Research shows that cannabidiol, or CBD, - one of the active compounds in hemp & marijuana plants can help sensitive skin. Unfortunately, we do not know enough though to say what concentration of CBD in a skincare product would be effective or what product format (for example, an oil, ointment or water-based solution) would work best.
Human body produces chemicals that are similar in structure to CBD. Because of that, CBD can bind to special receptors in our skin cells. This can, for example, regulate skin’s inflammatory response and reduce itching via the effect on sensory nerve fibers. CBD can also restrain the growth of bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus, which is associated with weakened skin barrier and eczema.
Both cannabidiol extracted from hemp and marijuana plants and cannabidiol produced in a lab synthetically can have a similar effect in the skin.
While we have good research with strong hypotheses on how topical CBD can work, and even confirmation of its effectiveness in animal models, there are no solid studies yet conducted with human volunteers investigating the effects of topical CBD on sensitive skin and skin affected by inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema. A small study showed that a topical ointment with CBD improved skin barrier function and reduced inflammation in patients with inflammatory skin conditions (eczema and psoriasis). The study, unfortunately, did not include a control group though, which makes interpreting the results very difficult.
We do not have any reliable data yet on what concentration of CBD in a topical product is effective (which is a very important consideration given that CBD has low bioavailability), nor we know what is the best vehicle for delivering CBD into the skin. For example, while most CBD skincare products available on the market are oils or salves, early research shows that water-based formulations might be most effective (but way more expensive and difficult to produce).
There are no reports currently suggesting that CBD is unsafe when applied topically. While high quality studies are lacking, cases of skin irritation are not widely reported. Still, for people with sensitive skin and suffering from skin allergies, it is best to patch-test skincare with CBD and discontinue the use if any signs of irritation occurs.
No, cannabidiol (CBD) does not have any psychoactive effects on humans even when ingested or inhaled, and also will not have any psychoactive effects when applied to the skin.
A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30993303/
Topical Administration of Cannabidiol: Influence of Vehicle-Related Aspects on Skin Permeation Process - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33114270/
Can marijuana help eczema? - https://nationaleczema.org/get-the-facts-cbd/
Photo credit: Manish Panghal