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Treatment options for acne are almost endless, from prescription topicals to oral antibiotics, to more natural options like home remedies.

Now there’s another acne regimen throwing its hat in the ring.

The cannabis plant compound known as cannabidiol (CBD) has been hitting the skin care scene pretty hard, with beauty products like lotions, face masks, serums, lip balms, bath bombs — you name it.

So, it’s not exactly surprising to hear it may also be a viable option for easing the symptoms of acne.

Keep reading to learn more about CBD for acne and check out our picks for the best products.

Acne is a common but frustrating condition. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology says acne is the most common skin condition in the United States.

Although there are plenty of different treatment options, most of the skin-clearing work centers around keeping skin clean and free of any acne-causing bacteria, and minimizing the amount of excess oil that can clog pores.

Right now, research on acne and CBD mostly looks at CBD’s ability to put an end to this skin-clogging, oil-building process that leads to acne.

In one 2014 study, researchers looked at the effects of CBD compounds on human skin and oil-producing glands.

The study found that CBD not only hindered oil production but also had anti-inflammatory effects on oil-producing glands. The researchers suggest that CBD is a “promising therapeutic agent” for managing acne.

But like most matters relating to CBD, more research is still needed to confirm the findings. Still, if you’re curious and want to try a CBD product to see if it clears your skin, there are a few options out there.

We chose these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. Each product in this article:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing
  • is made with U.S.-grown hemp
  • contains no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes testing for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA

We also considered:

  • company certifications and manufacturing processes
  • product potency
  • overall ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $30
  • $$ = $30–$50
  • $$$ = over $50

Best CBD moisturizer for acne

cbdMD Daily Moisturizer

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 600 mg per 2-oz. container
  • COA: available on product page

It’s tempting to avoid moisturizer when you’re battling breakouts or have acne-prone skin, but hydration is still a necessary step to keep skin healthy.

Thankfully, cbdMD’s Daily Moisturizer is lightweight and contains hydrating ingredients that help soothe skin without clogging pores.

In addition to broad-spectrum CBD which may help with inflammation and reduce oil production, it contains sachi inchi peptides, rosehip seed oil, glycerin, and algae extract that act as moisturizers.

Reviewers comment that it doesn’t leave a greasy feeling and wears well under makeup and SPF, making this a particularly refreshing option as a summertime moisturizer (but it’s great all year round, too!)


  • lightweight
  • manufactured by transparent CBD brand
  • the company offers a 60-day satisfaction guarantee
  • simple ingredient list sans sulfates, parabens, dyes, or perfumes


  • some skin types may require more hydration or a thicker moisturizer
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Best CBD face mask for acne

CBDfx Charcoal Face Mask

  • Price: $
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 50 mg per mask
  • COA: available online

This CBD sheet mask targets blemishes and oily skin using broad-spectrum CBD and activated charcoal. Charcoal has antibacterial properties, which may be particularly helpful for acne-prone skin.

Lactic acid also helps remove dead skin cells, which may help hyperpigmentation.

Reviews of the mask are mostly positive, with one person noting their skin felt brighter and less oily after using the mask.

CBDfx says its products are made from organically grown hemp. They also offer a 60-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with the product, you can get a refund within 60 days of ordering.


  • budget-friendly
  • contains antibacterial properties
  • 60-day satisfaction guarantee


  • only one mask per package
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Best hemp seed cleanser for acne

Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Cleanser

  • Price: $
  • CBD type: contains hemp seed instead of CBD
  • CBD potency: N/A
  • COA: N/A

There are plenty of cleansers made for acne, but if you’re interested in a hemp-derived option that doesn’t contain CBD, this pick by Kiehl’s is a budget-friendly choice. The brand says that this foaming cleanser is light, gentle, and safe for all skin types — including sensitive ones.

A couple of the key ingredients in the mostly naturally-derived formula include cannabis Sativa seed oil and green oregano oil, which may be helpful to the skin (although more studies are needed).

The cleanser is noncomedogenic, so your pores should stay clear.

Google reviewers are overall huge fans, many noting help with acne. They do point out there is a scent, which most claim not to mind. One reviewer says they noticed it had a peeling effect on their face, so they switched to using it on body acne and found that it helped. It’s important to mention that the brand states this product is only intended for use on the face, however.


  • budget-friendly
  • safe for all skin types
  • positive reviews


  • is scented
  • doesn’t contain CBD, only hemp seed
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ProductTypeOther ingredientsCBD typeCBD potency
CBDMedic Acne Treatment Medicated Creamcreamsalicylic acidisolate200 mg per 1.4-oz. tube
CBDfx Charcoal Face Maskmaskactivated charcoal, lactic acidbroad-spectrum50 mg per mask
Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Cleansercleansergreen oregano oilN/AN/A

When you’re shopping for CBD, it’s important to keep in mind that these products aren’t all created the same.

The FDA hasn’t approved any over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products yet, so the best practice is to look very closely at products before you buy. Here’s what to keep your eyes open for:

  • Testing: Does your product come with an up-to-date, comprehensive COA from a reputable third-party lab? This is an important factor, as the COA will tell you whether the product contains as much CBD and THC as the label says it does. It’ll also specify if the product passed tests for contaminants like mold, pesticides, and heavy metals.
  • Transparency: The most trustworthy companies will be up front about where their hemp is grown and how they make their products.
  • Ingredients: Look at the ingredient list before purchasing. This will help you spot ingredients you may be allergic to. Plus, you can also check for added acne-managing ingredients like salicylic acid.
  • Reputation: Some CBD brands have pending lawsuits or have gotten FDA warning letters. Research before you buy so you can avoid these brands.

It’s a good idea to read the instructions on your CBD product carefully before using it.

Some products, like oils or creams, are intended for daily use, sometimes twice daily.

Depending on your product, you may be able to use it on its own to address blemishes. You can also mix it into your regular moisturizer, or even make it a part of your makeup routine. When mixing products, exercise caution and stop using if your skin doesn’t react well.

Seeing a dermatologist is the best way to find a targeted approach to treating your acne. A dermatologist can determine your acne type and help you find a skin care routine or other treatment plan that works best for you.

If your breakouts are severe, interfering with your daily life, and even painful, your doctor may suggest options like prescription topicals or oral medications.

If you’re looking for treatments dealing with the aftermath of acne, chemical peels and microneedling are two popular options to help fade the appearance of acne scars. In the meantime, remember to try your best not to pick your blemishes; this may lead to scarring and can further irritate your skin.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says CBD is generally thought to be safe, but it’s possible some people may experience side effects, including:

  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

To play it safe, it’s best to talk with your doctor before trying CBD, especially if you’re taking any medications, as CBD may interact with some medications.

It’s also essential to use caution with any new-to-you topical products. While it’s doubtful that topical CBD products will cause any of the side effects listed above, it’s still a good idea to check out the ingredients before applying the product. This will lower the odds of an allergic reaction.

Even better, performing a patch test ahead of time will help you avoid major irritation or allergic reactions before spreading the CBD acne product on your entire face.

Patch tests are simple. Just put a little bit of product on the inside of your wrist and wait 24 hours to see how your skin reacts. If your skin has irritation symptoms like redness or itchiness, don’t use the product again.

Remember, don’t apply topicals on broken skin.

Can CBD make acne worse?

At this time, there is no available research suggesting CBD can worsen acne.

Your skin, especially if it’s sensitive and prone to breakouts, may not tolerate certain skin care products thanks to other ingredients that may be hiding in the product. Performing a patch test before using your CBD acne product is always a good idea. This way, you will know how your skin may react to it before applying it to your entire face.

Can CBD control cystic acne?

The research on CBD and acne is limited for now. The studies available on CBD’s possible effect on acne point to it reducing excess oil that usually leads to breakouts.

Sincecystic acne tends to be severe, it’s best to visit a dermatologist if you can. A doctor can suggest prescription medications for cystic acne if they determine you can benefit from them.

Can CBD control hormonal acne?

If your hormonal acne is mild, you may notice benefits from OTC topical skin care products like CBD. If your hormonal acne is more severe, including cystic bumps, for example, a visit to your dermatologist is in order.

Your doctor can determine if your breakouts are, in fact, related to hormones. Again, more severe forms of acne usually benefit from prescription options, whether topical or oral.

What properties of CBD help with acne?

Research has found that CBD can deter oil production and also has anti-inflammatory results on oil-producing glands.

Although research around CBD for acne is limited right now, available studies do suggest CBD is possibly a promising management option for acne-prone skin.

CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects on oil-producing glands. In addition, it may hinder oil production.

The CBD products listed here may have some benefits for acne. They all have encouraging reviews and come from transparent companies with overall positive reputations.

Be sure to look at ingredients carefully before buying, and always perform a patch test before applying any new-to-you product to larger areas of your skin.

Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Breanna Mona is a writer based in Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a master’s degree in media and journalism and writes about health, lifestyle, and entertainment.