Here's What Marijuana Does to Your Skin

September 6th 2015

We've told you before about marijuana's effect on lungs, bones, cancer cells, breast cancer, metabolism, and sex drive. But what about how you look?

It's been well-documented that cigarette smoking has decidedly negative side effects on your appearance, but should cannabis be looped into the same category? As it turns out, it depends on how you use it and how your body responds. 

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How it can help your skin.

In interviews conducted by the Huffington Post two years ago, two New York-based dermatologists, Dr. Bobby Buka and Dr. Ariel Ostad said that while some marijuana use can have potentially negative side effects on skin health, certain forms of use could prove beneficial. 

The science isn't exact, but Buka and Ostad pointed to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of marijuana and its main active compound, THC, in their discussion of the benefits for skin health. HuffPo notes that antioxidants found in THC have been linked to blocking harmful oxygen particles that can cause aging, even likening moderate cannabis use to drinking a glass of red wine. Other research examining the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana has found credible links between the effectiveness of both topical and yet-to-be-determined treatment options for inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea—though it depends on the user, of course. 

Last year, Elle magazine even vetted THC's effectiveness in face masks. "We concocted a cannabis facial that gave our own tired, dry skin a new lease on life," the magazine wrote.

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The downside.

There are negative side effects for skin health that can result from marijuana use. THC in excessive quantities, Ostad warns, also tends to immediately increase testosterone levels 3 to 5 percent, potentially resulting in increased sebum oil production from the skin's oil glands. Those oils can lead to acne breakouts, especially for those already prone to acne. 

One thing that is clear, however, is that the drug's effect on a user's skin is influenced most by the method by which it is ingested or applied. "The delivery system is really critical," Buka told HuffPo. Critically, Buka said that there is no real distinguishing factors between marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke when it comes to skin, and both can derail collagen production, leading to accelerated aging, and potentially irritating skin diseases like psoriasis and rosacea. To avoid the harmful effects of smoke, he recommended using methods that don't involve smoke: more technically advanced methods like dabbing, vaporizing, and even water pipes, are less damaging.

(h/t Huffington Post)

For more on the positive effects of marijuana, check out this ATTN: video:

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