CBD in Your Skincare: Is It Effective?

By Kristi Pahr

Research has shown that cannabidiol (CBD) is effective at manging many conditions – chronic pain, anxiousness, and stress, to name a few – conditions that develop inside our bodies. But how effective is CBD at alleviating conditions on the outside of our bodies? Our skin is our largest organ, and it plays a vital role in immunity and protection from harmful UV rays, so maintaining healthy skin should be a high priority.

Recently, the market has been flooded with skincare products containing CBD claiming improved skin health and the management of everything from acne to psoriasis. But are these claims accurate? Should you add CBD-infused products to your skin regimen, or is it all just marketing hype?

Skin and The Endocannabinoid System

Discovered in the 1990s, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a network of receptors whose function is to maintain homeostasis, or balance, within the body. Endocannabinoids, which are compounds produced within the body, bind with ECS receptors to signal things are amiss in the body, triggering a response that targets the problem.

Similar to endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced by plants, primarily the cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is arguably the most well-known phytocannabinoid, but its cousin, non-psychoactive CBD, is riding a wave of notoriety lately, owing to its therapeutic value. Phytocannabinoids interact with endocannabinoid receptors in the same way as endocannabinoids, promoting balance within body systems.

While most research has focused on the endocannabinoid receptors in the nervous and immune systems, there are also receptors located in the skin that maintain skin homeostasis and skin cell integrity. In 2009, a Hungarian research team found that dysregulation in the cutaneous ECS is prevalent in common skin disorders like acne, psoriasis, scleroderma, and pigmentation problems.

CBD in Skincare

When used on the skin, CBD may improve acne, inflammation, and more.

Skincare has gotten a lot of attention lately, with celebrities and influencers Instagramming their multi-step skincare routines. A plethora of creams, serums, oils, masks, and sprays are making their way into the daily routines, and skincare has become a little more complicated than wash, moisturize, and go. All these steps have one goal: healthy skin. And according to research published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, adding CBD products to your routine might just give your skin the extra boost it needs.

Even if you don’t live with conditions like acne or psoriasis, CBD can up your skincare game and improve skin health. Because the ECS is all about maintaining homeostasis, using cannabinoid-based skincare products can help clear skin stay clear and prevent flare-ups of other common skin conditions.

Benefits of CBD Skincare

While more research is needed, in a study recently published in the journal Molecules, researchers showed that the benefits of CBD, which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties for your skin, are wide-ranging. Encompassing everything from hydration to oil levels, CBD can provide a safe and side-effect-free way to manage and prevent skin problems and bolster overall skin health. By interacting with cutaneous endocannabinoid receptors, CBD can:

  • Manage and prevent acne breakouts
  • Soothe redness associated with rosacea
  • Calm eczema flare-ups
  • Help regulate oil production and balance skin
  • Regulate hormones that cause skin imbalances
  • Promote hydration and prevent skin dryness
  • Neutralize damage from free radicals and environmental toxins

The Take-Home

At this point, it’s been well-established that CBD offers a plethora of health and wellness boosts, improving and managing conditions across the spectrum – and now, we can add skincare to that list. By adding high-quality CBD to your daily skincare routine, it’s possible to not only tackle problems you already have but also to prevent problems from occurring in the future. As always, consult with your healthcare provider before adding CBD to an existing regimen for skin problems.


  • Bíró T, Tóth BI, Haskó G, Paus R, Pacher P. The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2009;30(8):411-420. doi:10.1016/j.tips.2009.05.004
  • Tóth KF, Ádám D, Bíró T, Oláh A. Cannabinoid Signaling in the Skin: Therapeutic Potential of the “C(ut)annabinoid” System. Molecules. 2019;24(5):918. Published 2019 Mar 6. doi:10.3390/molecules24050918
  • Oláh A, Tóth BI, Borbíró I, et al. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. J Clin Invest. 2014;124(9):3713-3724. doi:10.1172/JCI64628
  • Scheau C, Badarau IA, Mihai LG, et al. Cannabinoids in the Pathophysiology of Skin Inflammation. Molecules. 2020;25(3):652. Published 2020 Feb 4. doi:10.3390/molecules25030652

Kristi Pahr is a freelance health and wellness writer and mother of two who spends most of her time caring for people other than herself. She is frequently exhausted and compensates with an intense caffeine addiction. Her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, Men’s Health, and many others.

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