Anyone who has dealt with acne in their life knows that it can take a serious toll on your skin. From your run-of-the-mill blackheads and whiteheads to angry cysts and nodular acne, fighting against acne break-outs can feel like an uphill battle with little chance of victory.
Even when you do manage to get your acne under control, leftover acne scarring can be just as persistent and hard to heal.
Can CBD reduce acne scars?
We know for definite that endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors are found in the brain and the immune system, however, there is now evidence to support the idea that targeting ECS receptors in the skin may play a huge role in how the skin protects itself and recovers from trauma.
Through targeted skin care treatments, evidence shows that CBD oil benefits acne by reducing breakouts to prevent the occurrence of scarring. There is also evidence that the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD oil can help how skin heals after more intensive acne therapy treatments. Here’s how CBD could help you to heal your acne scars once and for all.
What does the science say?
While the popularity of CBD might feel like a relatively new phenomenon in the UK skin care industry, scientific research around how the endocannabinoid system contributes to skin health has been accumulating for years.
A 2009 paper suggested that endocannabinoid receptors in the skin may play a crucial role in controlling “the proper and well-balanced proliferation, differentiation and survival, as well as immune competence and/or tolerance, of skin cells.”
A newer 2018 review of research also explored how the “dysregulation” of the endocannabinoid system could be linked to skin conditions like acne, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Emerging evidence has also revealed how CBD could help to reduce scarring. A study published earlier this year found that “topical treatment with CBD-enriched ointment significantly improved the skin” in patients suffering from scarring associated with inflammatory skin conditions like dermatitis and psoriasis.
How does CBD help different types of acne scarring?
Before you embark on a mission to eliminate all traces of acne scarring from your face, it is important to know what kind of scar you’re dealing with so that you can use the appropriate skin care treatments. There are several different types of acne scarring, and some are more difficult to treat than others.
One of the most common and easily treatable forms of acne scarring is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). When the skin experiences trauma (from a cut or acne lesion) it produces excess melanin to aid in its recovery, which is what causes this type of hyperpigmentation.
Though technically not a scar, dark marks and hyperpigmentation can occur at the site of a previous acne pimple, leaving a sort of “shadow” of the spot that was once there.
Depending on your skin tone, the severity of the damage and how old it is, these patches (also known as “macules”) can range in colour from red to pink, purple, brown, or black. While this can happen in all skin types, it can be more noticeable in darker skin tones.
Hypertrophic scarring, also known as keloid scarring, occurs when the body over-produces collagen to heal an acne lesion in the skin. This overproduction of collagen causes a mass of raised scar tissue on the skin’s surface, which results in a bumpy texture. This type of scarring can also occur in facial piercings.
Atrophic or depressed scars present themselves as small indentations in the skin and develop when there has actually been a loss of tissue that doesn’t heal properly. This type of acne scarring is commonly known as ice pick scars or boxcar scars.
Boxcar scarring is most commonly found in areas of the face where the skin is thicker, which is why you typically see it appearing on the cheeks and jawline.
Benefits of CBD oil for skin scarring
One of the most effective benefits of CBD oil for acne scarring is that it can help to stop break-outs from even happening in the first place.
Research shows that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may help to speed up recovery of acne flare-ups and prevent future break-outs. This, in turn, helps to prevent scarring, which is worsened when acne lesions grow and rupture skin pores.
Some research has also pointed towards CBD’s antibacterial properties, which could help to reduce the severity of acne breakouts and prevent acne bacteria from growing on the skin.
It is widely known that antioxidants increase the effectiveness of SPF to reduce sun damage by providing an extra layer of protection to the skin. CBD has been shown to have powerful antioxidant properties, which are beneficial in protecting the skin from free radicals and environmental damage.
Since hyperpigmentation is caused by excess melanin production in the skin, sun exposure can prolong the life of dark marks left over from an acne break-out.
Using topical CBD products along with your sunscreen can supercharge your sun protection, so that dark marks and hyperpigmentation fade faster.
Speed up skin healing
While atrophic and hypertrophic scarring is much harder to treat than hyperpigmentation, CBD can work with more intensive forms of skin care therapy to help reduce the appearance of severe scarring.
One of the most effective treatments for reducing atrophic acne scarring is micro-needling, which involves creating tiny cuts in the skin with a derma roller or derma pen.
While you might think this process would result in more scarring, micro-needling actually stimulates the skin to produce more collagen to heal itself, which helps older acne scars to heal.
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD may help to speed up recovery after a micro-needling session, which can leave the skin inflamed and puffy as the skin’s healing mechanism kicks in. Using a topical CBD treatment can equip the skin with the essential nutrients it needs to rebuild itself healthier than before.
Using topical CBD can also help to speed up recovery after a laser session. These sessions involve using an intense pulsed light (IPL) laser to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum from clogging up your pores.
Intensive forms of acne therapy like microdermabrasion, laser treatments and chemical peels can also increase your skin’s sensitivity to sun damage. As mentioned earlier, the antioxidants found in CBD can help to increase the effectiveness of SPF and reduce sun damage in the skin.
How to use CBD oil to reduce acne scarring
For more severe atrophic or hypertrophic scarring, using a topical CBD product in conjunction with a more intensive form of acne treatment like micro-needling, microdermabrasion, and laser therapy is the most effective way to say goodbye to your acne scarring for good.
Taking an oral CBD supplement or using a CBD oil tincture could also help to heal your skin from the inside out, as consuming CBD can help your immune system to fight inflammation.
To reduce the appearance of dark marks and hyperpigmentation leftover from spots and pimples, try using a CBD-infused facial oil at the end of your routine and massaging into the skin to stimulate blood flow. Be sure to follow up with a sunscreen that has a minimum of SPF 30 during the day to lighten hyperpigmentation.