Marijuana Might Be Affecting Your Skin... And Not In The Ways You Thought

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<ul><li><p>Marijuana Might Be Affecting Your Skin... And Not In TheWays You Thought</p><p>Weed, grass, Mary Jane, pot... call it whatever you'd like, but marijuana has been around long before1937's "Reefer Madness" warned of its (arguably overblown) deleterious effects. These days it'smore common than ever, thanks in part to its medicinal uses. But are there beauty ramifications thatcome with the decision to smoke?</p><p>We decided to find out. Whether or not lighting up is your thing, it doesn't hurt to know exactly whatmarijuana can do to your skin and appearance. So we spoke to two New York-based dermatologists,Dr. Bobby Buka and Dr. Ariel Ostad, and found out some surprising facts about America's mostcommonly used illicit drug.</p><p>The THC in marijuana increases your testosterone levels... which could lead to acne.</p><p>Let's start with the bad news. The most potent ingredient in cannabis, also known as marijuana, istetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When you smoke, vaporize or otherwise ingest it, there's an immediateincrease in testosterone levels, says Dr. Ostad. As a result, these increased testosterone levels cancause your skin's oil glands to produce more sebum oil, which can lead to breakouts in peoplepredisposed to acne. People who are chronic users of marijuana can also experience hair loss on thescalp or even excess hair growth in other parts of their bodies due to this testosterone jump, Dr.Ostad adds. "I have seen acne and hair loss," he says, "not a lot, but I've seen it."</p><p>However, Dr. Buka says that the testosterone increase -- which is in the order of 3 to 5 percent -- istoo marginal to cause a flare up of acne or unusual hair growth patterns. "We're talking aboutbuckets and buckets of weed," he says. "Nothing any human could smoke." (We'll leave thatjudgement call to you.)</p><p>Another thing to watch out for? Packing in sugar-filled snacks while using marijuana. "There is a linkbetween high-glycemic index foods and acne," he says. "So you might draw the conclusion thatpeople who get the munchies are eating more of those foods."</p><p>Plus, the smoke can make your skin age more rapidly.</p></li><li><p>Something both Dr. Ostad and Dr. Buka do agree on? The harmful effects of the marijuana smokeitself, which contains many of the same carcinogens as cigarette smoke (though studies have shownthat THC actually protects against pro-carcinogens, unlike nicotine). These hydrocarbons can inhibitcells that are chiefly responsible for making new collagen. Meaning: Exposing your skin to marijuanasmoke can make it age more rapidly. The smoke from pot can also worsen skin conditions likepsoriasis and rosacea, says Dr. Buka.</p><p>But THC is also anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, and it has potential anti-aging properties.</p><p>Don't make a judgement call just yet -- more and more, people are discovering the upside of gettinghigh. Even though THC may cause an increase in testosterone levels, it's also gaining a reputation asan anti-inflammatory agent and an antioxidant in the medical world. So while the actual smoke frommarijuana can suppress collagen production, some studies have shown that the THC itself has anti-aging properties (thanks to those antioxidants, which neutralize the damaging effects of free radicaloxygen particles). Dr. Buka even likens moderate weed consumption with drinking a glass of redwine.</p><p>However, Dr. Buka notes, "The delivery system is really critical." He recommends using a vaporizerif you're dead-set on using marijuana and want to enjoy its supposed anti-inflammatory benefits,adding, "Even a bong would be preferable [to smoking]." (Remember: There is no fundamentaldifference between marijuana smoke and cigarette smoke when it comes to skin, according to Dr.Buka.)</p><p>Additionally, Dr. Ostad points out that we naturally have THC receptors in our brains, which meansthat cannabinoids, the compounds present in cannabis, aren't foreign to our systems. "Those THCreceptors actually can lead to increased production of neurotransmitters that make us feel better,like serotonin," he says. Indeed, neuroscientists who have looked into the connection betweencannabis and depression have found that low doses of THC are associated with a drop in depressivesymptoms. But it's important to note that too much can actually have the opposite effect.</p><p>Dr. Buka adds that stress seems to have negative effects on skin conditions across the board --including acne, eczema and rosacea -- and reducing that stress can be a critical step to clearing upskin. "My pot smokers are by and large a mellower group of patients," he says.</p><p>Studies have also shown that cannabinoids can be used topically for the treatment of inflammatoryskin diseases (though these studies have been done in mice, not people).</p></li><li><p>So if you're going to smoke...</p><p>If after weighing the pros and cons, you decide you'd like to reap the benefits of marijuana, chooseyour method wisely. Like we said, Dr. Buka recommends using a vaporizer to avoid the carcinogenicsmoke of a marijuana cigarette. However, if you must smoke it, he suggests making sure your skin isprotected as much as possible with a thick moisturizer (he likes the Ultra Repair Cream by First AidBeauty).</p><p>The bottom line: There are mixed philosophies when it comes to both the positive and negativeeffects of marijuana on the skin, so choose wisely -- and be mindful of your local laws.</p><p>Stay informed:</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: alana sise</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: Bill Ward's Brickpile</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: gerbache</p><p>Also legalized possession by non-medical users. Flickr: dok1</p><p>Legalized for medical use.</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: ~MVI~ (off to coron)</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: Doug Kerr</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: Ricymar Fine Art Photography</p><p>Legalized for medical use.</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: indywriter</p><p>Legalized for medical use.</p><p>Passed ballot initiative for legalized medical marijuana in 2012.</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: ckay</p></li><li><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: csbarnhill</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: http2007</p><p>Legalized for medical use.</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: psflannery</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: michaelwhitney</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: digging90650</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Also decriminalized possession of less than one ounce.</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Flickr: BryanAlexander</p><p>Legalized for medical use. Dehydration, sun exposure, and stress caused by daily problems can inaddition play a part in your dry skin problems. Life altering changes to deter these dry skin causesare simply keep juices or water to consume handy during day time hours, lessen your time under thesun, and stop being stressed.Also legalized possession by non-medical users. Flickr: Rose Braverman</p><p>CLARIFICATION: This article was amended to reflect that marijuana smoke and cigarette smoke donot cause the same exact carcinogenic effect.</p><p>Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest andInstagram at @HuffPostStyle.</p></li></ul>