Interested in using CBD for your skin?
If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably noticed the explosion of CBD products online and in stores across America. You also might be familiar with some of CBD’s most popular uses, like helping with stress, mood and providing targeted relief for aches and pains.
Well, for the past 20 years, scientists have been studying CBD’s potential for skincare too – and there’s a lot of promise.
So, how does this apply to your skin?
Here, things aren’t always so clear. That’s because skincare is personal, and there’s no magic pill. You know your skin best.
Really, it comes down to simplicity and consistency, and dermatologists agree. They recommend creating a simple routine, selecting high-quality products, and paying attention to what works well for you.
Sounds easy enough – but how do you know which CBD products are high-quality? And what’s the best way to use them to get your money’s worth?
We’re here to help.
In this 8-min guide, we’ll help you:
- Learn how CBD can help balance your skin.
- Choose the right CBD products for your skin.
- Design a simple CBD skin routine – and approach it like a scientist.
- Put your CBD skincare routine into action through a 6-Week Skincare Challenge.
Why CBD for skin?
Here’s the science. To understand how CBD works, first, you’ll need to understand a bit about your endocannabinoid system.
Your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a part of your body’s nervous system. Scientists often describe the ECS as a complex communication system. They agree that its primary role is to help your body balance itself, and this balance is called homeostasis.
It maintains this balance by regulating core functions like pain, appetite, inflammation-response, sleep, and mood. There are more, but you get the idea.
Here’s a simple breakdown of how the ECS works:
- Neurotransmitters called cannabinoids bind with nerve cell receptors. Consider these chemical “messages.”
- Receptors, called CB1 and CB2, receive these neurotransmitters and send messages to other cells, tissues, etc.
- Enzymes dissolve these neurotransmitters, or in other words, “pause” these messages.
The ECS is present throughout your entire nervous system – including your brain, spinal, digestive system, and skin. When triggered, it sends out more neurotransmitters to activate or deactivate body responses, depending on what you need.
How does the endocannabinoid system balance your skin?
Your skin has many layers, tissues, and fluids. To illustrate how your ECS helps balance it, think of your skin as a “team” rather than a “thing.”
As a team, your skin provides:
- Protection – from sun, weather, disease, allergens, etc.
- Sensation – hot, cold, touch, vibrations, pain, and itch.
- Regulation – temperature, blood vessel dilation, inflammation responses, sweat, and oil production.
- Absorption – Carrying gases, nutrients, and topical medications between skin layers and from the skin’s surface.
- Production – Skin cell renewal, hair growth, synthesizing Vitamin D, and other hormones.
Scientists have identified ECS receptors CB1 and CB2 in skin cells, skin glands, and hair follicles. They’ve found these receptors help regulate critical functions, like skin renewal, oil production, and inflammation-responses.
How can CBD help your skin?
Your skin works hard for you, and it’s normal for these functions to not be perfectly coordinated all the time. Sometimes, your skin needs a little support.
When scientists discovered the ECS, they asked, “Is it possible to target the ECS to shift this balance in our favor, on-demand?”
Here’s where cannabis comes in.
The ECS is only activated by cannabinoids. To date, there are only 3 places to find them:
- We produce them naturally as endo-cannabinoids (endo = within). The two most studied endocannabinoids are called AEA and 2-AG. They’re found in all of our tissues, organs, and bodily fluids that scientists have investigated so far.
- They’re produced naturally as phyto-cannabinoids (phyto = made by a plant). They’ve only been found in cannabis, which activates both receptors, and the beta-caryophyllene terpene, which activates the CB2 receptor exclusively.
Your skin has both CB1 and CB2 receptors, and there’s evidence that full-spectrum CBD can activate both of them. Full-spectrum means that a hemp-extract contains a federally-legal, trace amount of THC (less than 0.3%, to be exact).
Here are 2 skincare uses that scientists have identified for full-spectrum CBD:
1. Reducing oil production.
Acne occurs when excess oil, dirt, and dead skin clog pores. Acne-focused CBD studies hypothesized that CBD could be used as a preventative-solution by stopping excess oil production.
One study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that CBD triggered specific ECS receptors that inhibited oil-production and inflammation in oil-producing glands. They concluded that it was a “promising therapeutic agent” for treating acne on your face and body.
2. Calming painful, irritated skin.
Since the ECS regulates skin renewal and inflammation responses, CBD has also been studied to treat skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and dry, itchy skin.
One study in the Journal of Dermatological Science found that CBD reduces excess skin-cell growth, which is an issue with psoriasis. Another study in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) found that CBD was particularly effective for itchy skin. In a clinical trial, 81% of hemodialysis patients with itchy skin experienced a “complete reduction” of their symptoms after using a CBD cream.
Another clinical trial published in La Clinica Terapeutica followed 20 participants with scars and other symptoms related to psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. After applying a CBD-ointment for 3-months, researchers found that the ointment significantly improved skin symptoms, scar appearance, hydration, and elasticity.
How To Build Your CBD Skin Routine
Here’s where this education all comes together. Now that you know some of the science behind CBD products, how do you think they can help with your skin goals?
Once you have an idea, it’s time to start doing a little product research. Use these 4 guidelines to help you choose the best CBD products for your skin and build a routine to get the most from them.
Step 1: Find a trustworthy brand.
After recent legalizations, it’s no surprise that hundreds of CBD serums, lotions, creams, and salves have hit the market in a 17 billion dollar US industry.
So yeah – there’s a lot to sift through. We recommend starting with the company. Look for these qualities:
Do their products have clean ingredients?
Remember, your skin absorbs what’s applied to it. Research ingredients you’re unfamiliar with – we like using EWG’s Skin Deep Database.
Are their products independently tested?
It’s natural for CBD product makers (especially those who exclusively use full-spectrum extracts) to be a little above/below the CBD potency listed on the label. This is because every extraction batch is a little bit different. After all, each plant has a slightly different CBD concentration.
It’s up to you to make choices regarding potency. If you were wondering, topical CBD only penetrates your top skin layers – not your bloodstream. So, there’s zero chance of drowsiness or “getting high.”
Research a company’s products by finding product test reports on their website. The key here is transparency. A trustworthy company will always be happy to share this data with you and answer your questions.
Do they clearly outline their return policies and guarantees?
Reputable companies will have no problem offering returns or guarantees. Just be sure you understand their terms. Remember, once you start using a product, you’ll know if it irritates your skin in 7 days, tops.
Look on their website to find their returns policy and guarantees. If anything is unclear, reach out. If you don’t hear back in 5 business days, consider it a red flag.
Step 2: Choose the right CBD skin products.
To confidently choose the right product for each step of your routine, you’ll need to know your skin type. Try using this handy skin guide to precisely identify your skin type and choose the right product type.
There’s promising research that supports the use of topical CBD as a lotion, salve, cream, or oil. In this section, we’ll focus on these types of CBD products to help you protect your skin after it’s cleansed and exfoliated.
CBD lotions work well for all skin types, especially oily skin. They’re great for improving skin hydration and providing overall skin relief for the face and body. Look for soothing, moisture-locking ingredients like aloe and avocado oil. If your acne-prone, look for non-comedogenic (doesn’t clog pores) on the label. Use your CBD lotion daily until you see a shift in your hydration levels, and adjust as needed.
CBD salves are great for massage and targeting areas for extra healing and hydration. Look for a thick formula (like beeswax) that melts into your skin as you apply it. For surface issues, cover with a bandage afterward to prevent it from rubbing off.
CBD Serums & Massage Oils
CBD serums and massage oils can provide even deeper hydration and are excellent choices for facial skincare and body massage. They often include other healing ingredients for specific issues too! Like with lotion, if you’re acne-prone, look for non-comedogenic ingredients.
Step 3: Design your CBD skin routine.
Dermatologists agree that the best skincare routine is one that’s followed consistently over time. If you’re interested in a new CBD product, you’ll want to give it 6 weeks to start seeing long-term results.
Ultimately, this means that your ideal routine is the one that best fits your lifestyle – i.e., the one that you’ll actually look forward to doing every day!
And for you to get the most leverage from your products, you’ll need to use them in the right order. Below, we’ve included some fundamental guidelines that apply to all areas – face, body, and scalp – and all skin types.
Use these guidelines to design your daily and weekly routine:
Wash off oil, dirt, and grime before you exfoliate – no need to overdo it, either. A gentle cleanser rubbed in with a clean washcloth every day, and a scrub/mask once a week is A-OK. Consistent exfoliation will help your CBD product last longer and absorb deeper for better results.
Balance skin and target problem areas with a toner, serum, or both. Avoid drying alcohol-based toners as they can irritate skin and actually increase oil production.
Use a lotion, salve, or both on exfoliated skin for better absorption and hydration. Dermatologists recommend layering products by particle size, so apply thicker products last. Protection includes prevention, so keep your hands off your face and change your pillowcases once a week.
Step 4: Activate Your 6-Week Skincare Challenge.
Now, you’re going to activate your routine like a scientist and approach it like a (relaxed) clinical trial. For fun, let’s call it a 6-Week Skincare Challenge.
Your control variable (the part of the experiment that doesn’t change) is your CBD skin routine – the products and the process – you just designed.
Your hypothesis is that your routine will improve your skin in the way you desire. Note the specific results you’re trying to achieve.
Now, let’s put your 6-Week Skincare Challenge in action:
Put your skincare routine into your calendar and set reminders so you stick to it. Then, schedule in 10-min a day for results tracking – anytime you choose. Set these up as repeated, daily events in your calendar for 6 weeks.
Take photos once per week for visual tracking, and leave quick notes daily. A video diary, audio recording, notebook… all are valid, so use what you like. It doesn’t need to take longer than 10 minutes.
Use these prompts as a guide, and try pasting them in your calendar notes for easy access:
- What was your routine today? What did you do, and in what order? A simple bulleted list works.
- How’s your skin feel? Be honest and specific. If you experience irritation or other issues, you’ll have a timeline and can share these details with the company.
- How’s your skin look? Take pictures of specific areas you’re observing. Some results happen immediately; others take time. Documenting your progress helps you track results for both.
If a product isn’t good for your skin, you’ll know within 7 days. Otherwise, at the end of your 6-Week Skincare Challenge, you’ll have precise data for reviewing your immediate vs. long-term results.
Review your notes and reflect on what you’ve learned. Use these questions as a guide:
- Did you follow your designed routine every day? Changes should have been avoided, but if you had to switch something up, review when and why you make those changes.
- What were your results? Be specific. Review the progression of visual changes and then summarize what you see and your experience in general. Anything else noteworthy or surprising?
- Would you change anything? Here’s where you can optimize your routine or pat yourself on the back for creating an effective practice that gets results! If you want to make changes, simply design a new routine and repeat the 6-Week Skincare Challenge until you achieve the results you want!
Heal Your Skin with CBD Today
So, let’s summarize what we’ve learned today:
- Your skin is an active, complex system of cells that includes your endocannabinoid system (ECS).
- CBD has been proven to engage with your endocannabinoid system and help with specific skin issues.
- To choose a CBD skin product right for you, know your skin type, and develop a simple routine you can stick with.
- Test and document your routine in a 6-Week Skincare Challenge to track how well it works for you. Adjust accordingly.