Marijuana and Your Skin: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
With the popularity of marijuana, both for medicinal and recreational use, it is easy to assume that smoking likely brings more good than harm. However, the exact balance between the good and the bad of using marijuana will depend on multiple factors, including the category of benefits or side effects that you are interested in. Skin health is no exception, with research indicating the potential of both good and bad effects that cannabis can have on your skin.
Smoking Marijuana Vs. Cigarettes
A good starting point when discussing the effects of marijuana on your skin is how it compares to cigarettes. After all, cigarette smoking is commonly compared, and it is known to be harmful to your skin. Even though marijuana is different from cigarettes, this is not all good news. Both tobacco and marijuana produce thousands of chemicals when you smoke them, many of which are similar. Thirty-three of the chemicals in marijuana have been connected to cancer. Compared to tobacco, marijuana can bring as much as four times as much tar to the lungs. Additionally, marijuana can dilate blood vessels and increase your blood flow, which leads to bloodshot eyes. However, before this happens, it constricts the blood vessels, so your skin does not get enough oxygen. This is a similar process to what happens when you smoke tobacco cigarettes, and it is known to increase the rate of skin aging.
Hydrocarbons and Collagen
Another thing to consider is that marijuana smoke has a high level of hydrocarbons. When hydrocarbons contact your skin, they can hurt collagen production. This is harmful since collagen is responsible for structural strength that fights inflammation and air pollution. Unfortunately, damage to your collagen can result in premature skin aging due to a loss of elasticity and wrinkles.
Marijuana and Acne
If you are concerned about marijuana and acne, then you will be reassured on this front. There is no evidence showing that smoking will lead to acne flare-ups. The common assumption that there is a connection between the two is due to the munchies that you get when you smoke. Many people find themselves craving empty carbohydrates after they smoke, and it is those carbs that can contribute to breakouts. This connection exists between all high-glycemic foods with acne. This means that as long as you avoid munching on high-glycemic foods during your high or after it, you should not be concerned. That being said, you should keep in mind that anytime your skin is exposed to smoke, existing acne can get worse due to irritation.
CBD and Acne
Even better news in this respect comes from CBD, which is one of the natural substances called cannabinoids that occur in marijuana. CBD is increasingly connected to a range of potential benefits, including the ability to fight acne. Some early research and anecdotal evidence indicate that using CBD can decrease sebum production and inflammation, both of which lead to acne.
Marijuana and Other Skin Conditions
Smoke of any type has been linked to worsening rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. The good news is that this is just the smoke. Early research indicates that marijuana, or at least some of its components, may be beneficial in treating these skin conditions, all of which are inflammatory in nature. A fair amount of that research goes back to CBD and other cannabinoids. In psoriasis, for example, skin cells grow rapidly, and one study indicates that cannabis may actively slow the growth of immature cells. Other skin conditions, such as eczema, are commonly triggered by allergies. Some research indicates cannabis may help regulate your immune system, which would reduce skin inflammation and allergic response. There is also some new research indicating that topical applications of CBD, and potentially other cannabinoids, can help with chronic skin conditions.
Smoke Is the Concern
One of the biggest concerns for your skin, when you smoke marijuana or even spend time with someone smoking it, is the damage that the smoke itself can cause. Remember that smoke can cause damage to the blood vessels, which results in depriving your skin of oxygen. Some recent research from the American Heart Association indicates that secondhand smoke from marijuana may be worse for your blood vessels than smoke from tobacco. This was based on a research in rats that found that secondhand marijuana smoke resulted in the blood vessels moving blood less efficiently for more time. Anytime the blood is prevented from reaching the skin cells, the skin will age more quickly.
The Action May Also Be Relevant
Another strong consideration of how smoking marijuana affects your skin is the repetitive action associated with it. Some experts say that this repetitive action of crinkling your mouth contributes to the lines and creases. It is the same idea as the fact that if you furrow your brow consistently, you will develop wrinkles and lines. To some extent, you can reduce this by doing your best not to purse your lips while smoking, but there will likely still be lines forming.
Cannabis and Dehydration
One important thing to consider is that smoking cannabis can be dehydrating, especially for your mouth and eyes. Dehydration is known to cause skin problems, but you can easily overcome this by just drinking more water.
Other Ways to Enjoy Marijuana
When it comes down to it, the main issue for your skin with smoking marijuana is the smoke itself. The smoke can affect your blood vessels, and it is the smoke that releases those known carcinogens. You can avoid these effects by choosing a different method of consuming marijuana. Alternative options include edibles, concentrates, and CBD oils, although the last one only features some of the substances in marijuana, not all of them.
The smoke from marijuana can be slightly harmful to your skin, affecting your blood vessels and exposing you to carcinogens. That being said, there is also promise for cannabis, especially some of its compounds like CBD, in treating various skin conditions. If you are concerned about your skin health and want to use marijuana, consider another method, such as concentrates or edibles.