Cannabis Science

Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?


We already know that marijuana affects our bodies in a variety of ways. Therefore it’s not weird to wonder if it affects our skin. There is research that shows that smoking tobacco has tons of negative effects on the skin including increasing the risk of skin cancer. There is some similarity between tobacco and marijuana in terms of the smoke they produce. Both compounds are known to have their smoke filled with carcinogens. Knowing that fact, people are wondering if weed has an adverse effect on our skin. As a matter of fact, there has been debate about whether or not smoking weed causes acne. Well, does smoking weed cause acne? Here’s what the experts have to say about that.

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Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

According to Healthline, there is no scientific proof that it does. Healthline states, “there’s no concrete proof that marijuana can dry out your skin and perhaps lead to acne”. Even though there is no definitive proof that smoking weed causes acne, weed use may still be linked to acne in two ways. The first way is the food people eat when high. Secondly, some experts think that testosterone production caused by marijuana leads to acne. Others disagree with the testosterone theory.

Why Smoking Weed Could Cause Acne

However, for many stoners using marijuana causes them to have munchies. When people have munchies they tend to eat foods that high in sugar and fat. According to a Forbes article, “America’s cannabis users — are still scarfing down junk food to satisfy the munchies.” You may be wondering what this has to do with acne.

Researchers are also saying high glycemic foods such as pasta, cookies, cake, white flour,  tend to promote acne development. High glycemic foods are basically foods that raise your blood sugar quickly soon after eating them. According to a study, the opposite is true, and low glycemic food seems to anti-acne. 

These tasty snacks cause acne because they increase hormones. NPR states, “Researchers say foods that spike blood sugar can also increase hormones. The hormones can stimulate oil production, which in turn, can trigger acne.”

With that said, it seems like the food stoners are eating may be what is causing the acne.

Why Smoking Weed Could Cause Acne

On the other hand, some experts do think that compounds in the weed itself are causing acne. Dr. Ariel Ostad, a dermatologist who spoke to HuffPost, says that there is an immediate spike in testosterone when you use weed, which leads to acne. The article says, “As a result, these increased testosterone levels can cause your skin’s oil glands to produce more sebum oil, which can lead to breakouts in people predisposed to acne.”

Dr. Bobby Buka, another dermatologist who was featured in Huff Post doesn’t believe that enough testosterone is released to cause acne. He said believes that the 3%-5% is just too small to cause an acne flareup. 

Is Weed Good For Skin?

Weed has tons of benefits and research shows some of the benefits extend to the skin. Healthline noted that there are claims that marijuana can prevent acne by limiting sebum. There also claims that it exacerbates skin conditions such as psoriasis. However, Healthline says these claims aren’t based on scientific studies.  

According to a study, the smoke of tobacco and the smoke of marijuana are not equally carcinogenic. Yes, they both have carcinogens but compounds in marijuana have been shown to kill several cancer types such as skin cancer. 

Marijuana Products and Skin

After analyzing preclinical data, a study concludes that cannabinoid products could actually help certain skin conditions. The study cited acne vulgaris, allergic contact dermatitis, asteatotic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and other skin conditions that could be helped by marijuana products. 

The study says, “Cannabinoids have shown some initial promise as therapy for a variety of skin diseases. However, there is a requirement for thorough pre-clinical research and large-scale, randomized, controlled trials before cannabinoids can be considered safe and effective treatments for these conditions.”

According to National Eczema Association, atopic dermatitis relief was seen with topical cannabinoids. Sixty percent of participants in a study reported that the cream improved the severity of itch and loss of sleep. The article continues by saying, “Twenty percent of subjects were able to stop their topical immunomodulators, 38 percent ceased using their oral antihistamines, and 33.6 percent no longer felt the need to maintain their topical steroid regimen by the end of the study.”

Weed and Eczema  

People seem to be opting for weed creams to treat eczema and the National Eczema Association offers some advice. The organization says that “extra caution should be taken because a variety of known irritants are very prevalent in many “weed creams.” The indiscriminate addition of terpenes that can be irritating are often included in these formulations.”

The organization recommends that people suffering from eczema check that the formulation is for reducing pain, inflammation, and irritation for the skin and not muscle or joint pain. In addition to that, people should check for non-irritating terpenes. 


More research is needed to confirm or deny the claim that smoking weed causes acne. What science does seem to support is that certain foods associated with weed use can cause acne. Therefore if stoners find themselves with acne shortly after a session, it may be worth looking into what they ate around that time. In addition to that, weed could provide some benefits to the skin when applied topically, with more research and regulation people who suffer from skin conditions could get relief. At this point, we can only hope that research will tell us more.


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].