What You Need To Know About CBD In Skincare
The benefits of cannabidiol (a.k.a. CBD) are numerous, so it’s no wonder the beauty industry has taken full advantage. From serums and balms to lotions and oils, it seems CBD is everywhere you look in the skincare aisle – or is it?
Because the buzzy ingredient isn’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there’s a lot of misinformation and clutter out there causing confusion. We were surprised to find that even editors who wrote articles on “top CBD products” were misled. Believe it or not, after looking through ingredient lists, some of those “top products” don’t actually have any CBD in them at all. We’re on a mission to help you figure out which products are really worth using, why CBD is a beneficial skincare ingredient, and how to read the label.
Earlier this month, we posted a guide to all kinds of cannabinoids, which explains everything you need to know about CBD and beyond. And, since Grand View Research predicts the CBD skincare market will be worth $1.7 billion by 2025, it’s important to understand how to navigate this rapidly growing industry to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.
[Editor’s Note: Cannabinoid use is not regulated by the FDA, and it is recommended to speak with your healthcare provider before adding them to your regimen.]
The Benefits of CBD in Skincare
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant that work with your endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help your body maintain balance. The most common cannabinoid is CBD, which is why you’re seeing it just about everywhere. In skincare, its superpower is targeting inflammation (i.e. the root of all skin conditions).
“CBD acts like a magnet to where you have deficiencies,” says Casey Georgeson, founder of Saint Jane Beauty. As such, it’s a difficult ingredient to study and look at from a clinical point of view because – unlike, say, a synthetic drug like Tylenol – it affects people differently depending on their individual needs. But that doesn’t mean the data hasn’t been promising. “In research, we’ve seen it significantly improves eczema, acne, redness, irritation, and aging,” she shares.
“We’re only at the start of CBD-based skin and body care innovation,” says Barbara Close, founder of Naturopathica. “As an herbalist, I’ve always formulated using the most effective, healing herbs and botanicals. Cannabis is one of the most widely studied and highly regarded herbs for both acute concerns and general wellbeing.” According to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, CBD helps to reduce acne breakouts by calming inflammation and reducing excessive sebum production. Another study, meanwhile, proves it helps treat psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and scars left behind from these skin conditions.
You might have noticed that many spas are offering CBD-infused treatments and asked yourself, ‘Are they worth the hype?’ The answer is yes. The body’s endocannabinoid system is made up of a series of receptors (CB1 receptors that are primarily in the brain, and CB2 receptors that are abundant all over the body), and the cannabinoids found in CBD act as messengers to these receptors to help control pain, inflammation, muscle control, and more. “Topically, CBD targets the CB2 receptors on location making it ideal for relieving localized soreness and stiffness, and generally helping the body to relax,” Close explains. “Because of this, it’s a perfect companion ingredient to use during a massage.”
How to Choose a Product
Due to the lack of FDA oversight, brands can use sketchy marketing tactics to imply ingredients like CBD are in products that may or may not actually contain any. Fortunately, there are steps consumers can take to ensure the formulations you are interested in are both efficacious and sincere.
1. Research the Company
When it comes to investing in cannabidiol-based skincare products, there are a few things to look for to make sure you’re purchasing true CBD. “One of the most important things to understand about the product you’re buying is the belief system of the brand you’re buying from,” Georgeson says. This isn’t something you can necessarily find on a label, but, if you do your homework online, most credible companies using CBD will be transparent about their sourcing and potency. When it comes to sourcing, look for hemp that’s organically grown in the United States. Each country has its own regulations surrounding the word ‘organic,’ and this will ensure it’s grown in healthy soil.
2. Look at the Ingredient List
Don’t be fooled by the words ‘cannabis’ or ‘hemp’ on an ingredient list. Many companies mislead consumers into thinking their products have CBD in them by using other parts of the hemp plant, when, in fact, they don’t have any CBD at all. Ingredients like ‘cannabis sativa seed’ or ‘hemp seed oil,’ for example, are from the hemp plant. But, instead of being extracted from the flowers like CBD, they come from the seeds and have different, less potent benefits.
While there is technically no oversight into how these terms are used, products with cannabidiol generally fall into the following categories:
- CBD Isolate: Pure CBD with no other cannabinoids or terpenes
- Broad-Spectrum CBD: Includes trace levels of other cannabinoids and terpenes, but no THC
- Full-Spectrum CBD: Features trace levels of additional cannabinoids and terpenes, including THC
While CBD products in the medical cannabis market may contain enough THC to induce psychoactive effects, hemp-derived CBD comes from industrial hemp plants and are required by law to have less than 0.3 percent THC (read: not enough to get you high).
3. Opt for Full-Spectrum CBD
CBD works best when it is formulated with other minor cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and CBC to name a few. “Full-spectrum CBD is sourced from the whole plant material, which means that it contains an array of cannabinoids, as well as beneficial vitamins and minerals, omega fatty acids, chlorophyll, flavonoids, and terpenes,” Close explains. “When combined, these elements deliver an ‘entourage effect’ for enhanced relief.”
AEDIT-Approved Products to Try
So, if you're ready to add CBD to your skincare routine, here are a some products that live up to the guidelines laid out above.
Saint Jane Beauty The C-Drops Saint Jane Beauty is known for blending 500 milligrams of full-spectrum hemp oil into luxurious serums that are made in California and rich in potent botanicals. This sustainably sourced brightening serum also contains 20 percent vitamin C to improve skin tone and texture. $90, saintjanebeauty.com
Naturopathica Chill Full Spectrum CBD & Kava Balm Sourced organically in Loma, Colorado (you can find full transparency on sourcing and potency on their website), this full-spectrum CBD balm contains 100 milligrams of cannabinoids to help relax your mind and soothe your skin. Rub it onto areas of stress and tightness as well as your pressure points. $76, naturopathicachill.com
PG PRIME CBD Remedy Oil+ Third party lab tests? Check. Harvested in the U.S.? Check. This full-spectrum CBD oil can be used topically on your body, face, and scalp to help bring balance back to your skin. Use it alone or as a booster in your favorite moisturizer. $90, neimanmarcus.com
Lord Jones Acid Mantle Repair CBD Infused Moisturizer With roots in the medical marijuana field, Lord Jones was the first brand to launch a CBD product in Sephora. This moisturizer contains a ceramide complex that combines full spectrum, hemp-derived CBD oil (sourced in Colorado) and sunflower seed oil to rebalance the skin. Each product contains a traceable batch code, so you can pull up their certificate of analysis (COA) and review the cannabinoid profile. Transparency at its finest. $75, lordjones.com
Vertly Lip Butter Vertly handcrafts small batches of cannabidiol in California. In addition to full-spectrum CBD, this nourishing lip balm includes coconut oil, shea butter, and cacao butter to moisturize and help heal the pout. $22, vertlybalm.com
Chantecaille CBD 300 Face and Body Cream This rich cream teams 300 milligrams of cannabidiol with botanicals like cherimoya extract to provide a calming effect. Formulated for use on the face and body, this stress-relieving skincare will keep your skin smooth and hydrated from head to toe. $125, chantecaille.com
Sagely Naturals Drift & Dream Body Oil Sagely Naturals is formulated by chemists and naturopaths using cannabinoids sourced in Colorado and Oregon. Apply this body oil while your skin is still damp after a nighttime bath or shower and the added lavender oil will help you relax. $39.99, sagelynaturals.com
The Future of CBD in Skincare
While CBD may be in the spotlight right now, there are many other cannabinoids being studied as well. When you choose a full-spectrum product, you’re already reaping their benefits, but, in the future, we may see some of them taking center stage as boosters. “I can see beauty brands boosting their products with a purified form of minor cannabinoids for enhanced results,” Georgeson predicts. “The extraction methodology has to be buttoned up, but, in time, I see full-spectrum CBD being blended with a separate purified isolate.” Some contenders include CBG (currently being studied as a mood enhancer and appetite suppressor), CBC (to help fight acne and inflammation), and CBN (a sleep superhero).