Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-intoxicating molecule found in cannabis. It’s everywhere these days because research links it with many medical benefits. Today CBD (and even cannabis) is more widely accepted for its therapeutic value. So now, it’s ending up in many more consumer products (both inside and outside the dispensary).
Skincare is the next big market for cannabis products, including for CBD. Are the stories true about the benefits of the topical application of cannabinoids? If so, how is it possible for CBD to provide benefits to one’s skin? This article seeks to answer the questions you might have around CBD for skincare. The evidence just might convince you to give a new CBD skin care product a shot.
Does CBD have Therapeutic Merit?
A great many claims are floating around about what CBD can and cannot do. Some of these claim benefits without providing evidence, leading cautious consumers to wonder as to whether or not it can actually treat skin problems. When anything becomes as popular as CBD, there will be people trying to market it as the next big miracle ingredient. Is CBD just snake oil, or does it have medicinal merit?
Only recently has CBD become a popular at-home remedy, as only recently did regulators differentiate it from THC-rich cannabis. Unlike its more intoxicating cousin cannabinoid, CBD is non-intoxicating. Because it doesn’t cause a high, it is much more useful across a broader demographic than THC. Plus, it’s legal everywhere that hemp is legal.
Importantly, many of the same properties found from THC are also found from CBD. That includes pain relief, inflammation, antioxidants, and more. It has very similar medical properties in many respects but without the high.
Sorting Through the CBD Skin Care Claims
According to one big skincare brand, “CBD oil also has antioxidant properties. The antioxidants in CBD are one way topical use helps lessen the visible signs of aging. By counteracting free-radical damage and reducing the look of inflammation, CBD anti-aging creams visibly diminish issues like wrinkles, skin dullness, and ruddy skin tone.”
So if you have wrinkles? Try using some CBD. Skin not looking like it used to? CBD. Acne? CBD! You can see how CBD has quickly become a “cure-all.” The problem with a “cure-all,” however, is that it obviously can’t cure everything.
But beyond these miraculous claims is some truth. Preliminary studies do suggest CBD has immediate and substantial benefits for topical applications, but these need to be confirmed before products can legally make these claims. Here is a quick review of some of the current areas of study.
Anti-Inflammatory Properties of CBD
Out of the many claims about CBD, the treatment of inflammation seems to be one of the most proven. According to Harvard Medical School:
“CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control.”
So if you’re taking CBD products to treat inflammation, it’s possible to experience real results. Study after study continues to demonstrate the powerful anti-inflammatory activity of CBD.
According to Robert Dellavalle, MD, Ph.D., adjunct professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora. “When applied to [the] skin, CBD interacts with these receptors to turn down the inflammatory response. This happens by decreasing the interleukins, which are chemicals that are like the immune system’s fire alarm that calls the fire department in an emergency. CBD may decrease the loudness of that fire alarm…” 
Effective When Applied Topically
It would appear that one of the real benefits of CBD is the anti-inflammatory properties.
But can you get these benefits by using a CBD-infused cream, balm, or salve? The short answer is yes.
That means there may be a very real potential of CBD creams to reduce redness, swelling, itchiness, and more. The same benefits you’d experience from eating or inhaling this cannabinoid are likely experienced at a localized level when applied to the surface of the skin.
What About CBD for Acne?
By controlling the body’s inflammatory response, CBD may treat one of the major skin issues: acne. According to Medical News Today:
“A 2014 study explored the effects of CBD on human sebocytes, which are the 5 cells that create sebum. The researchers found that the CBD prevented these cells from creating too much of the oily sebum. They also revealed that the CBD oil triggered an anti-inflammatory reaction in the cells and prevented inflammatory cytokines from activating. Cytokines may trigger acne, so reducing them may help prevent further breakouts.” 
The authors of the 2014 study above concluded, “In this study, we provide the first evidence that the nonpsychotropic phytocannabinoid CBD, which is already applied in clinical practice, exerted a unique “trinity of cellular anti-acne actions.”
CBD for Topical Pain Relief and More
While the clinical evidence is playing catch up, skincare companies are banking on the potential of CBD. If you were keeping track, that means antioxidants for wrinkles, anti-inflammatory powers for redness, and maybe even applications for acne.
If you have been considering trying out a CBD based product, perhaps a CBD lotion may be the right choice for you. It’s nice to know that your next cannabis experience could also bring you a healthy glow.
Whatever your reasons for trying out a CBD-infused product, it is somewhat reassuring to know that at least some of the stories are true. CBD can indeed help with some topical issues, and it remains a relatively safe, natural, and well-tolerated ingredient.