CBD Topicals and Their Treatment of Acne

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid with a wide range of applications for a variety of physical and mental conditions, including pain relief, anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasm, and others. Unlike CBD’s psychoactive cousin, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is federally legal and available in stores and by mail order nationwide. 

Many people swear by its benefits, and some even use it for their dogs to relieve nervous behavior that occurs during separation anxiety and frantic circumstances related to thunderstorms – and CBD topicals may be among the most promising.

Now there is compelling evidence that CBD may be effective in the treatment of yet another physical condition, acne. While most people develop an occasional pimple in their teen years, a smaller percentage experience acute acne during puberty and struggle with a way to address the problem, even resorting to powerful pharmaceutical medication like Accutane, which can have very serious side effects and health risks. 

Other, milder, over-the-counter acne treatments are widely available and are promoted convincingly on television. It seems that every generation has yet another wave of acne cures at its disposal.

Unfortunately, although acne can be a common part of growing up, it can leave serious scarring that can last a lifetime. It can become a chronic problem with disfiguring results that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Because of this, for many, acne is not just an awkward phase that only impacts them during teen years. 

In addition to scarring, a small percentage of people struggle with acne even into adulthood. Because of the potential seriousness of acne, any treatment that could be effective should be a welcome consideration.

Cannabinoid Topicals

Like many acne treatments, CBD products for this purpose are limited to topicals at this time. “Topicals” is basically a catch-all term for any lotions, creams, balms, salves, or gels applied to the skin. The cannabinoid topicals market has exploded during the past half dozen years to address a variety of conditions ranging from smoother skin, aromatherapy for stress, and pain relief. There are even cannabinoid lubricants said to enhance sexual sensations. 

Because of the wide range of reasons people use these cannabis-derived products, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to have acne join the list. Like other cannabinoid topicals, CBD acne creams are applied and manually massaged into the epidermis to clear the skin of unwanted blemishes.

How Does CBD Treat Acne?

To gain a better understanding of how CBD can help clear up acne, let’s establish a rudimentary but somewhat clinical grasp of CBD’s influence on the endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system found in each person’s body includes cannabis receptors that regulate the multiple physiological processes of humans. One of these processes includes cutaneous (aka skin) cell growth and differentiation between human cells. According to a 2014 paper published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, the endocannabinoid system helps control skin cell growth and skin inflammation that relates to skin irritation, namely acne. 

Sebaceous glands are tiny glands in human skin cells that secrete an oily substance called sebum into hair follicles that lubricate both the hair and the skin. This sebum secretion is a vital part of keeping any skin healthy and vibrant—as long as it’s not secreted excessively. Anyone who has experienced acne or pimples knows that the cause is oily skin. 

Interestingly, CBD, when applied to the skin, is thought to influence sebaceous gland function and inhibit excessive production of sebum, which is a common condition of humans during puberty, when their bodies are growing and developing at a rapid rate. Inhibiting the production of these oily secretions is paramount to preventing and treating acne. 

What gives CBD topicals great potential for clearing up acne is that they specifically address the cause of acne, as well as the symptom (pimples), which is more than the makers of many acne treatments can say. Some treatments merely dry the skin surface, which helps treat acne but does not prevent it. Additional research will no doubt lead to an increased understanding of CBD and its influence on the human body and organs, including the largest organ of all, skin.

Subsequent to the study detailed in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, findings of the American Academy of Dermatology led to the same conclusion: CBD, applied topically, helped regulate oil-secreting skin glands and their production. CBD also was found to decrease inflammation—and oil production and inflammation are the leading causes of acne.

Selecting the Best Topical

The CBD market is flooded with products, with new ones emerging at a steady pace. Because some CBD products are created with industrial hemp waste, clearly some are crafted more carefully and are better than others. Navigating the differences in products and selecting the best for your needs can pose challenges.

Some of the CBD products that yield the best results for those who use them are the ones containing natural, organic ingredients. Natural, organic products are particularly important in skin care products. Reviewing the labels of these products will support this claim.

Focus on the products created by companies that work with dermatologists and other professionals. You will find that the companies that do clinical trials are in the minority, and there are many CBD topicals that have little thought put into them other than the attractiveness of the label slapped on them—labels that investigative reports indicate are often inaccurate about the percentages of CBD they contain.

CBD topicals contain CBD oil, with some created from oil derived from isolate CBD extraction and others created with full-spectrum CBD oil that contains other cannabis compounds as well. 

While there is much to be said for full-spectrum CBD products because they harness the full-spectrum benefits of the entourage effect (a phenomenon where a mixture of cannabis compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes work synergistically to produce more-powerful results), CBD topicals created from isolate extraction are said to produce positive results for acne treatment as well. 

The purpose of this article is not to identify one type of CBD-oil extraction method as being superior to the other, but rather to identify CBD as the primary therapeutic agent in these oils and the topicals created with them as an ingredient. If you choose to use a CBD acne topical, your independent research and product experimentation will be your guide to what works best for your condition.

If you’re searching for an effective CBD acne topical, it would behoove you to seriously consider creams or lotions from companies that limit their product line specifically to topicals rather than selling topicals as merely another segment of their vast cannabinoid-product offerings. One such company is Myaderm, a Colorado-based company with a highly regarded assortment of CBD topicals, including one called “CBD Blemish Control” specifically for the treatment of acne.


CBD topicals are an increasingly popular class of products, including some specifically created for skin care. Among these topical products are some created specifically for the treatment of acne, and there is compelling evidence that these products provide effective results for those who use them. 

The research conducted thus far about CBD’s influence on skin provide easily definable reasons why CBD works for cleaner, healthier skin.

If you suffer from acne, you likely have tried other products to manage it. If you haven’t had satisfactory result from these products, there are sound reasons why you should make a CBD acne topical the next product you try. Very likely you will find that you—and more importantly, your skin—will be happy that you did!

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