CBD Health & Beauty

Topical CBD’s most enticing attributes are its anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-killing) properties. Scientists are finding more evidence that it can treat dry skin, psoriasis, and eczema, which is why the ingredient is popping up in so many face creams, serums, and body lotions. “Inflammation is the root of all evil, whether that’s acne or the signs of aging,” says New York City dermatologist Dendy Engelman, who notes that while acne rates are increasing, there aren’t many new treatment options coming down the pike. (“Most often, they’re reformulating benzoyl peroxide, or a retinoid, or some kind of acid,” she says.) As it turns out, CBD might be the ticket to clear skin, too.

Acne is a pain in the ass to treat because of its many components: blocked pores, excess sebum, inflammation, and proliferation of bacteria. A 2014 study found that CBD helps suppress breakouts by regulating oil production of the sebaceous glands. That could be good news if you’ve got acne and want to avoid drugs like Accutane and spironolactone. There’s more research to be done, of course, but skin doctors are intrigued by the potential of a new non-steroidal tool in their arsenal. If CBD can control inflammation and oil production, it would treat two parts of acne-lesion formation. That’s a big deal because “currently, we’ve been doing that with retinoids,” says Engelman, which actually makes skin worse before it gets better. (As skin acclimates to the treatment, a process called retinization initially causes more inflammation in the form of redness, dryness, and peeling.)

Also, for people who can’t — or don’t want to — pop pain pills, topical CBD takes down the ouch level and reduces swelling. That’s why we’re seeing it in so many rubs and balms, used for achy joints or sore muscles before and after workouts, as a chicer alternative to Bengay. The same properties make CBD oil a heck of a massage lotion, too.

Why CBD?

Cannabidiol, more commonly called CBD oil, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants that’s associated with many of the general wellness and medicinal qualities of marijuana, but without the high from THC (a psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis sativa).

When used in skin-care products, the ingredient’s antibacterial properties may calm inflammation, soothe irritation, reduce breakouts, and moisturize without clogging pores. CBD oil is also rich in vitamins A, C, and E, which stimulate collagen and the cells responsible for keeping skin firm and healthy.

Some studies have found that CBD may lessen pain by reducing inflammation in the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates immune system responses in the nervous system. The possibility of a strong anti-inflammatory effect is what skin-care companies are after when creating products to target irritated skin. Some studies have also noted that CBD may relieve joint and muscle pain, and a few companies have created body lotions with CBD that are intended for pain relief.