Can CBD clear-up your complexion? Here's what you need to know

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The beauty industry loves a good It ingredient. Whether  the skin-plumping benefits of hyaluronic acid (which may not be that great, I’ll report back) or the brightening effects of vitamin C, by the time one fabulous ingredient starts making headlines, there are already five products waiting in the wings to be scooped up by consumers.

Aside from vitamin C, most of these “skin saviours” lack the clinical data to back up what’s being advertised. So, when cannabis derivatives started making their way into serums, lotions and makeup a few years ago it was exciting, to be sure, but it had some people wondering if they really were the all-natural wonder that would save our complexions.

Toronto skincare guru and makeup artist Victoria Radford has done extensive research on CBD oil for her own line of products. “CBD oil is very effective on the face,” she told me. “If you’re skin is super-angry and inflamed, absolutely CBD oil will help it.”

The good news is, preliminary clinical studies are backing up these statements. There is evidence that CBD oil can inhibit sebum production, which may be the root cause of acne, and that it has anti-inflammatory effects on the skin.

So, what’s the problem, you might ask? Well, these are just preliminary trials, so nothing is proven yet. And, at the moment, CBD oil is rather expensive.

“CBD oil is one of the most anti-inflammatory ingredients that we have,” Radford says. “All acne is inflammation in some sense — acne is basically very small infections in the skin that become inflamed and red.”

According to Radford, that redness will calm down thanks to CBD oil. Radford also notes that CBD oil is antibacterial, and is gentler on the skin than most other acne treatments, which are generally acid-based.

But not all acids are bad either. For really kicking acne to the curb, Radford recommends using a pore-clearing salicylic acid and then applying CBD oil on top to aid in healing the skin.

Is there a cost-effective way to do this? We’re waiting to see cannabis skincare products on the market in Canada, and that will come later this year or early next thanks to legalization 2.0. You could try making something yourself. Try adding CBD purchased from a legal retailer to a carrier oil and applying directly to your skin — and if you really want to be frugal, just spot treat any blemishes to see if this works for your complexion.

“Hemp seed oil is also a new thing in skincare,” Radford adds. “It won’t clog pores at all. CBD oil would work well with hemp seed oil, because it’s a similar molecule.”

Some studies also suggest that CBD could be beneficial for more serious conditions, like rosacea. “Any kind of disease in the skin is a form of unhappiness, whether that’s eczema, acne, rosacea — those are all your skin not being balanced,” Radford contends. “And that’s specifically what CBD oil is good at — bringing balance to the skin.”

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