By Dr. Dana Lillestol, PhD
Health Entrepreneur, Health Advocate, Health Educator
CBD and Skin Health
The skin is the largest organ covering the human body. It consists of various
layers of cells that together act as a barrier to keep unwanted biological and chemical
substances from penetrating and entering the body (1). The avascular outermost layer of the skin is called the epidermis, and it is comprised of keratinocytes which participate in the protection against inflammation and immunological insults. The most superficial layer of the epidermis is the Stratum Corneum, which is the most difficult layer to penetrate.
Below the epidermis is the vascular dermis layer, which contains additional cell types
such as fibroblasts and nerve endings playing a strategic role in pain perception.
A permeable skin layer allows intrusive yet subtle influences to penetrate the skin
and create an immunological response, which can lead to the generation of reactive
oxygen species (ROS). Reactive oxygen species cause oxidative stress (pre-mature
aging) causing cell damage and left unguarded, eventual chronic inflammation. ROS
are also implicated in skin disorders and skin aging. Keratinocytes are the main cell
types in the epidermis and are particularly vulnerable to environmental stressors.
The discovery of a skin endocannabinoid system and its role in maintaining skin
homeostasis has created increased interest in the use of cannabidiol or CBD as
a treatment for a variety of skin conditions (2). CBD can work with skin in one of two ways— topically and transdermally (3). An evolving body of research suggests topical application of CBD may be effective for some skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, itching, and inflammatory conditions. Topical CBD preparations have a local effect but do not go into the bloodstream. In comparison, transdermal CBD has a carrier protein that will transport CBD into the blood stream and eventually effect the overall body response.
CBD’s role is to support the endocannabinoid system in the skin utilizing Cannabinoid
(CB) receptors which reach into the epidermis through the peripheral nervous system.
The usual treatment for inflammatory skin conditions is the use of steroid creams.
These substances, however, carry side effects, such as thinning of the skin around the
armpits, eyes, and groin. So, they can only be applied for two weeks at a time and then
discontinued. However, CBD applied to the skin has a local effect through passive
diffusion, penetrating through the pores and then stimulating the CB receptors. The
application of CBD has an immune-positive response unlike pharmaceutical steroid
creams it can be applied to the skin on a long-term basis.
CBD Helps Smooth and Refine Surface Skin Texture
CBD combats tired skin that shows age, it plumps and brightens complexions for
a lighter, rejuvenated look. Aging skin is dry and can appear aesthetically unpleasing.
Furthermore, dry skin accentuates fine lines, wrinkles, and other blemishes on the skin.
CBD can take care of these issues by hydrating and bringing moisture back to the skin
Why wrinkles, you may ask? Dermal water content is directly proportional to the
elasticity of the skin and the formation of wrinkles4. In fact, in individuals older than 60
years of age, dermal water content is controlled by a critical factor, collagen. It has been reported when CBD is applied to the skin, dermal water content is increased and so too the elasticity of the skin which provides a protective effect against ultraviolet rays.
Issues of Aging Skin
Why you may ask, “Is my skin so fragile to tears, bruises and bleeding?” The
following are reasons, a loss of elastin and a significant decrease in collagen, so there
is a lack of cushion with less fat in the dermis. Therefore, blood vessels are more
prominent on the back of the hand. Collagen is a structural protein critical to our skin’s
health. It is the most abundant protein in the body making up eighty percent of our skin, bones, connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons. CBD is a powerful antioxidant,
promoting and encouraging greater collagen production, especially when it is lacking.
CBD has been touted as a natural anti-aging solution for its ability to reduce the
appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as to combat saginess. When repeatedly
applied to the skin greater dermal water content, improved elasticity and collagen are
However, the underlying molecular mechanisms need to be fully identified. Initial
studies are positive yet more research is necessary. So, what do you have to lose? Try
applying CBD to your face or any areas of inflammation and watch what happens! The
jury is out. It is your turn to report in!
Kirk, R.D., Akanji, T. et al. (2022, October). Evaluations of skin permeability of cannabidiol and its topical formulations by skin membrane-based parallel artificial membrane permeability assay and Franz cell diffusion assay. Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids, 5(1).,129-137. Retrieved July 25, 2023.
Ilesol Pharmaceuticals. (2023, March). CBD and Skin: A Comprehensive Report. Retrieved July 28, 2023 at https//ilesol.com/cbd-and-skin-a-comprehensive=report/
How is CBD absorbed through the skin? Retrieved July 25. 2023 at https://www.cbdmd.com/blogs/posts/how-is-cbd-absorbed-through-the-skin,
Ikarashi, N., Shiseki, M., Yoshida, R. et al. (2021, September). Cannabidiol applications increase cutaneous aquaporin-3 and exert a moisturizing effect. Pharmaceuticals, 14(9), 879.
Botanika Life. (2022, November). How CBD tightens skin and helps wrinkles. Retrieved August 2, 2023 at https://botanika.life/blogs/news/how-cbd-tightens-skin-and-helps-wrinkles