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Acne and CBD Oil: Research, Benefits, and Product Advice

Acne affects millions of Americans each year. Anything from hormonal changes to stress to genetics can trigger acne in both teenagers and adults. Depending on the severity of the skin condition, acne can be minor nuisance or have a profound impact on your day-to-day life—either way, it can be a pain to deal with. Fortunately, CBD oil may be able to help.

If you battle acne, it’s likely you’ve tried dozens of products in an attempt to find a solution. While some may work short-term, the skin often stops responding after a period of time; others may dry out the skin, creating a whole new set of issues; at worst, some products don’t work at all.

If your acne is not being well controlled with your current treatment plan, you may find success using CBD oil for acne.

Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Acne

For those suffering from persistent, severe acne, medical-grade treatment options are few. Retinoid isotretinoin (Accutane) is often seen as a last resort because it comes with a lengthy list of side effects. This prescription treatment attacks the sebaceous glands in an effort to reduce oil production. It is not only hard on the skin, but it is also hard on the body.

CBD oil may be able to reduce inflammation and inhibit oil production, leading to clearer, calmer looking skin without producing a litany of negative side effects. If you’re thinking about trying CBD oil for acne, alone or in conjunction with your current acne medication, first, speak to your dermatologist or doctor, and keep the following chart handy.

Common Acne Medications Potential Side Effects of Acne Medication Potential Benefit of using CBD Oil for Acne Potential Side Effects of combining CBD Oil w/ Acne Meds
Topical Retinoids (Avita; Differin; Tazorac; Avage) Redness; swelling; peeling; burning sensation. CBD oil can reduce inflammation and inhibit oil production without causing any of the same side effects. There are no known interactions between CBD oil and topical retinoids.
Azelaic acid (Azelex; Finacea) Redness; dryness; burning; itching; stinging. CBD oil can reduce inflammation and inhibit oil production without causing any of the same side effects. There are no known interactions between CBD oil and azelaic acid.
Dapsone (Aczone) Redness; itching; shortness of breath; back pain; tiredness and weakness; dark brown urine. CBD oil can reduce inflammation and inhibit oil production without causing any of the same side effects. Dapsone is metabolized via the CYP450 enzyme family. No known interactions.
Antibiotics Rash; vaginal itching and discharge; diarrhea; abdominal cramping. CBD oil can reduce inflammation and inhibit oil production without causing any of the same side effects. CBD oil is known to interact with several antibiotics. For more information read Antibiotics and CBD oil.  Always consult your physician before use.
Combined oral contraceptives (Ortho Tri-Cyclen; Yaz) Weight gain and fluid retention; nausea and upset stomach; mood changes; increased risk of blood clot. CBD oil can reduce inflammation and inhibit oil production without causing any of the same side effects. There are no known interactions between CBD oil and combined oral contraceptives.
Antiandrogen agents (Aldactone) Vomiting; diarrhea; dry mouth; gynecomastia; erectile dysfunction; irregular menstrual periods. CBD oil can reduce inflammation and inhibit oil production without causing any of the same side effects. CBD oil can interact with some antiandrogen agents so always consult your physician before combining.
Isotretinoin (Amnesteem; Claravis; Sotret) Dry mouth; nose bleeds; swollen eyelids or lips; crusty skin; thinning hair; sun sensitivity; mood changes; back pain; painful swallowing. CBD oil can reduce inflammation and inhibit oil production without causing any of the same side effects. Using CBD oil with isotretinoin can cause an increased risk of liver damage.  Always consult your physician before using.

Given the potential side effects, it is little wonder that many acne sufferers are looking to find a more natural and effective solution for the skin condition.

Effectiveness of CBD Oil for Acne

Acne appears when hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells, oil, or sebum, and bacteria. It is a condition exacerbated by stress, hormones, diet, and medications. CBD oil may be able to help with all of these issues.

Because CBD oil is an anti-inflammatory, it can reduce the appearance of inflamed acne. Not only that, but it can also reduce the redness and swelling of acne-prone skin. In fact, CBD oil affects the endocannabinoid system in a way that can actually inhibit oil production, reducing the likelihood of acne flare-ups before they begin.

In addition, CBD oil has been proven to be an effective antibacterial agent, further supporting its potential to prevent acne from starting in the first place.

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How CBD Oil Reduces Inflammation

Part of what makes CBD oil so effective in treating acne is that it both reduces the appearance of inflammation and impacts the processes that lead to inflammation in the first place.

Just like other places in the body, the sebaceous glands and hair follicles have CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. These receptors communicate with the central nervous system and CBD has been shown to activate the CB2 receptor, which is responsible for controlling pain and inflammation.

Another way that CBD is known to combat inflammation is through its relationship with the neurotransmitter adenosine. CBD slows the reuptake of adenosine by affecting the equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT1). By preventing the reuptake of adenosine, the amount of it in the brain is increased. This increase impacts the adenosine receptors, particularly the A2A receptor, which mediates the inflammatory process.

Finally, CBD may be able to reduce the likelihood of inflamed and damaged skin through its effect on keratinocytes, which are skin cells that produce keratin, the main building block of hair. A 2019 study examining CBD’s effect on keratinocytes exposed to UV rays showed it to have both anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant properties. The study concludes, “the antioxidant activity of CBD…as well as its anti-inflammatory properties…should be considered during design of new protective treatments for the skin.”

Unlike other anti-inflammatories or acne medications, CBD carries little to no side effects for a majority of people, making it an attractive possible solution to acne. By reducing inflammation and potentially stopping acne-causing oil production before it starts, CBD may offer a gentle and effective treatment option for acne sufferers.

How to Take CBD Oil for Acne

If you are finding yourself frustrated by traditional acne treatments, it may be worth giving CBD oil a try.

Before you begin, however, it is important to talk to your doctor. While generally safe for use, CBD oil can interact with other medications, like antidepressants and antibiotics, and so it is important to ensure that using CBD oil for acne is the safest option for you.

The delivery format you choose will depend on your preferences and your skin care needs. For the most targeted relief, look for a CBD skin care product. There are a number of CBD companies that sell CBD serums, face masks, moisturizers, and face lotions, all infused with other ingredients to bring a clearer complexion.

To reduce inflammation and calm skin from the inside-out, using a CBD oil capsule or CBD oil tincture or drops makes the most sense. A CBD oil capsule will offer consistent dosing and ease of use while a tincture or drops can provide for easier dose adjustment. Using these delivery formats will calm the immune system’s inflammatory response and help prevent the appearance of inflamed acne breakouts.

It is likely that a combination of CBD products will be what works best for your acne. Using an ingested CBD oil in combination with a topical cream can provide an effective two-pronged approach.

Given that CBD oil poses few health risks and does not pose an overdose risk, do not be afraid to experiment until you find the products and dose that works best for you. For more information on CBD delivery formats, check out our Beginner’s Guide to CBD Oil: How to Take CBD.

Once again, do not start using CBD oil for acne without consulting a medical professional.

Dosage of CBD Oil for Acne

There is no one dose of CBD oil that will work for every person. It is recommended that you start with the lowest recommended dose on your CBD oil product. From there, you can slowly adjust up or down as needed.

If your CBD oil doesn’t have a recommended dosage, we at CBD Oil Review have analyzed hundreds of products and come up with the following:

The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25mg of CBD, taken twice daily

If you are not getting results from this amount, we recommend increasing the serving size by 25mg every 3-4 weeks until you find relief.

If you’re using a CBD topical, like a face cream or moisturizer, dosage may be a bit harder to measure in terms of milligrams of CBD. Like many skin care products though, the adage of, “a little goes a long way” should apply.

For more information on dosages and some useful tips for getting it right, check out our guide here or consider speaking with a naturopathic doctor.

The Best CBD Oils for Acne

In most instances, the best CBD oil for acne will be the CBD oil that works for you. For best results, it is important to use a high-quality product from a trusted and reputable brand. Here are some tips you can use to narrow down your product search and ensure that you are getting exactly what you want and need.

  • Always check the sourcing:  It is best to buy a CBD oil product that has been sourced from organic hemp. An extract taken from an organic source will go a long way to ensuring that your CBD oil is free from harmful pesticides and herbicides.
  • Read the label:  It is important to understand what is inside your CBD oil. Always check the listed CBD concentration and look to see if the product contains THC. In states with more restrictive cannabis laws, a CBD product with more than 0.3% THC content could be illegal for purchase. Furthermore, having a higher THC content may not be desired or appropriate for some users.
  • Read the Certificate of Analysis:  In order to verify the contents of your CBD oil, read the Certificate of Analysis. All reputable brands will third-party lab test their products for potency and purity. The analysis from the Certificate of Analysis will help you verify the concentrations of CBD and THC are correct, as well as alert you to any harmful chemicals present in the finished product.
  • Read the ingredients list:  Most quality CBD oils will contain only a few ingredients. Some products will contain only CBD and a carrier oil like MCT oil or hemp seed oil. Others will have naturally occurring flavonoids, fatty acids, and terpenes from the whole plant. Some may even include natural flavor additives like cinnamon or orange essential oil. Always look for natural ingredients and avoid anything that uses chemical additives or preservatives.

Acne can be a difficult condition to treat and CBD oil may offer a useful and effective solution. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist today and see if using CBD oil as an acne treatment is the right choice for you.

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+ 6 sources


  1. Adult Acne - American Academy of Dermatology Association https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/really-acne/adult-acne
  2. Attila Oláh et al. (2014) Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4151231/
  3. Sreemanti Basu et al. (2011) Unraveling the Complexities of Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2) Immune Regulation in Health and Disease - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4624216/
  4. M Mecha et al. (2013) Cannabidiol provides long-lasting protection against the deleterious effects of inflammation in a viral model of multiple sclerosis: a role for A2A receptors - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23851307/
  5. Anna Jastrząb et al. Cannabidiol Regulates the Expression of Keratinocyte Proteins Involved in the Inflammation Process through Transcriptional Regulation - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31382646/
  6. Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version - National Cancer Institute https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabis-pdq#link/_11

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