Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

Marijuana And Your Skin

Life can be stressful and, sometimes, smoking weed is all you need to destress. If you’re one of the 44% of Americans that have tried weed, then you’ll know that firsthand.

Unfortunately, aside from the relaxation it can give, smoking weed has also been linked to zits. You may have noticed your skin breaking out shortly after a bong session.

Because of these unexpected blemishes, you’re probably wondering: does smoking weed cause acne?

What Exactly Is In Weed?

Before we jump into the connection between weed and your skin, let’s break down what exactly weed is made of. Perhaps you’ve never given it much thought as you roll up but, trust me, the following information are essential if you really want to know if weed does cause acne.

Basically, weed is grown from a cannabis plant. No surprise there, right?

The Cannabis plant has three species: Cannabis Sativa; Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Ruderalis.

Scientists have identified at least 483 types of compounds in weed but not all of them have been thoroughly investigated. Among these compounds, let’s focus on three:

THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol

Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

This is probably the compound that’s easily recognized if you’re familiar with weed. THC is created when weed is dried and heated.

It binds to the receptors in your central nervous and immune system to make you feel relaxed.

THCA or Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid

Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

This is basically THC before it is heated or dried. It’s a non-psychoactive cannabinoid you’d find in raw weed.

It has anti-inflammatory properties that can even address cases of lupus

CBD or Cannabidiol

Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

This compound of marijuana is reported to have anti-nausea, anti-psychotic, and anti-anxiety properties to name a few.

For the skin, CBD is considered good to use against acne. Its oil, on the other hand, offers a lot of skin benefits, including anti-inflammatory and moisturizing effects.

But How Does Smoking Weed Cause Pimples?

THC and Testosterone

Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

One of the connections between smoking weed and acne involves the chemicals THC and the hormone testosterone.

In some studies, THC has been shown to reduce testosterone levels in men, which can cause a rapid decrease in sexual function.

However, other studies have suggested that THC (the active ingredient in marijuana that gets you high), can have reversed effects.

THC, as mentioned, is the main reason why you get that high feeling from weed. Testosterone, on the other hand, is a male hormone you’d find in both men and women.

When you smoke weed, THC boosts your testosterone levels, triggering your skin to produce excess sebum. This excess oil clogs your pores and makes your skin breakout.

The increase in testosterone is immediate which is why you may see breakouts relatively quickly after you smoke weed.


Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

Your skin’s exposure to smoke is another reason why you experience acne after smoking weed. Although it may not be a definite cause of acne, it can aggravate any existing zits you have.

When you exhale marijuana smoke and your skin absorbs it, it actually slows down the production of collagen. This is due to a chemical compound called hydrocarbons.

Hydrocarbons consist of carbon and hydrogen. As these chemicals penetrate and accumulate in the skin, irritation happens.

Collagen is a vital part of the skin’s structure, and it is responsible for making your skin supple and elastic. It also aids in the repair of your skin.

But with low levels of collagen, cuts heal slower and popped zits can take longer to heal. Because of this, you can expect your scarring to be more severe.

Nutritional Deficiency

Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

Smoking weed can deplete the body of the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep your skin in top shape.

For one, smoking has been tied to vitamin D deficiency, which is actually an essential part of getting clear and blemish-free skin.

Without enough vitamin D, you aren’t only predisposed to acne but you’re also at risk of several other skin issues like psoriasis and premature skin aging.

Suppressed Immune System

Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

Immune suppression frequently happens to those people who smoke weed due to its cannabinoid content.

As you smoke weed, it triggers the release of myeloid-derived suppressor cells or MDSC. These cells, as they are named, can suppress the immune system.

With lower immunity, your body will find it hard to fight off bacteria that can negatively impact your skin. As more bacteria proliferate both inside your body and on the surface of your skin, acne happens.


Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

Craving is really not a direct cause of smoking weed, but more like a side effect. The reason for this tremendous increase in your appetite is the THC in your weed.

THC triggers the olfactory bulb in your brain to make food smell and taste better. The increased salaciousness combined with the boost in appetite may leave you wanting sugary and fatty food- exactly the things you should avoid if you want clear skin.

If you combine these types of food with a suppressed immune system and reduced collagen, you’ll probably stop wondering how easy weed can be linked with zits.

To Smoke Or Not To Smoke

It turns out that the cause of acne is not necessarily the weed itself, but the delivery. Actually, any form of smoking is bad for the skin for obvious reasons.

Smoking can make your skin dry. It can also hasten the aging process.

In addition to those things, smoking can further irritate existing skin conditions, including psoriasis and rosacea.

Instead of smoking weed, you can either ingest it or apply it on your skin. After all, THC is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that can help you deal with your zits.

Newer trends even consider turning weed into a face cream- but its proposed benefits are actually still under investigation.

How to Protect Your Skin While Smoking Weed

If you still want to continue smoking weed after hearing all the bad things it can do to your skin, then do so. But make sure you follow these tips to ensure your skin stays healthy and beautiful while you toke.

Stay hydrated

Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

This one cannot be stressed enough. Every time you inhale smoke, it is sucking a bit of moisture from your body so you need to replenish it diligently.

Make sure you are drinking enough water to meet your daily requirement. Avoid carbonated drinks and alcohol to ensure you’re properly hydrated.

Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

Use a good moisturizer for your skin and slather on some extra after a mary jane session. Also, try to keep the smoke as far from your face as possible.

Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

Now that you know how smoking weed can compromise your immune system and deplete your vitamin levels, make sure you take proactive steps for your nutrition.

Find a good supplement that can deliver the right amount of vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy. You should also adapt a healthier diet to make up for the lost nutrients.

Probiotics are also very helpful in improving your immune system function as well as vitamin D. If you’re unable to find a good probiotic, yogurt will actually have the exact same benefit when consumed on a daily basis.

Healthy Munchies

I know this one is stretching it and I can almost see your eyes rolling to the back of your head. Hear me out.

Smoking weed increases your appetite, and that good old olfactory part of the brain makes everything look and smell tastier right? So, why not fill your pantry with the healthy stuff?

Load up with fruits and vegetables and take off any greasy and fatty foods out of your kitchen. You can also try to dispose those bar of chocolates you persistently keep inside your fridge.

If you can’t force yourself to make a salad or eat one after, then try incorporating healthier foods into your diet when you’re not smoking weed. Use it as an opportunity to reinforce your body with healthy nutrients to offset the sugar and fat intake during the munchies.


Smoking weed can lead to acne in some direct and indirect ways.

If you smoke weed and have seen an increase in acne, it may be worth it to examine the reasons mentioned above and determine if there are any changes you can do to help your skin.

If you can take weed through a different method other than smoking, then go for it. Ingesting it internally or applying it topically offer lesser chances of damaging your skin while making it benefit more from the positive effects of THC.

If an alternate means of consumption is not an option, simply stay hydrated, eat healthy, and supplement your diet with multivitamins. These actions can sound hard at first but, hey, they’re your only ticket to clear skin- well, aside from quitting weed.

Now, to see our complete list of the most common causes of acne, check out this article.

Marijuana And Your Skin: Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

Dr Kathleen May Eusebio-Alpapara

A board-certified dermatologist who practices both medical and cosmetic dermatology

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