CBD is good for the skin. There are many claims to this effect – yet, an abundance of information on the internet also states that the science is only preliminary and more in-depth studies are required before meaningful claims can be made. So, what’s the truth? What, exactly, has science told us to date? In this article, we’ll dig into the research and separate the wheat from the chaff.
Is CBD Good for Skin?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an organic compound derived from the hemp plant of the cannabis family of plants. CBD can be extracted from the hemp plant to create CBD oil; a popular product that is beneficial for health and wellness and has been infused into many cosmetics such as facial and body moisturisers and serums. Today we’ll investigate further into the benefits of CBD cream and which skin conditions it can be useful in treating.
1. CBD is an Antioxidant
Studies have shown that CBD possesses antioxidant properties. Oxidative stress plays a major role in the process of both intrinsic and extrinsic ageing, and a key player in extrinsic oxidative stress is UV light. Such environmental stressors cause the body to produce unstable molecules known as free radicals which can significantly damage skin cells.
While our skin has its own defence mechanisms to fight oxidative stress, antioxidants such as CBD can help to prevent or slow down the damage to cells caused by free radicals. Extended scientific research is required, but a study carried out in 2017 found CBD to be even more effective as a neuroprotective antioxidant than vitamin C and vitamin E. Therefore, CBD’s antioxidant properties (as well as anti-inflammatory properties) may assist in preventing or slowing down the visible signs of ageing of the skin.
2. CBD has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
CBD has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory, which could provide relief from certain skin conditions that arise from skin inflammation, such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema. A 2020 study investigated the complex mechanism of CBD and similar cannabinoids at the molecular level during the treatment of the main inflammatory diseases of the skin. Whilst these skin disorders are very rarely life-threatening, they can severely impair an individual’s quality of life. The impact of cannabinoids such as CBD on dermatological inflammation was shown to be extremely promising, but it was cited that further human studies are necessary to fully establish the role of cannabinoids in common skin disorder pathophysiology.
Further anecdotal reports from CBD users have claimed that use of CBD products has helped to soothe dry, itchy and inflamed skin whilst significantly reducing redness and other visible signs of irritation. Additionally, CBD is often tolerated well by sensitive skin.
3. CBD Reduces Sebum Production
Affecting millions of people across the globe, acne vulgaris is the most prevalent skin condition in humans. Acne is most commonly caused by the overproduction of sebum (an oily substance) and unwanted sebocyte production. Sebocytes are human epithelial cells that are proficient in producing sebum. Sebocyte activity provides an effective protective mechanism for our skin, but when sebum production turns excessive, pores can become blocked and result in acne.
A scientific study carried out in 2014 showed that when CBD interacted with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), CBD compounds were able to suppress sebocyte production, which leads to lowered sebum production. CBD’s impact on sebocyte proliferation, alongside its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, indicate that the phytocannabinoid may be highly effective in the treatment of acne vulgaris.
4. CBD is a Skin Hydrator
Softened and hydrated skin is made possible by the addition of CBD to your skincare routine. The compound can considerably improve skin hydration thanks to its moisturising properties and its ability to help the skin retain water. This, in turn, can boost elasticity levels of the skin, which of course can provide added anti-ageing benefits and relief from irritated skin. Researchers believe that the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD may help to promote its hydration benefits. Skincare products that combine infused CBD with additional moisturising factors such as hyaluronic acid may be particularly effective at retaining moisture and keeping skin smooth and supple.
5. CBD as a Dermal Barrier
The epidermis (skin) is a natural barrier that serves to protect our bodies from environmental stresses. It is repeatedly attacked by toxins from pollution, UV light, etc., and as we age, the epidermis becomes less effective in its ability to protect. The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in maintaining skin barrier function and homeostasis, and preliminary research has investigated the influence of CBD on barrier function. Its involvement is complex and further studies are required to fully understand its efficacy, but early findings suggest that CBD may promote improved epidermal barrier function and therefore act as an effective skin protector.
6. CBD has Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties
CBD has also been shown to offer useful antimicrobial activity, according to a 2021 study, which could be advantageous for treating several skin infections. CBD and additional cannabinoids are capable of attacking microbes by destroying the membranes of cells that produce nutrients necessary for microbes to flourish. This lack of nutrients can cause the microbes to die.
Cannabinoid screening for antibacterial and antifungal is currently preliminary, but promising findings hope to stimulate further interest in the role of CBD, THC and other cannabinoids as potent antimicrobial agents.
Science shows that CBD can provide a range of benefits to our skin when used as part of a beauty or skincare routine, and these are largely a result of cannabidiol’s potential antioxidant, anti-sebum, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Early stage research has shown that CBD could help common skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. While scientific research is in its early phase, the promising results have triggered further interest and plans for more human studies. Furthermore, CBD use in skincare has increased in popularity and anecdotal reports from users frequently support the theory that CBD can improve skin condition.