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Can CBD Oil Treat Acne?

Experiencing an acne breakout? You’re far from alone. Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the world, affecting approximately 95% of people between the ages of 11 and 30, according to data from the NHS.

Although acne tends to become less common as people enter their 20s and 30s, many people experience persistent acne that can continue well into adulthood.

Search online for information about getting rid of acne and you’ll find a lengthy list of treatments and medications. There are facial scrubs and lotions available from the supermarket, as well as an extensive range of prescription medications you can request from your doctor.

Then, there’s CBD oil. Although it’s best known as a natural treatment for things like poor sleep, anxiety and stress, CBD oil is increasingly being thought of as a potential natural treatment for acne and other skin conditions.

But does it work? Below, we’ve looked at the data for CBD oil as an acne treatment, from how it can affect the skin to the results you can expect from using it.

How and Why Acne Develops

CBD oil has increased massively in popularity in the UK over the last decade, with an estimated 250,000+ people either trying or regularly using CBD oil in the UK.

Most people who use CBD oil do so for its potential benefits as a natural treatment for chronic pain, anxiety and stress. Others use CBD oil as a sleep aid, claiming that it helps them to fall asleep when they’re experiencing insomnia.

Even for these well-known uses, the study data for CBD oil is fairly limited. After all, it’s a new treatment that’s only recently become legal. 

Interestingly, there’s some scientific evidence that CBD oil might be able to prevent breakouts and treat acne. Before we can get into this, we need to explain how acne develops in the first place.

Acne can develop as a result of multiple factors. The biggest of these is your body’s production of something called sebum — an oily natural substance that’s produced and secreted from your body’s sebaceous glands.

If you’ve ever wiped your face at the end of the day and noticed an oily substance on your skin, you’ll know what sebum is. Your body uses sebum to protect your skin from things like bacteria, wind and UV exposure.

From this perspective, sebum is a good thing. Without sebum, your skin would be vulnerable to damage from the elements, causing you to develop scarring more easily and age at a faster rate than normal.

However, sebum has a downside. When your body produces too much sebum, it’s possible for the excess sebum to mix with dead skin cells. When this mix of sebum and dead skin cells gets inside a pore and causes a blockage, it can cause a pimple to develop. 

The specific type of acne you’ll get depends on the type of blockage. When sebum fully blocks a pore, meaning outside air can’t come into contact with it, you’ll develop a whitehead. If the pore is only slightly blocked, the outside air will cause the blocked pore to develop into a blackhead. 

If there’s bacteria trapped inside the pore underneath the blockage, you could even develop a painful type of acne called cystic or inflammatory acne.  

How CBD May Affect Sebum and Acne

CBD oil may help to treat acne by reducing and controlling the amount of sebum that your body produces. With your sebaceous glands secreting less sebum than before, the risk of your pores becoming blocked by a mix of sebum and dead skin cells decreases. 

Right now, research into CBD’s impact on sebum production is still in the early stages. However, recent studies show that CBD oil could have a major effect on sebum production. 

For example, a 2014 study looked at the effect that CBD has on the sebum-producing cells that are known as sebocytes. The researchers found that CBD exerts sebostatic effects, meaning it could inhibit the process through which these cells produce sebum.

The researchers also noted that CBD could have anti-inflammatory effects, meaning it may help to further prevent acne.

Like other studies of CBD, this research is limited in scope. However, it’s an interesting look into a substance that could soon be an important natural treatment for acne and other common skin conditions. 

Research into CBD also shows that it could have certain antibacterial effects, meaning it can kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria. For example, a well-known study from 1976 shows that CBD is antibacterial, specifically targeting the staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria. 

More research, this time from 2016, found that the cannabis plant may have antibacterial effects that are relevant for numerous conditions. As acne is worsened by the presence of bacteria, this could make CBD oil a potential treatment for conditions such as inflammatory acne.

Again, it’s important to remember that this research is in its early stages and that no conclusions can be drawn at this point. However, the studies of CBD and acne that are available today show impressive, promising results that are worth monitoring further. 

How to Use CBD to Treat Acne

As we’ve already mentioned, there’s no conclusive research showing that CBD oil will definitely prevent acne. If you have severe acne that’s negatively affecting your quality of life, you should consult a dermatologist. 

If you’re interested in trying CBD oil as a natural treatment for acne, doing so is a fairly simple process:

  1. Start by choosing a CBD oil product that’s designed for use on your skin. Most forms of CBD oil are designed for oral consumption and aren’t suitable for use as treatments for acne or other skin conditions.

    You can find several CBD skin products in our CBD Skincare section. For example, the Revive CBD Acne Serum by Somnio CBD is designed to treat and prevent whiteheads, blackheads and other types of acne.
  2. Use the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions. With acne, it’s often better to use products lightly than to overuse them. Follow the instructions provided with your CBD skincare product for the best results.
  3. Wait one to two months before assessing results. It can take some time for CBD or any other acne treatment to completely get rid of whiteheads, blackheads and other types of acne. Be patient and judge your results over time, not after one week of use.
  4. Focus on other habits for getting rid of acne. In addition to using CBD skincare products, make sure you keep your face clean and free of sweat, dirt and other substances. If you exercise, make sure you wash your face as soon as possible after you’ve finished. 

Almost all research into CBD and acne has focused on the topical use of CBD. This means that it’s generally best to stick to a skin-based form of CBD for optimal effects. If you prefer oral CBD drops or CBD e-liquid, remember that these may not be as effective as a CBD skincare cream. 

Whichever option you choose, remember that it can take some time for any reduction in acne to occur. Be patient and take regular photos of your skin over the course of one to two months so that you can accurately monitor your results. 

Finally, if CBD products aren’t effective at treating your acne, consider talking to your doctor or a dermatologist for more information about other skin treatments. 


While research is still in its early stages, there are several studies that show CBD oil could have positive effects as a treatment for acne. Most of these studies look at CBD oil’s potential effects on sebum production, as well as its effects as an antibacterial substance.

If you want to use CBD oil to get rid of acne and improve your skin, you’ll typically get the best results from a CBD skincare product, such as this CBD-based acne serum. You can find other CBD products designed for acne and anti-aging in our CBD skincare section.

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