Treatment options for acne are almost endless, from prescription topicals to oral antibiotics to more natural options like home remedies.
Now there’s another acne treatment throwing its hat in the ring.
The cannabis plant compound known as cannabidiol (CBD) has been hitting the skin care scene pretty hard, with beauty products like lotions, face masks, serums, lip balms, bath bombs — you name it.
So, it’s not exactly surprising to hear it may also be a viable treatment option for acne.
Keep reading to learn more about CBD for acne and check out our picks for the best products.
Acne is a common but frustrating condition. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology says acne is the most common skin condition in the United States.
Although there are plenty of different treatment options, most of the skin-clearing work centers around keeping skin clean and free of any acne-causing bacteria, and minimizing the amount of excess oil that can clog pores.
Right now, research on acne and CBD mostly looks at CBD’s ability to put an end to this skin-clogging, oil-building process that leads to acne.
In one 2014 study, researchers looked at the effects of CBD compounds on human skin and oil-producing glands.
The study found that CBD not only hindered oil production but also had anti-inflammatory effects on oil-producing glands. The researchers suggest that CBD is a “promising therapeutic agent” for treating acne.
But like most matters relating to CBD, more research is still needed to confirm the findings. Still, if you’re curious and want to try a CBD product to see if it clears your skin, there are a few options out there.
We chose these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. Each product in this article:
- is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing
- is made with U.S.-grown hemp
- contains no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
- passes testing for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA
We also considered:
- company certifications and manufacturing processes
- product potency
- overall ingredients
- indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:
- $ = under $30
- $$ = $30–$50
- $$$ = over $50
Best CBD cream for acne
CBDMedic Acne Treatment Medicated Cream
- Price: $
- CBD type: isolate
- CBD potency: 200 milligram (mg) per 1.4-ounce (oz.) tube
- COA: available by email or online with a batch number
This medicated product targets blemishes, blackheads, and whiteheads. Through everyday use, Charlotte’s Web says this formula can offering skin-healing effects as well.
The website doesn’t offer too much information on exactly how this formula works to fight acne. But it does promise that the cream is blended with THC-free hemp extract and other moisturizers, plus 1 percent salicylic acid — a popular acne-fighting ingredient that works by exfoliating the skin and maintaining clear pores.
For the best results, the company recommends first cleansing your skin using CBDMedic Natural Foaming Facial Cleanser.
Charlotte’s Web offers transparency when it comes to what goes into their products, presenting batch-specific COAs online. However, you need to have a batch number to access the COAs. If you want to review them before making a purchase, you can email the company.
They also offer information about their process, giving buyers a good look at their planting process and quality control processes, and they extend a discount to veterans.
Use code “HEALTH15” for 15% off.
Best CBD face serum for acne
Brown Girl Jane Glow Serum
- Price: $$$
- CBD type: broad-spectrum
- CBD potency: 750 mg per 1-oz. bottle
- COA: available online
This broad-spectrum CBD face oil is vegan, cruelty-free, and made without fragrance. Instead, you’ll find organic hempseed oil and broad-spectrum hemp oil on the ingredients list.
Brown Girl Janes says this hydrating oil’s anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants help create dewy, soft skin, without leaving a greasy look or feeling.
In addition, the company says this pick won’t clog pores and can be used by itself on clean skin, as an extra boost with moisturizer, or as the final step of a daily skin care routine both day and night.
This pick can also multitask — it’s food-grade, meaning it can double as a CBD tincture for internal wellness.
This product only seems to have reviews on the company’s website, which are all overwhelmingly positive. Nordstrom has only a couple of reviews for the product at the moment, and they’re positive too. Reviewers are extremely satisfied with this product, with some mixing it into their regular moisturizer and some using it on its own.
Best CBD face mist for acne
Vertly Soothing Florals Hydrating Face Mist
- Price: $$
- CBD type: full-spectrum
- CBD potency: 100 mg per 2-oz. bottle
- COA: available via product page
This vegan mist uses full-spectrum hemp extract to take advantage of the benefits from vitamins A, D, and E, which have plenty of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6).
This product also includes other skin-happy ingredients like:
- aloe vera for sealing in moisture
- witch hazel for shrinking pores, fighting acne, and help with balancing skin tone
- rose water, an antioxidant, for moisturizing and toning the skin
- lavender hydrosol, an ingredient with antibacterial properties, to help fight acne
- jasmine oil for extra antioxidants and help stimulating cellular regeneration
There are a few ways to incorporate this mist into your routine: Use it as a toner, a setting spray after applying makeup, or just as a shot of hydration during the day.
The company seems the proudest of the calendula flower ingredient, which they say can help calm skin with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also said to encourage tightness of the skin and improve hydration.
On Vertly’s website, the company explains that their process involves growing their plants in Northern California, bringing their harvest to their lab where it undergoes a slow-extraction process — up to 1 month — to produce their most potent oils.
One important note is that while the CBD oil that goes into each Vertly product is tested for contaminants, the final products are tested for potency only.
There are only a small number of reviews for this product right now — both on the company website and on Macy’s website — but they’re positive.
Best CBD face mask for acne
CBDfx Charcoal Face Mask
- Price: $
- CBD type: broad-spectrum
- CBD potency: 50 mg per mask
- COA: available online
This CBD sheet mask targets blemishes and oily skin using full-spectrum CBD and activated charcoal. Charcoal has antibacterial properties, which may be particularly helpful for acne-prone skin.
Lactic acid also helps remove dead skin cells, fighting hyperpigmentation.
Reviews of the mask are mostly positive, with one person noting their skin felt brighter and less oily after using the mask.
CBDfx says their products are made from organically grown hemp. They also offer a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with the product, you can get a refund within 30 days of ordering.
When you’re shopping for CBD, it’s important to keep in mind that these products aren’t all created the same.
The FDA hasn’t approved any over-the-counter CBD products yet, so the best practice is to look very closely at products before you buy. Here’s what to keep your eyes open for:
- Testing. Does your product come with an up-to-date, comprehensive COA from a reputable third-party lab? This is an important factor, as the COA will tell you whether the product contains as much CBD and THC as the label says it does. It’ll also specify if the product passed tests for contaminants like mold, pesticides, and heavy metals.
- Transparency. The most trustworthy companies will be up front about where their hemp is grown and how they make their products.
- Ingredients. Look at the ingredient list before purchasing. This will help you spot ingredients you may be allergic to. Plus, you can also check for added acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid.
- Reputation. Some CBD brands have pending lawsuits or have gotten FDA warning letters. Research before you buy so you can avoid these brands.
It’s a good idea to read the instructions on your CBD product carefully before using it.
Some products, like oils or creams, are intended for daily use, sometimes twice daily.
Depending on your product, you may be able to use it on its own to fight blemishes. You can also mix it into your regular moisturizer, or even make it a part of your makeup routine. For example, the CBD mist on our list can be used as a setting spray.
The World Health Organization says CBD is generally thought to be safe, but it’s possible some people may experience side effects, including:
- changes in appetite
- changes in weight
To play it safe, it’s best to talk with your doctor before trying CBD, especially if you’re taking any medications, as CBD may interact with some medications.
It’s also essential to use caution with any new-to-you topical products. While it’s doubtful that topical CBD products will cause any of the side effects listed above, it’s still a good idea to check out the ingredients before applying the product. This will lower the odds of an allergic reaction.
Even better, performing a patch test ahead of time will help you avoid major irritation or allergic reactions before spreading the CBD acne product on your entire face.
Patch tests are simple. Just put a little bit of product on the inside of your wrist and wait 24 hours to see how your skin reacts. If your skin has irritation symptoms like redness or itchiness, don’t use the product again.
Remember, don’t apply topicals on broken skin.
Although research around CBD for acne is limited right now, available studies do suggest CBD is a promising treatment option for acne-prone skin.
CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects on oil-producing glands. In addition, it may hinder oil production.
The CBD products listed here may have some benefits for acne. They all have encouraging reviews and come from transparent companies with overall positive reputations.
Be sure to look at ingredients carefully before buying, and always perform a patch test before applying any new-to-you product to larger areas of your skin.
Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.
Breanna Mona is a writer based in Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a master’s degree in media and journalism and writes about health, lifestyle, and entertainment.