Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?

Kristin Hall

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 7/28/2021

Could your occasional toke be causing you to break out? As of right now, the link between marijuana and the skin is still being researched. 

Let’s explore what scientists have discovered thus far and if smoking weed can cause acne.

Current research indicates that smoking weed does not cause acne. However, there are other factors at play that could be contributing to your skin’s health. 

It has been well-established that smoking tobacco damages skin and causes premature aging. The same cannot be said for certain about smoking marijuana. 

While cannabis isn’t technically considered carcinogenic, smoke — both from tobacco and potentially cannabis — does contain active carcinogens.

One preliminary study suggests that cannabis may be good for the skin. The study indicated that cannabis may have the potential to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne vulgaris, pruritus, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, skin cancer, hidradenitis suppurativa, Kaposi sarcoma, psoriasis and the developing of systemic sclerosis on the skin. 

However, more clinical trials are needed to confirm this hypothesis, including the method of application (topical vs. inhaled).

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Weed and Your Hormones

Smoking marijuana can also have an impact on your body’s hormone levels. One study found that smoking weed increased the concentrations of some appetitive and metabolic hormones, primarily insulin. 

Another study in Denmark geared toward estimating marijuana’s effect on male testosterone reported increased testosterone concentrations among male cannabis users.

An increase in testosterone levels in females is linked to acne. While there has been limited research on the connection between cannabis-induced testosterone levels in women, we can extrapolate these findings and understand how a connection between weed and acne might form. 

Other Factors to Consider

In addition to the above, here are some other factors to consider when it comes to the link between weed and your skin.

The Munchies

Smoking weed can cause an increase in hunger, known as “the munchies.” And, when we’re high, healthy food options typically go down the drain in lieu of chips, ice cream and other tasty treats. 

Your diet can influence inflammation throughout the body. One meta-analysis (consisting of 14 observational studies that included a sample of nearly 80,000 people — mainly children, adolescents and young adults — found a link between an increased risk of acne and dairy products. 

Some studies have also linked acne to high-glycemic index diets. This includes foods high in carbohydrates and sugar, such as cookies, cake, ice cream and more. 

Research out there suggests that a high-glycemic diet may actually affect your skin health.

Smoke Exhalation

As we previously mentioned, there may be a link between smoke exhalation and skin damage. 

While more conclusive research has been conducted on the effects of tobacco smoke on the skin, smoke from marijuana may have a similar effect.

Secondhand marijuana exposure impairs blood vessel function. 

Published studies on rats show that a short time window of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke at levels comparable to those found in restaurants that allow cigarette smoking led to substantial impairment of blood vessel function. 

The studies evenly conclude that weed smoke exposure had a bigger (and longer-lasting, by the way) effect on blood vessel function than being exposed to secondhand smoke via tobacco.

While the connection between marijuana smoke and acne still needs more research, these preliminary findings suggest there might be a link.

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The Bottom Line on Weed and Acne

Essentially, the research out there says that smoking weed doesn’t cause acne. 

However, other factors definitely do. Things change in your hormone levels and the foods you eat when you’re stoned (hello, munchies!) and the effects of potentially carcinogenic marijuana smoke may all play detrimental roles in your skin health.

8 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Wang, X., Derakhshandeh, R., Narayan, S., Luu, E., Le, S., Danforth, O. M., Rodriguez, H. J., Sievers, R. E., Schick, S. F., Glantz, S. A., & Springer, M. L. (2018). Brief exposure to marijuana secondhand smoke impairs vascular endothelial function. Circulation, 130(2). Retrieved from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/circ.130.suppl_2.19538
  2. Eagleston, L., Kalani, N. K., Patel, R. R., Flaten, H. K., Dunnick, C. A., & Dellavalle, R. P. (2018). Cannabinoids in dermatology: a scoping review. Dermatology online journal, 24(6), 13030/qt7pn8c0sb. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30142706/
  3. Farokhnia, M., McDiarmid, G. R., Newmeyer, M. N., Munjal, V., Abulseoud, O. A., Huestis, M. A., & Leggio, L. (2020). Effects of oral, smoked, and vaporized cannabis on endocrine pathways related to appetite and metabolism: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, human laboratory study. Transl Psychiatry 10(71). Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32075958/
  4. Thistle, J. E., Graubard, B. I., Braunlin, M., Vesper, H., Trabert, B., Cook, M. B., & McGlynn, K. A. (2017). Marijuana use and serum testosterone concentrations among U.S. males. Andrology, 5(4), 732–738. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28395129/
  5. Ebede, T. L., Arch, E. L., & Berson, D. (2009). Hormonal treatment of acne in women. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 2(12), pp. 16–22. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2923944/
  6. Kirkham T. C. (2009). Cannabinoids and appetite: food craving and food pleasure. International review of psychiatry (Abingdon, England), 21(2), pp. 163–171. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19367510/
  7. Juhl, C. R., Bergholdt, H., Miller, I. M., Jemec, G., Kanters, J. K., & Ellervik, C. (2018). Dairy Intake and Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 78,529 Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. Nutrients, 10(8), pp. 1049. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30096883/
  8. Smith, R. N., Mann, N. J., Braue, A., Mäkeläinen, H., & Varigos, G. A. (2007). A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 86(1), pp. 107–115. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17616769/

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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