Is CBD The Miracle Acne Treatment We've All Been Waiting For?

photographed by Collins Nai.
Cannabidiol, more commonly referred to as CBD, is settling into the beauty community quite well, having infiltrated everything from body care to makeup. Olivia Wilde and Mandy Moore swear by it for muscle and eczema relief. Others prefer to use it in the form of tinctures to reduce anxiety. And some say it’s the best conditioning lash secret out there. But did you ever guess it could heal and prevent breakouts?
After spotting Myaderm’s Blemish Control Moisturizer — an acne-fighting daily lotion that uses CBD, an anti-inflammatory, as its key ingredient — we wondered: Could this be the adult acne treatment we never knew we needed? The answer isn't cut and dry, but there might be good reason to give it a try soon.
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A study conducted in 2014 by the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows evidence of CBD containing properties that regulate the oil production by your sebaceous glands, thus effectively controlling potential breakouts. This is would make your life a little easier if you're not looking to get a prescription from your doctor. Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, says that the only readily available drugs with similar abilities are oral isotretinoin (a.k.a. Accutane), hormonal treatments (birth control pills), and spironolactone.
But when will you actually find yourself in Sephora, debating whether you should get this CBD spot treatment versus that one? It may not be as soon as you'd hope. Just because CBD has been shown to control oil production in a lab doesn’t mean every skin-care brand will embrace the benefits just yet. “There is a big difference between activity in the lab and real world effectiveness of a drug,” Dr. Zeichner says. “A topical product needs to be formulated in a way that allows the active drug to be stable and to penetrate through the skin to reach its target. Many drugs that showed great potential actually have ended up failing in clinical trials because they ended up not working in actual patients despite promising pre-clinical data.”
Still, if you’re in the market to manage hormonal breakouts, there’s a possibility that CBD in its other forms could help. Dr. Zeichner confirms that although we don’t have a lot of strong data to support the idea that stress reduction is a valid acne treatment, taking whatever methods necessary to keep stress levels low can’t hurt.
But before you search for the trendiest CBD skin care online, dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, says to pause, do your research, and then ask your physician or derm before self-medicating. “Not enough studies have been done to fully support the use of topical CBD as a monotherapy (or single therapy) in treating acne, and many cases of acne can cause disfiguring scars and require prescription oral medication to preserve tissue and control disease quickly,” Dr. Nazarian explains. “Oral versions of CBD may potentially interact with other oral medications and should be taken with caution, and only after clearance from your physician.”

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