Could cannabis help your skin? Here’s what science has to say

Cannabis skin care: Sustainable beauty products in a flat lay.

At one point, brands in various industries attempted to cash in on a green rush by putting CBD in everything. In 2019, traditional beauty brands were racing to capture a share of consumers seeking cannabis skin care. Sephora, for example, went on a PR tour when they started carrying CBD products, becoming an authority on vetting hemp beauty brands.

Unfortunately, brands like Kristen Bell’s Happy Dance (a product made by Lord Jones) have since shut down, citing an oversaturated market. These failures don’t mean there’s no value in adding cannabis or CBD to skin care products, though. Take it from the Reddit thread of Lord Jones evangelists panicking after the line was pulled off Sephora shelves with Happy Dance at the start of 2023.

A 2018 study explored the endocannabinoid system in the skin as a new pharmacological avenue for conditions like psoriasis, scleroderma, and skin cancer. Those findings have inspired further inquiry into how cannabinoids could promote more even-toned, smooth skin.

Science and customer testimony both support the idea that there’s value to cannabis skin care–as long as you choose the right products.

Benefits of CBD and cannabis in skin care products

Knowing that the dermis and epidermis have cannabinoid receptors, it’s easy to believe that cannabis can promote healthy skin. One study applied 3 percent “cannabis seed extract” to patients’ cheeks for 12 weeks. The treatment “effectively” reduced sebum production and took care of acne-caused redness.

Other research shows the plant could be promising for vitiligo and melasma when applied topically. Additionally, topical cannabinoids contribute to the recovery of the outermost skin barrier, the skin’s natural protection from free radicals. The same study confirmed the anti-inflammatory properties of weed lotions, balms, and salves.

Another study confirmed the antimicrobial properties of these products. Each of these benefits can promote clear, even-toned, luminous skin. But there are some nuances to shopping for cannabis skin care.

The differences between cannabis, CBD, and hemp seed oil

Superfood and skin care products have used hemp seed oil in superfoods and skin care products for decades, but it is not the same as cannabis and CBD. However, when looking at the landscape of beauty blogs and media, many outlets seem to conflate the two. Let’s sort out the differences.

An extract of harvested and cured hemp flower is used to craft CBD oil. These plants are bred to contain large amounts of CBD and low quantities of THC in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill. The ratio of other cannabinoids like CBN in CBD oils can vary, but fellow compounds in the products are usually listed on the label.

Cannabis oil is another flower-based extract, but it will often also have higher concentrations of THC. Unless made with Delta-8, products made with cannabis oil will be sold in a state-regulated cannabis shop. There isn’t a lot of research into which cannabinoids are most receptive to skin care, but many old heads believe in the power of the full spectrum (aka more than just CBD).

Hemp seed oil is cold pressed from hemp seeds, which creates a potent extraction of omegas and beneficial fatty acids. Though improved skin is listed as a benefit of consuming and applying hemp seed oil, the composition of seed oil differs from those made with the flowering plant.

Where to get cannabis skin care

Now that we know what cannabis skin care products can do and what the compounds found in these products are, you may be curious about where to get them. As we mentioned, those seeking THC-infused skin care products will want to travel to a dispensary, but CBD skin care is available online.

Thanks to the CBD beauty frenzy, a few lush brands of CBD face oils, like Herbivore Emerald Glow Oil, are available nationwide. The attractive bottle of bright green oil contains 100 milligrams of CBD and other adaptogens like ashwagandha and turmeric extracts.

If the budget doesn’t cover a $60 bottle of face oil, cannabis skin care can be made at home. The wellness-centered book CBD & Chill by Dazey founders Tori Bodin and Chris Tarello contains recipes for the face, body, and hair. The Total Detox Bath Salts, Strawberry Detoxifying Mask, and Dry Scalp Elixir are made with ingredients found at the local grocery store.

However you choose to lather it on, cannabis, CBD, and even hemp seed oil could be the missing step in your skin care routine. With scientifically-supported evidence and anecdotal support, it seems there’s something to putting pot in your beauty supplies.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.