CBD and EPA cream: Dynamic duo for youthful skin

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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 anti-aging gel containing EPA and CBD. Image Credit: j.chizhe / Shutterstock.com Study: In vitro, ex vivo, and clinical evaluation of anti-aging 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 nutrition. Notably, certain dermo-cosmetics formulations have preventive, lowering, or even reversing effects against skin aging.

Aging is associated with physiological changes, such as the breakdown of elastin and collagen, local inflammation, and induction of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). These changes cause clinical signs of aging, including peri-ocular wrinkling, pigmentation, skin inflammation, fine lines and wrinkles, and reduced skin elasticity and hydration.

CBD and cannabinoids are non-psychotropic components of Cannabis sativa with several cosmetic benefits. In fact, the application of 1% CBD for 14 days was seen to enhance skin moisture in HR-1 hairless mice through aquaporin-3 upregulation.

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

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

An in vitro study has also shown that EPA decreases UV-induced interleukin 8 (IL-8) secretion in the 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 through in vitro, ex vivo, and clinical experiments.

A standard photoaging model was used to assess UVB-induced damage. To this end, HaCaT keratinocytes cells were stimulated with UVB, following which IL-8 and PGE2 were estimated, as both IL-8 and PGE2 have a crucial role in UVB-induced inflammation.

Consistent with previous reports, a potent anti-inflammatory property of CBD was observed. The researchers found that EPA supplementation enhanced the effects of CBD and elevated inhibitory potential.

Previous studies using ex vivo human skin culture revealed its effective emulation of intact tissue, thereby demonstrating the utility of this model in studying dermo-cosmetic applications. In the current study, human skin samples obtained following surgery were used to assess the impact of the CBD and EPA formulation on skin structure and function. Notably, the anti-inflammatory effects observed in the in vitro experiments were validated using this ex vivo human skin culture. 

The combination of CBD- and EPA-based topical formulation restored tissue viability, which was almost comparable to naïve or non-UV irradiated tissues. Treated tissues also exhibited reduced cytokine levels, significant enhancement in the extracellular matrix (ECM), and restoration of skin morphology to normal architecture. 

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

To this end, a gradual time-dependent improvement in wrinkles, with significant improvements observed in the wrinkle lines and volumes next to the lateral epicanthal folds. Moreover, a substantial improvement in Sub-Epidermal Low echogenic band (SLEB) was observed after 56 days of the treatmentThe VISIA-CR evaluation demonstrated a 15% reduction in wrinkles after 56 days of treatment.

The efficacy of the CBD and EPA cream on skin elasticity, firmness, and hydration was also assessed, all significantly improving following treatment. A time-dependent improvement in skin hydration, firmness, and elasticity was found, along with a reduction in red spots. Thus, the long-term application of this newly formulated gel significantly improves skin aging.

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


The newly developed cosmetic cream comprising both CBD and EPA significantly reduced age-related skin manifestations. Although these findings confirm the beneficial effects of this skin formulation through in vitroex vivo, and clinical studies, additional studies are needed to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for these skin improvements.

Conflict of Interest Statement

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

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

Written by

Dr. Priyom Bose

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.


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