While the recreational use of marijuana is now legal in some places, on this side of the pond lighting up a joint is still very much a criminal activity. So how come there’s suddenly been an explosion of oils, serums, masks and moisturisers with cannabis on the ingredients list and what are the health benefits of CBD for skin?
Why use CBD in skin care?
“Cannabis, which until not too long ago was taboo, has now started to emerge as a significant element in the medical and wellness sectors,” says Hugh Winters, CEO of Australian skincare company MGC Derma.
“Since your skin is your biggest organ, it can benefit your skin the most.”
Recent changes in global legislation have allowed firms to do more research and experimentation into the beauty benefits of the cannabis plant. This is why cannabidiol (CBD) products are flooding the market, with new brands popping up and big names like Kiehl’s and Cult Beauty jumping on the CBD bandwagon.
“It’s a game-changer!” agrees Laure Bouguen, founder of French brand Ho Karan.
“It can replace a lot of synthetic and less powerful molecules and reshape the beauty industry into a wellness industry with a beauty-in and beauty-out approach.”
So what are the benefits of CBD skincare and how should you be using it? Here, 4 experts explain…
What is CBD and how can it be legal?
“Cannabidiol (CBD) is a totally non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant,” explains Winters.
It comes in a variety of forms and is usually derived from the hemp plant. Hemp and marijuana are the two primary species of cannabis. It is extracted from the seeds and stems, and is legal globally because it contains only minute amounts of THC, the chemical that gets you ‘high’.
“At the other end of the spectrum is CBD extracted from medical-grade cannabis (why our company is named MGC),” Winters says.
“The oils are extracted from the flower of the plant as opposed to seeds and stems, contain 20% or more of CBD of a higher grade, and usually higher than trace amounts of THC, thus only legal in certain countries.”
“Be informed of what you are buying,” advises Gamu Mawora, technologist in ethical beauty and aromatherapy at Holland & Barrett, who have their own CBD skincare range.
“As with any upcoming trend, it is easy to be confused by the presentation of products, especially between hemp and CBD which are not quite the same thing. Always look out for CBD oil or Cannabidiol on the ingredients list.”
What are the benefits of CBD skincare?
“The virtues of hemp for skin are amazing,” says Bouguen. “By action on the endocannabinoid system of the skin, many studies shows that CBD can be useful for acne, psoriasis, dermatitis or dry skin.”
Mawora says: “There have been some recent findings that suggest that CBD has the potential to decrease excessive sebum production as well as slowing down other triggers of acne.”
It’s also known to have anti-inflammatory effects, so can help soothe rosacea or redness.
Even if you don’t have a specific skin concern, CBD is thought to benefit your complexion.
“The molecular structure includes a high concentration of vitamins A, B, D and E and is rich in antioxidants,” Winters says.
“Further, there are indications that CBD will work in concert with other ingredients like hyaluronic acid to enhance their effectiveness, making the skin appear firmer and younger with reduced wrinkles and a natural fresh glow.”
“For too long people have been focusing on the negative side of cannabis; but we’re here to champion a natural product that not only has a health provenance dating back thousands of years, but in today’s labs, has proven benefits for the skin,” says Samir Juneja. She’s from skincare brand CBD of London, which is named after cannabidiol aka CBD, the active ingredient derived from the cannabis plant.
“In order to achieve younger-looking skin, we have to protect from free radicals, UV rays, smoke and environmental pollutants,” Juneja explains of his company’s serums and creams. “CBD is high in antioxidants, alongside Vitamin C, E, A, or Omega 3 fatty acids, making it a good source for essential anti-ageing compounds.”
“The ingredients we use encourage collagen and elastin cell renewal, aid and maintain skin elasticity and work to dramatically brighten and revive skin tones.”
FAQs: CBD health benefits for skin
Sounds good, doesn’t it? And there are now several brands producing cannabidiol beauty products, but it can still be a confusing topic, so we asked Juneja to separate fact from fiction by dispelling some common myths about cannabis-based skincare…
1. Are CDB, cannabis, hemp and marijuana all the same thing?
“No. Cannabis is the name given to the family of plants, but there are different species including hemp and marijuana within the cannabis family. The marijuana plant contains higher amounts of THC, the cannabinoids which affect your mind, while hemp contains very low trace amounts of THC and higher amount of CBD. Different plant species are grown for different reasons.
“CBD oil is the short form of the term cannabidiol oil. Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is among the most abundant of all the cannabinoids (there are over 100, and work best when extracted all together). It’s found in all varieties of cannabis, but dominates the make-up of hemp plants.”
2. Are hemp oil and CBD oil the same thing?
“No. Hemp oil is derived usually from industrial hemp. It is produced by crushing the seeds of the hemp plant and is often used for cooking, general moisturisers or bio-fuels. CBD oil is made from the leaves, flowers and stalks of the hemp plant.
“CBD oil can be derived from industrial hemp, but at CBD of London we use ‘cannabis sativa’. We use full spectrum CBD oil in all our products which contains 100+ cannabinoids – the more cannabinoids equate to more health potential.”
3: Can you get high from CBD?
“No, you can’t. Yes, it’s true that CBD is derived from the cannabis plant, but CBD contains only tiny trace amounts of THC (the cannabinoid that gets you high). Therefore it will have no effect on your mind whatsoever.”
4. If the sale of cannabis is illegal in the UK, how is cannabidiol skincare legal?
“The reason cannabidiol products are legal in the UK is because they contain less than 0.3% THC. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the compound extracted from the cannabis plant due to it containing the health/skin benefits, leaving the THC compound behind.”
5. Is CBD just another manufactured chemical?
“No, it isn’t. The compounds which make up CBD are found naturally in cannabis, with higher concentrates in the hemp variety of the plant. When broken down, they are formed of minerals, vitamins and fatty acids – all of which are vital to skin development, protection and maintenance. There are no nasty manufactured chemicals, just lovely natural ones.”
6. CBD may be natural but could you body still react oddly to it?
“In fact your body produces most, if not all, of the natural minerals, vitamins and fatty acids which make up CBD – a bit like retinol or keratin. By adding CBD oil to face creams or your health care regime, you are just enhancing what your body does naturally.”
7. Doesn’t it smell funny and a bit hippy-ish?
“No. You’re thinking of hemp oil which does have a rather musty smell. CBD oil has no scent and as we add no perfumes to our products, it is completely safe to use on sensitive skin”
Cannabis crop: CBD skincare products to try
Vitality CBD Skin Cream, Amazon.
MGC Derma CBD Stem Cells & Hyaluronic Facial Serum, Lookfantastic.
Revolution Skincare Skin Nourishing CBD Oil, Superdrug.
Holland & Barrett CBD Serum.
Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate, Selfridges.
Dr Botanicals Hemp Super Concentrated Rescue Essence Serum, Amazon.
Ho Karan Holy Flow 2.5% CBD Oil, Ho Karan.
Disciple Miracle Drops 1% CBD, Cult Beauty.
Healthy Hemp Holland, High Strength Hemp Oil Drops, Amazon.
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