Few ingredients go up the trending pipeline from beauty and wellness buzzword to headliner at the rate that cannabidiol (CBD) has in the last 10 years. From a soothing sidekick to the starring ingredient, CBD has taken over vanities at an impressive rate. Because it remains unregulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, it can be tricky to suss out fact from fiction. Here, we’re rounding up some of the most underappreciated benefits of the buzzy botanical with the help of some true experts in the field.
As we can all agree, there is still a lot of confusion about CBD and cannabinoids in general. Let’s try to clear some of that up. Cannabinoids, including CBD, are the naturally occurring compounds found in the flowers and stems of the Cannabis sativa plant (a.k.a. hemp). CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have the most name recognition, though cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC) are just a few of the others that are starting to get attention. You can learn more in our intro guide to cannabinoids in beauty, health, and wellness.
Cannabinoids work with your endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help the body maintain balance. The ECS is made up of a series of receptors. CB1 receptors are primarily in the brain, whole CB2 receptors are abundant all over the body. Cannabinoids act as messengers to these receptors to help regulate pain, inflammation, muscle control, and more. Evidence suggests cannabinoids can relieve pain, help manage weight, improve sleep, and reduce inflammation, anxiety, and depression. Medicinal uses include controlling nausea caused by chemotherapy, regulating seizures, treating post-traumatic stress disorder, and relieving the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (to name a few). While there is still a lot of research to be done, CBD is perhaps the most studied cannabinoid.
In skincare, CBD’s superpower is targeting inflammation (i.e. the root of pretty much all skin conditions). 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, found that it helps treat psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and the scars left behind from those skin conditions.
Can CBD Make You High?
When it comes to mass-market cannabinoid products – like skincare and supplements – there are governmental limits on the use of THC, which is the naturally occurring compound that produces the psychoactive effect marijuana is known for. As it relates to industrial hemp, federal law stipulates that products must have below 0.3 percent THC in them. All of this is to say, you won’t get high from reputable CBD products, and there are ways to ensure there are absolutely no traces of THC in what you are purchasing (more on that below).
The Top Beauty & Wellness Benefits of CBD
Now that you understand the basics, let’s dive into why CBD is a standout. From the soothing properties to its youth-preserving powers, here are a few reasons why CBD should be a part of your beauty and wellness regimen.
1. It’s Safe for Sensitive Skin
Topical CBD is beneficial for all skin types. CBD is one of the few ingredients that is well-tolerated and even welcomed by skin that is prone to rosacea, eczema, and other sensitivities. “It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that allow it to calm the skin,” explains Julius Few, MD, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Chicago, who recently published new research on the ingredient.
By targeting the endocannabinoid system, the CB2 receptors understand that the topical products are there to control pain and reduce inflammation. Dr. Few notes that CBD also helps the skin retain moisture – another component of keeping the complexion balanced. From soothing chapped lips (we like the Vertly Lip Butter) to nourishing the skin (you can't go wrong with the Woke Rejuvenating Face & Neck Oil or Saint Jane Beauty Luxury Beauty Serum), CBD can be a calming presence for all skin types and concerns.
2. It Plays Very Well With Others
When we say CBD does all that and more, this is what we mean: It can complement even the trickiest ingredients in your skincare regimen. Take, for instance, topical vitamin A derivatives (read: retinol and retinoids). In his Aforé Beauty line, Dr. Few set out to create a product that offers all of the benefits of retinol without the irritation. CR Emulsion was soon born. “CBD has a natural anti-inflammatory quality, and, with retinol, the biggest limitation to patients using it has been the potential irritation and drying effect,” he explains. “CBD naturally compensates and counteracts that.”
But it’s not just soothing the skin. CBD actually makes everything it’s paired with work better. “It enhances the efficacy of ingredients,” Dr. Few shares. This is true of retinol. “CBD enhances the uptake of the retinol,” he notes. “It helps decrease inflammation and allows for a higher concentration of penetration of retinol.” And it is also true of other potent actives, like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, amino acids, which can all be found in luxury CBD skincare brand WINNØW. “By focusing on ingredients, we pair ones that can work together for all skin types to sink in on contact, lock in moisture, balance skin, alleviate redness, and plump fine lines,” explain co-founders Audrey Kirdar and Tracy Wydra.
There is technically no oversight into how these terms are used, but 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
At WINNØW, the brand uses a broad spectrum CBD. “WINNØW’s broad spectrum CBD has zero percent THC (unlike full spectrum CBD) but contains various beneficial terpenes (unlike CBD isolate) from the cannabis plant that increases its overall efficacy,” they share.
3. It Can Help Your Fitness Routine
We don’t need to tell you that working out can do a whole lot of good for the body and soul (hello, endorphins), but it can also leave you achy, fatigued, and red in the face. From pre- to post-workout, CBD can be incorporated to enhance your fitness goals. “It’s a nice agent to reduce post-workout inflammation,” Dr. Few explains.
How else can CBD be incorporated to help your fitness regimen? For those looking to increase their mental capacity and motivation without the java, the DOTE Focus supplement features encapsulated broad spectrum CBD, ginseng, vitamin B-12, ashwagandha, cordyceps, and l-tyrosine. For those who go hard at the gym or may have slept awkwardly and feel a muscle ache (we’ve all been there), we recommend the Fitish Perfect Game Sports Cream to tackle those knots.
4. It’s Post-Procedure-Friendly
Post-op downtime is one of the reasons people may hesitate to get cosmetic surgery or procedure. For Dr. Few, side effect management with topical CBD after certain in-office treatments has become the norm. “I have had a patient who had deep lines, and she had stubborn persistent redness post-ProFractional™ laser treatment,” he explains. “The CR Emulsion helped dramatically cut the redness.” In addition to the calming effect, using retinol after lasers and other resurfacing procedures can enhance the effect, he adds. At his practice, CR Emulsion is often recommended after radiofrequency skin-tightening treatments, too. “When we’re treating or targeting the neck, we love this product to help aid the results,” he notes. The WINNØW Luxury CBD Face Cream has also become a favorite for this purpose. “We have gotten feedback from customers that our cream has been used post-laser treatments to calm the skin, reduce redness, and speed up the healing process,” Kirdar and Wydra say.
Pain is another big factor to consider. After all, who wants to elect to be anxious or uncomfortable? As we’ve covered, some providers are allowing patients to incorporate CBD supplements into their pre- or-post-op routine. “When somebody gets anxious, there’s a strong cortisol release from their adrenal glands, and [CBD] can help calm that down,” Dr. Few explains. “It can provide an anti-inflammatory effect which thereby may reduce post-injection swelling.” The 707 Flora CBD + Turmeric Tincture is an editorial favorite, though you will need to discuss what is best for your circumstances with your provider.
5. It Can Minimize Signs of Aging
It feels like every product in the beauty aisle is marketed as ‘youth-preserving’ and discernment is required to avoid falling prey to empty promises. Strategically formulated CBD can be an effective part of a rejuvenation-oriented skincare routine. “CDB, in combination with our other hero ingredients such as niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, helps calm inflammation and reduce redness, boost hydration, and balance the overall texture of the skin,” the WINNØW founders share.
As Dr. Few sees it, CBD can enhance an entire routine – especially one where stronger, age-defying actives are present. “I have patients add a retinol at 50 percent in their routine with the CR Emulsion,” he explains. “We have patients who want to increase the effects, so we’ll build up as the product helps patients develop a stronger tolerance for it.”
CBD offers bountiful benefits to the skin and overall wellbeing when it's sourced and formulated properly. “Some people shy away from CBD because it is from the cannabis plant, and there is a lack of information in the marketplace,” Kirdar and Wydra say. “But we want people to be open to seeing how safe and effective it is.” That means doing your research to find a brand you can trust and speaking to your healthcare provider before introducing new products or supplements into your routine.
All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.
More Related Articles
‘Try on’ aesthetic procedures and instantly visualize possible results with AEDIT and our patented 3D aesthetic simulator.