Cannabidiol, or CBD, is making its way into food and alternative medicine. But it's also entering the beauty products market as CBD infused make-up, lotions, and creams. We asked a Cedars-Sinai dermatologist if they're safe or effective. There’s a lot of hype around CBD-infused skin products and its benefits. But more research is needed before experts recommend it for use.
Should I Use CBD Products on My Skin?
If you’ve walked down the drugstore aisle recently, you might have noticed a new acronym popping up on the labels of many skincare products: CBD.
CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant. Compared to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive, which means that ingesting it or putting it on your skin will not cause you to feel “high.”
“More studies are needed to see if CBD or other chemical agents found in the cannabis plant directly improve skin quality and have other health benefits.”
CBD oils, lotions, and creams are readily available in many states as over-the-counter beauty products and the market for CBD is growing fast.
How CBD affects your skin
Dr. Nima Gharavi, dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon at the Cedars-Sinai Cosmetic Dermatology Program, says CBD may play a role in hydrating the skin and have anti-inflammatory effects, so using a product that contains CBD might help with treating dry skin or certain inflammatory skin disorders.
“However, more studies are needed to see if CBD or other chemical agents found in the cannabis plant directly improve skin quality and have other health benefits,” Dr. Gharavi says.
The potential health benefits of CBD
While the effect of CBD on your skin is unclear, there’s a lot of interest in CBD research, Dr. Gharavi says.
“Right now, the way we treat eczema, psoriasis, and most inflammatory conditions of the skin is through the use of anti-inflammatory agents, the most common being topical corticosteroids,” Dr. Gharavi says.
“Topical steroids, however, have potential side effects, particularly on thin skin found around the eyes, in the armpit area, or the groin.”
If CBD can produce the same anti-inflammatory effect as a steroid without the potentially negative side effects, then the use of CBD could be an encouraging new method to treat these skin conditions.
“I’d like to see more data on how CBD, in the form of a topical agent, could have promising or comparable anti-inflammatory effects as a steroid,” Dr. Gharavi says.
Are CBD products safe for your skin?
Dr. Gharavi says there’s likely little harm that can come from applying a CBD beauty product to your skin.
If you experience a skin irritation, a rash, or an allergic reaction from using any type of skincare product, consult a dermatologist.
CBD for Skin: What to Know
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in Cannabis sativa plants, which include marijuana and hemp plants. Lately, there’s a lot of hype around skin products infused with CBD. You can find it in cosmetics like creams, lotions, balms, oils, face masks, shampoos, and even bath bombs.
You may have heard that CBD is good for acne, certain skin disorders, and fine lines and wrinkles. But does it really work? Is it safe to use? Ongoing studies on CBD’s uses and benefits are in early stages, so experts say there needs to be more large-scale research to know for sure.
Popular Claims on Benefits
While there isn’t in-depth research available to prove benefits for any skin conditions, scientists are looking for answers, and some early studies have shown some promise.
One small study looked at CBD’s effects on 20 people with the skin conditions psoriasis or eczema, as well as the scars they may leave. Participants used a CBD-enriched skin ointment twice daily for 3 months. They showed some improvements like reduced inflammation. No irritation or allergic reactions were reported, but the study had many limitations.
Experts say there needs to be more research on proper dosage, long-term benefits, and side effects to know if it’s safe and effective, especially if you plan to use it as part of your daily skin routine.
Potential Side Effects and Risks
CBD products in general often make misleading claims, the FDA notes. Since CBD products don’t need a prescription and are easily available, many people may think CBD is mostly harmless. But this isn’t necessarily true. According to the FDA, there are possible risks to look out for when you use CBD.
CBD, especially if taken by mouth, can damage your liver. There’s not yet information on whether CBD products can have the same effect when you apply it on your skin. For instance, it’s not clear yet how much CBD gets absorbed through your skin.
If you use CBD skin products, you may develop a rash. It could be from the CBD or other ingredients in the products you use.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, the FDA warns against CBD use in all forms whether it’s a cream or an oral capsule. The FDA is studying the safety of CBD products, including cosmetics, food, and supplements.
Before you try any CBD products, make sure to read the product labels carefully for active ingredients. Even so, it can be hard to know exactly what’s in the product, including how much CBD it contains. If you have questions, talk to your doctor about it.
Is It Legal?
There are no laws against using CBD in beauty or skin care products. CBD doesn’t contain any THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that’s found in high levels in marijuana. So you can’t get high on it. But some skin products may add THC along with CBD. Some experts find this concerning.
It’s illegal to market CBD if it’s added to foods or sold as a dietary supplement.
Experts want to see more reliable research before they recommend CBD for your skin. But if you do decide to use CBD-infused skin products and notice a reaction, tell your doctor about it. If you have skin problems, talk to a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment options.
FDA: “What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding,” “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD.”
AAD: “The Truth About Skin Care Products with CBD.”
La Clinica Terapeutica: “A Therapeutic Effect of CBD-Enriched Ointment in Inflammatory Skin Diseases and Cutaneous Scars.”
Mayo Clinic: “Psoriasis,” “Atopic dermatitis (eczema).”
National Institutes of Health: “Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know.”
Harvard Health Publishing: “Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t.”