Does smoking weed cause acne?

Does smoking weed cause acne?

The root of acne can often be traced back to lifestyle choices, but does smoking weed cause acne? From jogging after a joint to researching the best weed skincare, there is a sect of connoisseurs concerned with their health. This sect of the culture needs to know more about the connection between cannabis and acne.

The answer is complicated. While smoking cannabis isn’t directly correlated to skin conditions like acne, it can be related. Let’s break down exactly what’s at play in the relationship between weed and acne.

Key takeaways:

  • Acne can occur after glands in the skin get clogged.
  • Smoking may stress out the pulmonary system, leading to skin conditions.
  • Most research on smoking and acne used tobacco, not cannabis.
  • A case of the munchies could lead to choices that cause acne.
  • Cannabis can impact hormones, which is sometimes linked to acne.
  • Cannabinoids applied topically may benefit the skin.

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Does smoking weed cause acne

What is acne?

Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that occurs when the sebaceous glands, home of the hair follicles, get plugged up with dead skin cells and natural oils. This results in pimples and redness, also known as acne.

This skin condition is uncomfortable. Zits are painful and sometimes result in a scab that takes time to heal. Additionally, people with visible acne often feel more self conscious than they do with clear skin. Many hope to avoid getting acne if possible, but everyone has a zit from time to time.

Scientific research has shown that smoking tobacco is directly related to the development of acne after puberty. When it comes to smoking marijuana and acne formation, there may be a correlation despite a lack of direct scientific evidence.

Smoking and skin health

Smoking anything, tobacco or weed can impact the pulmonary system, which would ultimately impact skin health. Much of the research is on tobacco smoke, which includes carcinogens, nicotine, and other additives cannabis consumers don’t often worry about. However, some of the results could be a result of pulmonary stress, which can be a side effect of smoking weed.

Smokers tend to deal with:

  • Skin aging
  • Wrinkles
  • Pigmentation
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Sagging skin
  • Eczema
  • Spider veins
  • Alopecia
  • And, of course, acne

There isn’t a mountain of direct research connecting these skin conditions with smoking cannabis, but it is worth being aware of for those who choose to light up. While the act of smoking itself may be a cause of acne, there are some other indirect ways weed could contribute.

Acne and the munchies

Munchies—aka the urge to eat a lot after consuming cannabis—may cause some stoners to choose acne-causing foods. Cannabis can lead to an increased appetite, and if the Jack in the Box advertising campaigns are to be trusted, topped-up burgers, sauced fries, and similar fare are often on the munchies menu.

Unfortunately, overconsumption of these foods can lead to inflammation, which may make existing acne worse. Junk food may also trigger spikes in blood sugar, which sends a message to the skin to produce more sebum, causing pimples. There are some other topical implications, too.

Foods high in calories, sugar, and fat but low in nutrients don’t provide robust nutritional value. Large quantities of sugar can drain collagen levels, which leads to early aging. Heavily salted food saps moisture from the body, often causing bags under the eyes. With that and dry mouth from cannabis consumption combined, it’s always wise to have water handy at the sesh.
In this case, avoiding acne means paying attention to what goes into the body, even when high.

The impact of cannabis on hormones

Research has been dedicated to understanding the impact of cannabis on hormones in both sexes, with results varying.

Regular THC consumption was shown to depress prolactin (the hormone that produces milk for nursing parents), thyroid gland function, and growth hormone levels. If thyroid levels are low it can clog pores, but the other THC-induced hormonal imbalances haven’t shown any correlation to acne.

The same study indicated that the cannabinoid also elevated adrenal cortical steroids. The elevated cortisol forces glands to produce more oil, which may cause breakouts and acne.
Cannabis consumption may indeed alter hormone and stress levels, and sometimes hormone imbalances lead to acne. There’s no direct research on the matter, but there is room for study.

How does cannabis benefit the skin?

Though smoking marijuana doesn’t always lead to lustrous skin, some minor cannabinoids have shown promise for skin conditions. CBDV and CBC may be anti-inflammatory, and CBM and CBE (as well as CBC) have antioxidant properties. These properties may prove helpful for various skin conditions, acne included.

When it comes to acne, THCV might be a golden goose. According to the latest research, the cannabinoid may regulate sebum production, be antibacterial, and have anti-inflammatory properties. With these possible powers combined, it would be a powerhouse for acne treatments.

Cannabis skincare had a heyday at the height of the CBD craze, but as that has calmed down, great products have risen to the top. The Emerald CBD + Adaptogens Deep Moisture Glow Oil always comes to mind first because of its rich green color, but there’s a variety available. Smoking the stuff might not be the move, but that doesn’t mean cannabis can’t leave skin glowing.

RELATED: Can you overdose on THC? The legend of greening out

does smoking weed cause acne

Does smoking weed cause acne?

All in all, while smoking weed may not directly cause acne, it could play a role. From inspiring greasy meal choices to sparking changes to hormone levels, cannabis impacts parts of the system that regulate things like acne. Keep in mind that this could be true for those who only inhale secondhand marijuana smoke as well. However, no evidence shows vaping weed or eating edibles would affect your skin.

Someone dealing with chronic acne who isn’t sure about the cause may consider an elimination diet. Cutting out dairy, gluten, sugar, and even cannabis, to find the root of the issue. Adding one thing back in at a time every few weeks can help point to the problem product.

For those who maintain balance in diet, exercise, work, and play, there may be no need to worry about getting acne from smoking cannabis. However, with all of these factors that make for clear skin, never say never.

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.