How Cannabis Can Help Treat & Prevent Dry, Chapped Skin

Being windswept looks good in photos, but rarely feels good. Think about how much the wind and other elements affect our outer layer; chapped leather lips and scaly skin come to mind. Luckily, research shows that cannabis can significantly boost skin health, especially by alleviating itchy, flaky red skin and protecting skin from harmful environmental factors.

Cannabis is also a powerful internal healing agent for skin conditions like eczema, acne and dry, itchy skin. Studies have shown that marijuana helps suppress inflammatory responses, which sometimes manifest in these types of skin conditions.

But how do cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) in order to help dry skin heal? And what’s the best way to incorporate marijuana into a healthy skin regimen?


Activate Your Endocannabinoid System to Moisturize From the Inside Out

Our skin needs oils to remain healthy. But as we get older, we produce less collagen—1% less every year starting at age 20—and major oil-producing glands shrink in size. This means we gradually lose the natural capacity to produce as much nourishing oil, or lipids, as our skin needs.

Sebaceous glands—the ones that secrete those oils to hydrate and protect skin—are supported when the ECS is activated. And one way to activate and balance the ECS is by supplementing our natural endocannabinoid production with cannabinoids from the marijuana plant. A National Institutes of Health Study confirms that CB2 cannabinoid receptors are key places for lipid generation and secretion.

Speaking of good oil, cannabis—and the plant’s seeds—is also packed with omega 3s and 6s, other fatty acids and proteins. This triad of nutrients hydrates skin by keeping cell membranes healthy. Cell membranes are important, because they’re responsible for blocking bad compounds from getting in and allowing nourishing compounds into cells.

Marijuana’s Antioxidant Properties Protect the Skin

Antioxidants help:

  • Keep skin healthy
  • Prevent aging
  • Neutralize free radicals

Free radicals are chaotic molecules that wreak havoc throughout the body, but particularly impact skin health. Free radicals are inside us, but they also come in the form of UV rays from the sun. Through its rich antioxidant properties, cannabis can protect the skin from wear and tear caused by the external environment.

Scientists have known for at least 20 years that cannabidiol (CBD) is a more powerful antioxidant than vitamins E and C, while tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) also has antioxidant properties.

In other words, cannabinoids prevent skin from getting chapped and dry in the first place and can also heal parts of the body that have already been affected.

Smoke Harms Skin, So Go for a Cannabis Topical

Even though marijuana has many beneficial aspects, one negative issue remains: Smoke is an irritant. Like tobacco, cannabis smoke irritates and dries out your skin—especially around facial areas—because it decreases the oxygen your skin needs. Smoking cannabis to relieve dry skin can actually lead to dry skin formation (and exacerbate acne).

So if you’re looking for relief from dry, chapped skin, your best bet is a marijuana topical cream or oil that can be applied to the affected areas. You can also use cannabis vaporizers, edibles and tinctures as an additional way to ingest the cannabinoids that are beneficial to skin health.

With marijuana topicals, cannabinoids are absorbed into the top layers of the skin, but aren’t absorbed into the bloodstream. This means they have little to no psychoactive effects and are best used for localized relief on a specific body part. You also want to look for a CBD-rich marijuana topical, because of CBDs anti-inflammatory properties and how it interacts with CB2 receptors, which we know are responsible for lipid production.


Our Favorite Cannabis Topical for Dry Skin

  • Dr. Kerklaan’s Natural Skin Cream: Dr. Kerklaan’s Natural Skin Cream can help reduce skin irritation, inflammation and immune reactions. CBD and THC act together to effectively soothe painful, irritated and inflamed skin. This topical cream targets skin irritations such as burns and rashes, itching and insect bites as well as dermatitis. For those of you with sensitive skin, don’t worry; the cream is formulated to be hypoallergenic, hydrating and fragrance free.

Other Marijuana Products to Help Treat Dry Skin

  • Jetty Extracts Pax Era Pod Cannatonic CBD 17:1: The Cannatonic CBD 17:1 oil is sourced from small farms and handcrafted by Jetty Extracts. Cannatonic is a CBD-rich cannabis strain consumers report is energizing yet calming. The high-CBD content of this vape oil means you can enjoy the therapeutic benefits associated with CBD without psychoactive effects. Another thing to be aware of is that this oil can only be consumed with a PAX Era Vaporizer.
  • Rosette Wellness’ CBDA Tincture: The CBDA Acid-Based Cannabis Tincture is non-high inducing and has a very high antioxidant and terpene content. CBDA is the acid-based compound found in raw cannabis and is the precursor to CBD. This compound has been shown to have antibacterial, anti-nausea, antioxidant and painkilling properties. This tincture is versatile because you can ingest it sublingually (under the tongue), add it to your morning coffee or tea, or apply it topically. Try mixing it with coconut oil or your favorite lotion for a potent DIY topical you can formulate to your liking at home.
  • Care by Design 4:1 CBD-Rich Soft Gel Capsules: These CBD-rich Care by Design capsules are a great choice if you haven’t found the right tincture for you. These easy-to-swallow capsules are made from cleanly extracted, sustainably grown cannabis. They also include refined coconut oil to increase cannabinoid absorption.
  • Level’s Remedy Tablinguals: The Remedy Tablinguals from Level are an innovative way to consume cannabis. The tablingual is designed to dissolve in the mouth for quick and efficient cannabis absorption. This formula is perfect if you’re looking for an anti-inflammatory product to bolster skin health, and the 3 mg dose means you can easily control how much cannabis you consume.

Photo credit: Asaf R

If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 post. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it’s easy, private and 100% online.


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