CBD Oil for Acne: A Guide

Does CBD Oil Treat Acne?

Based on the evidence accumulated by numerous scientific studies and countless pieces of anecdotal testimony, cannabidiol (CBD) may be a novel treatment for acne. In its most mild forms, acne can be embarrassing or uncomfortable, but serious forms of this illness can be disfiguring and lead to mental illness. Due to its remarkable safety profile, many prominent researchers are optimistic about the potential of CBD for acne, and in this guide, we’ll introduce you to the compelling benefits of CBD and explain why this natural substance may be effective in treating acne. 

What Is Acne?

Acne vulgaris (acne) is a condition that occurs when the sebaceous glands in the skin become inflamed. There are a number of different forms of acne, and experts disagree on the root causes of this condition. It’s undeniable, however, that acne is an unsightly condition that robs many people of their self-esteem and skin health. 

While different types of acne present different symptoms, this condition is usually heralded by skin inflammation. This inflammation produces redness that is usually localized to the area of a pimple, but in cases of severe acne, skin inflammation can spread across the face. 

Acne is most prevalent in teenagers, and this condition often clears up once an afflicted teenager reaches adulthood. In some cases, however, acne can persist long into a person’s adult years, and certain hormonal changes and other catalysts can sometimes cause acne in adults who experienced acne as teenagers or never experienced acne before. 

In most cases, acne clears up on its own, and medication or other forms of treatment are not required. Despite the fact that many types of acne treatment worsen the symptoms of this condition, a wide variety of over-the-counter and prescription acne medications are available. Many of these treatments contain dangerous ingredients, and they hardly ever produce the results that they claim. 

What Other Types of Skin Blemishes Are There?

There are a variety of conditions that resemble acne but have different symptoms. Rosacea, for instance, also causes inflammation, and it can also cause raised bumps that look similar to acne pimples. However, rosacea and acne have different causes, and the two conditions should not be conflated. Nevertheless, since acne and rosacea are both primarily caused by inflammation, CBD’s reported anti-inflammatory properties might be effective in the treatment of both conditions. 

It’s also easy to confuse folliculitis and acne since they both cause raised bumps on the skin. However, folliculitis is a type of yeast infection that is most commonly caused by shaving, and the bumps that are symptomatic of this condition usually aren’t inflamed. 

Staph infections can also sometimes look like acne, but these infections are highly dangerous and require qualified medical help. Lastly, the early stages of skin cancer can also look like acne, but unlike acne pimples, skin cancer nodules are usually pinkish instead of red and do not heal over time. 

What Types of Acne Are There?

Acne vulgaris is split into a number of different sub-conditions. Some examples of these subtypes of acne include: 


Whiteheads are different from traditional acne pustules; they consist of small, white bumps that are usually relatively devoid of inflammation. These types of nodules can be caused by acne, but they can also be caused by a variety of other conditions. In most cases, whiteheads are hardly noticeable, and they don’t usually leave significant scarring. 


Blackheads are somewhat more severe than whiteheads, and they occur when sebum, which is naturally expressed by your sebaceous glands, hardens and plugs your pore. In most cases, blackheads do not become highly inflamed, but they can be unsightly. When left alone, blackheads will either dissolve on their own or continue to harden and darken due to oxidization. 

Nodular Acne

Nodular acne is the most common form of acne. It consists of pus-filled nodules that can become quite inflamed. In most cases, nodular acne pustules display a white center, but these pustules may only display red, inflamed skin. If you leave nodular acne pustules alone, they will heal over time. However, if you “pop” a nodular acne pustule by applying pressure and expelling the pus, you run the risk of leaving a scar behind. 

Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is the most severe form of acne, but it is relatively rare. Instead of expressing pustules on the surface of your skin, cystic acne occurs in the inner layers of your skin. Since cystic acne pustules are so deep in your skin, they are hard, if not impossible, to pop, and they can become quite painful. Cystic acne pustules generally occur in clusters, and in extreme cases, they may crisscross across a person’s entire face. 

CBD for Acne
CBD might be able to effectively modulate many types of skin blemishes.

Pathophysiology of Acne

The pathophysiology of acne is generally well understood, but there is some disagreement on the initial causes of this condition. It’s agreed that the foundations of acne are laid when the sebaceous glands in the skin’s pores become hyperactive. They produce more skin oil than is necessary, which starts to make a plug called a microplug or microcomedo. Beyond this point, however, the scientific community isn’t sure what strikes the match of excess skin oil and causes an acne conflagration. 

Traditionally, it was understood that the presence of a bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) caused acne pustules. Therefore, acne was treated as a bacterial disease, and most acne treatments were developed primarily to slow or halt the reproduction of this bacterium. Some scientists still believe that it is the presence of P. acnes in the duct of the sebaceous follicle that triggers the immune response that results in acne. 

While this conventional model of the pathophysiology of acne holds that inflammation only comes into the picture after P. acnes triggers the body’s immune response, an updated model of acne’s pathophysiology suggests that inflammation plays a key role in the progression of this disease from the very start. This model postulates that inflammation is, in fact, the primary cause of the initial increased production of sebum in the sebaceous glands that creates the noninflammatory comedo that eventually becomes an inflammatory acne pustule. 

According to the suppositions of this model of the pathophysiology of acne, if inflammation in the skin could be reduced, acne would never have the fuel it needs to create pustules. The presence of P. acnes would never trigger the formation of an inflammatory pustule, and the skin would maintain its natural oil homeostasis. This supposition is highly in line with the latest models of disease in general, which postulate that inflammation is the root cause of all disease and that if we could eliminate inflammation, our bodies might be able to maintain homeostasis in perpetuity. 

Conventional Acne Treatments

Conventional treatments for acne are either ineffective or dangerous. Some of these treatments make the symptoms of acne worse, and others are based on false suppositions that promote counterproductive acne prevention tactics. Still others can cause serious long-term damage to your organs and other tissues. Here are some examples of popular conventional acne treatments: 

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is used in a variety of over-the-counter acne treatments. This substance treats acne by introducing oxygen into your pores, which kills P. acnes bacteria. However, the premise of this drug’s efficacy is based on the potentially incorrect assumption that P. acnes is the primary cause of acne instead of inflammation. 

This acne treatment dries your skin, and it can lead to skin redness or flaking. When your skin is dry, it is more prone to inflammation, and based on the most advanced models of acne’s pathophysiology, inflammation makes acne worse or is the primary cause of acne. Since benzoyl peroxide only kills P. acnes bacteria without reducing inflammation, it is not a valid treatment for acne. 

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is naturally occurring in white willow bark, and it is a popular over-the-counter treatment for acne. This substance is applied topically, and it penetrates the sebum follicle to dissolve and shed dead skin cells, which helps keep your pores clear. 

This substance treats acne by reducing the amount of sebum in your pores, and it also helps reduce inflammation to some degree. However, salicylic acid damages your skin and leads to skin dryness, which causes inflammation. This acne treatment can also cause stinging or burning. 


Isotretinoin, commonly sold under the brand name Accutane, is the most dangerous acne drug. Unlike benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which are applied topically, isotretinoin is ingested orally, and it is used as a last-ditch effort to treat acne that is resistant to other forms of treatment. 

This drug is a type of vitamin A derivative called a retinoid, and it works by reducing the size and output of your sebaceous glands. Retinoids are known to cause serious side effects such as skin dryness and blistering, and, counterintuitively, they may cause acne flare-ups. 

Isotretinoin, however, causes more severe side effects than other retinoids. In addition to dry eyes, dry skin, chapped lips, and nosebleeds, this drug can also cause increased cholesterol, muscle pain, and increased risk of bone fractures. Isotretinoin can also stunt the growth of long bones in teenagers, and it can cause pressure in the brain that may lead to seizures, severe headaches, or even strokes. 

This acne drug can cause vision and hearing problems, and, perhaps most disturbingly, it can cause permanent damage to your liver, pancreas, intestines, and esophagus. Isotretinoin can also cause diabetes, lower your red blood cell levels, and leave you more prone to infections by lowering your white blood cell counts. Lastly, isotretinoin can cause mental health issues such as depression and psychosis. 

Can CBD Treat Blackheads?

Can CBD Help with Acne?

In light of the fact that acne is most likely an inflammatory rather than a bacterial condition, cannabidiol (CBD) may be uniquely poised to treat this illness. One of the most researched aspects of CBD is the relationship between this substance and inflammation, and the consensus is that CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that using CBD for acne may stop the initial causes of this condition and help reduce the intensity of existing acne flare-ups. 

A study conducted to determine the effects of CBD for acne found that CBD has sebostatic effects, which means that this cannabinoid returns hyperactive sebum glands to their normal levels of production. This study also confirmed that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, and it concluded that this substance shows promise as a treatment for acne vulgaris. The authors of this study went on to publish another paper suggesting that other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, such as CBC and CBDV, are also effective in treating acne

Another study found that the role of the endocannabinoid system in the skin is to regulate and balance the various functions of the skin cells. The endogenous cannabinoid system (endocannabinoid system) is the body’s natural system for processing cannabinoids, and while it isn’t clear what relationship CBD has with the endocannabinoid system, this research indicates that cannabinoids can attenuate the skin and help it heal itself. 

Assuming that acne is primarily an inflammatory condition, it’s worth examining some of the research that has been done on the relationship between CBD and inflammation. A comprehensive review of the available evidence from 2012 cites over 100 studies in support of its conclusion that CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory substance. The author of this review concludes that the primary mechanism by which CBD reduces inflammation is via the reduction of oxidative stress. 

CBD’s Mechanisms of Action for Acne

Scientists have trouble understanding CBD’s mechanisms of action because this cannabinoid does not appear to interact directly with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which make up the majority of the infrastructure of the endocannabinoid system. The methods by which CBD reduces inflammation and benefits acne sufferers are largely unknown, but research has elucidated a few chemical means by which CBD appears to reduce general tissue inflammation. 

Most of these mechanisms are related to specific inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), depression, and neurodegenerative diseases. However, it also appears that CBD reduces oxidative stress at the mitochondrial level. Oxidative stress is one of the primary causes of inflammation, and reduction of oxidative stress in the skin would theoretically reduce the symptoms of acne. 

The same study that noted CBD’s sebostatic effects found that CBD normalizes the “pro-acne agents” that cause increased sebum production. It also found that CBD prevented the expression of TNFA, which is a key cytokine in the pathogenesis of acne. Furthermore, this study found that CBD attenuates a number of the chemical pathways by which skin inflammation is caused, and the presence of acne is supported. 

CBD for Acne

CBD for Acne Case Study

An individual with acne vulgaris tried oral CBD for acne for 21 days. She sought to determine firsthand how CBD can help reduce the symptoms of acne and hyperpigmentation, which is a type of skin redness that is often left behind by acne. 

This individual did not notice any change in her skin health after ingesting CBD for acne for one week. After two weeks, however, this individual found that her skin was significantly less red, and that her skin seemed to be better hydrated. After three weeks, she found that her acne-related skin redness any hyperpigmentation had been reduced significantly. 

Pleased by these results, she bought more oral CBD products. She also found that ingesting oral CBD for acne reduced her stress and anxiety levels. 

Try CBD for Acne Today

While orally ingested CBD appears to reduce inflammation throughout your body, topically applied CBD for acne releases this substance’s purported anti-inflammatory effects directly into the area affected by acne. Therefore, you might want to try a combination of our Premium CBD Lotion with our Full Spectrum Hemp Oil Extract or our CBD Oil Isolate to treat your acne. 

When you apply CBD for acne transdermally (on the skin), it immediately absorbs into your skin and starts interacting with your dermal tissues. Orally ingested CBD oil must pass through your digestive tract before it can reach your skin, but its potent full-body effect may reduce other sources of inflammation in your body that may be supporting your acne. If you have any questions about our products or how CBD benefits acne sufferers, don’t hesitate to contact us today!