Cannabinoid receptors are found all throughout our body, including throughout our skin.
CBD is incredibly anti-inflammatory and soothing (if you want to hear me speak about the role of CBD in trauma recovery, you can listen to my podcast on that here) so it’s no surprise that researchers have found several different cannabinoid receptors in the skin.
Both cannabinoid receptors type 1 and type 2 (CB1 and CB2) are found in all skin, and help regulate everything from our hair growth to our skin’s immune system to it’s oil production. CB1 and CB2 receptors have been found in our keratinocytes, hair follicles, sebeceous glands, on the skin’s nerve fibers (including pain receptors that give rise to pain and itch sensations) and mast cells (which are responsible for our skin’s allergic response.)
When our skin gets dysregulated, and the healthy balance of our skin is disrupted, it can be challenging to restore barrier function and get chronic conditions like allergic dermatitis, acne, eczema, psoriasis and other chronic skin conditions to truly resolve.
Everything from the environmental pollutants our skin is exposed to, to the chemicals in the body care products we put directly on our skin, to climate stressors such as UV radiation or cold whipping winds that can literally freeze and crack our skin, as well as the plethora of pathogens that we come into contact with every single day, all of it can stress out our skin.
With all of these irritants and exposures, no wonder skin conditions can be hard to treat. If you’ve tried everything from topical moisturizers to topical steroids to topical antihistamines to topical antibiotics and you still have eczema, or hives, or rashes, or even resistant acne… you may want to consider adding a topical CBD lotion to your regime.
CBD has been well studied for it’s role in facilitating skin healing, treating acne, reducing itch and even decreasing inflammatory reactions such as eczema. Researchers have found that supporting the endocannabinoid system may help reduce pruritus (itching) associated with chronic skin conditions, as well as decrease inflammation (showing promise for help in treating eczema) as well as decreasing oil production (making it a new avenue to treat acne.).
Many major research articles suggest that application of CBD to the skin improves human skin function while also being incredibly safe and well tolerated. I’ve listed some of the best ones below, if you’d like to dive directly into the medical literature on this:
- Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders
- The antimicrobial potential of cannabidiol
- Topical Administration of Cannabidiol: Influence of Vehicle-Related Aspects on Skin Permeation Process
- The potential role of cannabinoids in dermatology
- Cannabidiol induces antioxidant pathways in keratinocytes
- Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes
- An Observational Study of the Application of a Topical Cannabinoid Gel on Sensitive Dry Skin
- Tolerability profile of topical cannabidiol: evaluator-blinded clinical and in vitro studies in normal skin
- In vitro percutaneous absorption studies of cannabidiol using human skin
- Cannabidiol-Mediated Changes to Keratinocytes from Psoriatic Patients
- The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Acne
- Cannabis sativa and Skin Health: Dissecting the Role of Phytocannabinoids
The purity and potency of the vast majority of CBD products on the market is questionable, so I highly recommend getting your CBD (whether topicals, capsules, gummies or tinctures) through ECS Therapeutics, which requires a physician to order it for you.
These are prescription grade, pharmacy quality CBD oil products that are organically grown right here in the USA and quality tested more thouroghly than any other CBD product I have ever seen. It’s the only one I personally trust and use. You can ask your in person physician for an ECS Therapeutics prescription, or you can fill out my contact form here to request more information on prescription strength CBD products ordered directly through me.
Skin has always been one of my favorite organs of the body to study. I grew up in a family that has been researching/discussing skin ever since I can remember… My father, Dr. Vincent Hearing, literally wrote the bible on pigmentation and melanoma — a textbook that is still being used to this day. As a head scientist at the National Institutes of Health, my dad literally paved the way for melanoma research, discovering pathways and enzymatic reactions that they didn’t even know existed when he entered the field of melanoma research, which have now given rise to melanoma drugs that are currently being tested in clinical trials based on the enzyme pathways that he discovered.
So growing up, I traveled all around the world with my family to attend scientific lectures on skin cancer with my father as the speaker of honor. At one point, I considered going into Dermatology myself, so in med school I took three times the regular amount of training in Dermatology, because that was my focus of interest (and it was so much fun too!)
All in all I can tell you this: we want to take really good care of our skin and preserve our skin barrier function. Adding a topical CBD lotion to your skin treatment plan can support skin function in an entirely different way than you’ve ever tried before. So if your acne topicals, or ezema ointments, or antihistamine lotions, or any other topical skin care products you have tried have failed to help resolve your chronic skin issue, I highly recommend giving CBD products a chance to get your skin into it’s best shape ever.
Now is the time to do it, before the cold, raw temperatures outside and the super dried-out, heated air on the inside makes your skin condition worse. Because any skin that has a compromise in the skin barrier function needs the ultimate TLC above and beyond regular skin care needs. This is especially important in the winter, as any crack in the barrier of our skin can invite inflammation, lead to infection, and even lead to scarring.
To make it through fall and winter with the best skin possible, I recommend these 10 all natural, holistic skin care steps, in addition to any skin care steps your physician or dermatologist recommends to treat your unique skin issues.
My 10 Favorite Winter Skin Care Tips:
1. Use CBD topicals on any trouble spots:
Like I discuss above, our skin has cannabinoid respecters throughout it, including receptors on hair follicles, on our oil glands, on our keratinocytes, and throughout the dermis and epidermis where things like our nerve endings and our immune cells live. So for acne, chronic rashes, hives, eczema patches, psoriatic lesions, and other difficult to treat skin conditions, add topical CBD to your regime. Supporting skin in an entirely new way, for better results. As I mentioned above, ECS Therapeutics are the only CBD products that I personally trust and use. You can ask your in person physician for an ECS Therapeutics prescription, or you can fill out my contact form here to request more information on prescription strength CBD products ordered directly through me.
2. Exfoliate with baking soda or dry brush your skin:
Many of us stop exfoliating in winter as our skin isn’t on show as much. But giving your skin a quick daily or even just a weekly exfoliation will sweep away dead skin cells and allow your skin to better absorb your moisturizer afterwards as well as decreasing the layer of dead keratinocytes on top, which can help decrease the likelihood of your skin cracking.
To exfoliate, simply make a paste by mixing baking soda and a little water in the palm of your hand and us it to gently scrub your skin to remove dead skin cells, or alternatively you can dry brush your skin using a natural bristled brush before stepping in the shower or bath, or an all natural hemp exfoliation mit while in the shower (this is the one I use.)
3. Soak in honey:
Add a half cup of honey to your bath water to nourish your skin and speed the healing of any winter whipped irritations. Honey is all natural, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, accelerates wound healing and decreases the risk of scarring…. making it the perfect skin supportive, holistic bath soak!
And use warm, not hot water when you bathe. Even though it is tempting to blast hot water in the shower to warm up, the extra heat strips the skin of its oils more quickly. Keep the bath or shower warm, not hot, stay in the water for less time, and decrease the frequency of your bathing in the winter months.
4. Slather on coconut oil to seal in moisture after bathing:
Use a beautiful, all natural, super healing organic oil directly on skin — such as coconut oil or sunflower seed oil (these are my two favs because they are both medically shown to repair the lipid bilayer best.) Oil seals in moisture better than a lotion or cream which both are water based and will not provide a skin barrier the way a pure oil will. You want to apply an oil on top of skin that is already hydrated, so it’s perfect to use right after bathing, or on top of a water based moisturizer that you apply first.
5. Protect your nasal mucosa with a humidifier + apply coconut oil to the interior rim of your nose:
Humidifying room air and keeping well-hydrated internally by drinking water copiously will prevent the tendency to develop chapped tight skin and dry, uncomfortable nasal passages. If you only have one humidifier, place it in your bedroom so that you can sleep in a moisturized environment at night. You can also apply a little coconut oil just inside the nasal openings to help protect your nasal mucosa from drying out!
6. Make organic coconut oil lip balm to use throughout the day:
It’s so easy to whip up your own homemade lip protection, it takes less then one minute and you can even use it as an intensive hand and foot salve.
Simply melt 2 parts coconut oil with one part beeswax (for example, 2 TBSP coconut oil and 1 TBSP beeswax) in a microwave or over a double broiler. Stir and add a few drops of Vit E (I simply snip the end off of a capsule of Vit E and squeeze it right in) and stir again. You can add a drop or two of honey for sweetness (and honey is incredibly skin supportive as a topical treatment for wound healing) and pour the mixture into a clean, recycled container or small jar. Empty skincare jars or mint tins work well.
Use liberally to protect your lips and save them from winter dryness!
7. Moisturize skin from within:
If you are not internally hydrating your body, there is no amount of external moisturizer you can put on your skin that will effectively hydrate it. So all winter long, drink lots of pure, filtered water all day, every day.
Even though it’s so much easier to remember to stay hydrated in the summer when we are hot and sweating, please don’t ignore your hydration status in the winter when it is every bit as crucial, if not more so. Dry skin is dehydrated skin.
You can also support your skin by eating foods rich in healthy fats that supply your skin with the essential vital nutrients it needs to maintain its crucial lipid bilayer. Take care to consume foods such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, fish, flaxseed and kelp all winter long.
8. Take high quality Omega 3 supplements daily:
Drinking water and eating healthy fats in the winter may not be enough to maintain a healthy skin lipid bilayer, especially if you are prone to dry skin, psoriasis or eczema. I highly recommend taking a high quality Omega 3 supplement daily (for so many reasons, from preserving brain volume to decreasing ADHD symptoms to supporting heart health to keeping your skin supple.)
Find all of my very favorite Omega 3 supplements in my online dispensary right here.
9. Get extra sleep:
Take advantage of the longer nights, the soft indirect lighting of winter and the natural urge to hibernate more to repair your sleep deficit and stock up on restorative beauty sleep. This decreases the stress on your body from the inside and out, allows your skin to repair more easily, giving your complexion a natural boost! If you’d like to hear me talk more about why sleep actually does improve your skin’s appearance, you can hop over here to listen to my podcast on Beauty Sleep.
10. Re-evaluate your boundaries:
Your skin is always speaking to you.
Skin can speak subtly through chronic messages that it whispers to you your entire life… or skin can scream loudly and angrily during acute transitions and times of crisis.
Because our skin replicates so quickly, it is a wonderful mirror for what is going on with the rest of our body and mind:
- If we are anemic, it shows us quickly.
- If we are dehydrated, it shows us quickly.
- If we are malnourished, our skin will lack that robust glow that healthy skin gives.
- If we have been neglecting our selves in other ways, our skin will reveal us.
- If we are unhappy, our skin literally sags.
- If we have lost connection with joy, our skin tells it.
- If we feel ugly, our skin mirrors that.
And because it covers our entire body, every thought we think and every word we say and every intention we ever have passes through our skin on its way to communicate with the outside world.
So it doesn’t just protect us from the world… quite the opposite is true too: it translates our inner being to the surface. It shows the world what is going on inside of us.
It is constantly in contact with and intimate with our inner workings. Because of this, skin reflects how we feel about ourselves. Skin forms our barrier, our identity. It forms what we perceive as *us* and delineates *us* from *the rest of the world*.
In short, skin represents our personal boundary.
And every winter… during the darkest, coldest months, we get an invitation to go inward re-evaluate our boundaries before we emerge this coming spring fresh and new.
Grab a journal or get into an open meditative mindframe and ask yourself:
- Are you grinning and bearing something that you’d secretly like to say a firm no to?
- Are you letting someone in your energy space that constantly irritates or drains you?
- Do you need to set some healthy boundaries at work?
- Do you need to set clearer boundaries around your time? We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but if you are doing activities you don’t feel aligned with or tending to emotional needs of others constantly, you will find much of that time will disappear and you won’t even know where it all went.
- Do you have a friendship that needs some boundaries clarified and strengthened?
- Do you have a family member that you need to create firmer boundaries and consequences of boundary violations with?
- Do you need more personal space when you are home? Do you have a place where it’s clear to everyone sharing your home that they are not to disturb you?
- Do you need to set boundaries in your sexual relationships?
Double-check that you say no when you need to and have clear boundaries that allow you to do what you truly want to do and enjoy that without guilt.
If you find your skin is stressed out, ask yourself what boundaries need to be strengthened in your life and meanwhile give your skin a little TLC with the other 9 steps listed above and watch the energy shift and your skin improve dramatically.
To your beautiful, radiant, ever repairing body boundary… your skin!
xoxox, Laura Koniver MD
P.S. Want another free resource?
Download my Free Skin Happiness eBook right here for tons more of my favorite holistic skin care tips.