CBD and EPA cream: dynamic duo for youthful skin

Several studies have indicated the cosmetic potential of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and cannabidiol (CBD). A recent Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology study developed and examined the anti-aging potential of a new cream formulation that contains CBD and EPA.

Study: In vitro, ex vivo and clinical evaluation of the anti-aging gel containing EPA and CBD.  Image Credit: j.chizhe/Shutterstock.com

Study: In vitro, ex vivo and clinical evaluation of the antiaging gel containing EPA and CBD. Image Credit: j.chizhe/Shutterstock.com


Skin aging is accelerated by several external factors, including pollutants, reactive oxygen species (ROS), ultraviolet (UV) radiation and poor diet. In particular, some dermo-cosmetic formulations have preventive, attenuating or even reversible effects against skin aging.

Aging is associated with physiological changes, such as elastin and collagen breakdown, local inflammation, and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) induction. These changes cause clinical signs of aging, including wrinkles around the eyes, pigmentation, skin inflammation, fine lines and wrinkles, and reduced skin elasticity and hydration.

CBD and cannabinoids are non-psychotropic components of Cannabis sativa with numerous aesthetic advantages. Indeed, the application of 1% CBD for 14 days improved skin hydration in HR-1 hairless mice through the upregulation of aquaporin-3.

CBD also reduced the formation of ROS in a nuclear factor erythroid factor 2 (NRF2)-hemooxygenase-1-dependent manner in keratinocytes. Additionally, CBD has been shown to improve hair growth and treat atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis due to its antipruritic and anti-inflammatory properties.

EPA supplementation can reduce the activity of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and participate in the synthesis of prostaglandin-E2 (PGE2), the latter acting as a proinflammatory mediator in case of injury due to exposure to UV rays.

A in vitro study also demonstrated that EPA reduces UV-induced interleukin 8 (IL-8) secretion in HaCaT keratinocyte cell line. Furthermore, oral supplementation with EPA for 10 weeks significantly reduced the formation of proinflammatory lipids after UVB exposure in healthy volunteers.

About the study

The current study investigated the synergistic effect of CBD and EPA on skin aging in vitro, ex vivoand clinical trials.

A standard photoaging model was used to evaluate UVB-induced damage. To this end, HaCaT keratinocyte cells were stimulated with UVB, after which IL-8 and PGE2 were estimated, as both IL-8 and PGE2 have crucial roles in UVB-induced inflammation.

Consistent with previous reports, a potent anti-inflammatory property of CBD has been observed. Researchers found that supplementing with EPA enhanced the effects of CBD and increased the inhibitory potential.

Previous studies using ex vivo human skin culture revealed its effective emulation of intact tissue, thus demonstrating the utility of this model in the study of dermo-cosmetic applications. In the present study, human skin samples obtained after surgery were used to evaluate the impact of CBD and EPA formulation on skin structure and function. In particular, the anti-inflammatory effects observed in the in vitro experiments have been validated using this ex vivo human skin culture.

The combination of the CBD and EPA topical formulation restored tissue viability, which was nearly comparable to naïve or non-UV irradiated tissue. The treated tissues also showed reduced levels of cytokines, a significant improvement in the extracellular matrix (ECM), and the restoration of the normal architecture of the skin morphology.

Based on the favorable in vitro AND ex vivo Experimental results, the clinical evaluation of the cream containing CBD and EPA was conducted on 33 healthy individuals with age-related signs. In this case, the anti-aging gel was applied to the face or other problem areas, with various skin parameters assessed before and after the treatment.

To this end, a gradual time-dependent improvement in wrinkles, with significant improvements observed in wrinkle lines and volumes alongside the lateral epicanthal folds. In addition, a substantial improvement in the low subepidermal echogenic band (SLEB) was observed after 56 days of treatment.. The VISIA-CR evaluation demonstrated a 15% reduction in wrinkles after 56 days of treatment.

The effectiveness of the CBD and EPA cream on skin elasticity, firmness and hydration was also evaluated, all of which improved significantly after the treatment. A time-dependent improvement in skin hydration, firmness and elasticity was seen, along with a reduction in red spots. Thus, long-term application of this newly formulated gel significantly improves skin aging.

Based on the questionnaire responses, most of the participants expressed their satisfaction with the product.


The newly developed cosmetic cream including both CBD and EPA significantly reduced age-related skin manifestations. Although these results confirm the beneficial effects of this formulation across the skin in vitro, ex vivoand clinical trials, more studies are needed to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for these skin improvements.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The author, Dr. Rozenblat, discloses a conflict of interest as a consultant for Eco Pharmaceuticals. Although the company sponsored the manuscript, it had no control over the direction of the research, data acquisition, or conclusions drawn.

Magazine reference:

  • Cohen, G., Jakus, J., Portillo, M., et al. (2023) In vitro, ex vivo and clinical evaluation of antiaging gel containing EPA and CBD. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. doi:10.1111/jocd.15815

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