often responsible for acne. The body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS) is also involved in the control of endocrine processes (hormonal processes) in the body. Because plant cannabinoids such as CBD interact with the ECS, there is a connection between CBD and the endocrine system.


Thus, in the case of acne, CBD can have a calming effect in cases of psychological stress. Psychological stress, in turn, can promote acne. One of the main jobs of the endocrine system is to regulate stress. Hormones such as adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol number amongst the most important ones. Elevated cortisol levels increase psychological stress. CBD regulates the formation of cortisol. This way, minimising stress can help to reduce acne. A number of studies confirm the relaxing effect of CBD. It is also likely that CBD will improve one’s mood and serotonin levels. These processes are bad for acne and good for your complexion.

It is also believed that CBD exerts an influence on the body’s metabolism. As CBD has a similar effect on insulin to that exerted by cortisol, insulin imbalances in the body are inhibited. Without the presence of insulin, dietary sugar cannot enter the individual cells of the body. As CBD prevents the excessive production of insulin, this particular cannabis derivative has proven itself as a force for fighting against acne. 

The external use of CBD against acne

In order to treat acne externally, creams, salves and oils which contain CBD are used. A Hungarian study carried out at the University of Debrecen investigated the effects of CBD on cell cultures of human sebaceous glands. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. In summary, these findings showed that CBD can regulate the excessive production of sebum. CBD is thus now considered to be a sebostatic agent.

The same study, which was led by Tamas Biró, also found that CBD has an extremely complex anti-inflammatory effect on pimples and pustules. 

CBD also restricts the lipid production of skin cells. Greasy skin is brought into balance, thus improving the complexion. Studies have shown that endocannabinoid receptors are found in our  sebaceous glands and hair follicles. The major endocannabinoid known as anandamide influences the body’s own lipid synthesis, of which the process of sebum production by the skin is a part. It can therefore be assumed that sebum production is controlled by the endocannabinoid system. Experts therefore see a possibility of using cannabinoids of plant origin (phytocannabinoids) against the symptoms of excess sebum which occur with acne. In short, CBD stimulates the CB2 receptors in the sebaceous glands. Theanandamide then exerts its influence on lipid synthesis, reducing sebum production. 

However, this alteration to the skin’s balance of oils does not dry the skin out. This is because cannabis creams and salves contain other ingredients such as aloe, bisabolol (from the essential oil of chamomile), dexpanthenol, hyaluronic acid, and other plant extracts. Serums for use against acne are mixed with zinc and pantothenic acid . These ingredients soothe the skin, keep pores and sebaceous glands unobstructed and provide necessary moisturisation. Products called cannabis topicals, are applied topically where they are needed.

The body absorbs the active substances via the skin. Although these salves can contain THC, they have no psychoactive effects, as the active substance is unable to enter the bloodstream. It is recommended that these products be applied 2-3 times per day.

Current situation and prospects – Using cannabidiol against acne

Of course, CBD cannot work miracles against acne, but this active ingredient can be an ally in the fight against this skin problem. As CBD has no side-effects, it may be worth giving this therapeutic approach a try. Whether taken externally or internally, CBD may help in just the way that is needed. As acne is largely hormonal in origin, a cure can usually only take place at the level of the endocrine system. In any case, CBD can be an effective remedy for treating spots and pimples, and it can also be useful even before existing imperfections in the skin have started to turn into acne. 


  • Of course, CBD cannot work miracles against acne, but this active ingredient can be an ally in the fight against this skin problem. As CBD has no side-effects, it may be worth giving this therapeutic approach a try.
  • Whether taken externally or internally, CBD may help in just the way that is needed. As acne is largely hormonal in origin, a cure can usually only take place at the level of the endocrine system.
  • In any case, CBD can be an effective remedy for treating spots and pimples, and it can also be useful even before existing imperfections in the skin have started to turn into acne.

Further studies

Taking products containing cannabinoids may result in interactions with various medications. If you are already taking medication, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.

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About the author

Stefan K.

Stefan K.

Stefan is not only a valuable part of the CannaTrust magazine but also convinces with his sound knowledge about the effects of cannabinoids. As an author in Austria he gathered valuable experiences when writing for 'Stadtblatt Salzburg'. He got in contact with cannabis through several positive media reports. Nowadays he writes about everything around the most popular cannabinoid these days: CBD.