Cannabis is experiencing some sort of renaissance, thanks to more liberal policies and emerging scientific evidence. The cannabidiol explosion is most evident in the beauty and wellness market where every product seems to promote CBD as an active ingredient.
CBD in beauty products promises to take your skin care routine to the next level. The anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, and anti-aging properties of cannabidiol are being hyped as the next best thing in the wellness category, spawning a wide range of topical applications.
Celebrities such as Olivia Wilde, Mandy Moore, and Busy Philipps, plus chic brands Vertly and Lord Jones, have given CBD that luxury tag. We have never seen such frenzy around a green plant since kale and now everything has its own CBD-infused version – from lip balm to lube.
What is CBD?
The cannabis sativa plant has more than 100 compounds called cannabinoids. The two most well-known and well-studied cannabinoids are THC and CBD. Back in the day, cannabis was always associated with THC. Strains were bred specifically to contain high THC as their only purpose then was for people to get high. It is only in recent years that scientists began exploring the possible health benefits of CBD – which is the non-psychoactive counterpart of THC.
CBD will never ever get you high, which is precisely why it is so popular right now.
Why CBD is all the rage these days
Prior to legalization, cannabis was just weed. Now that hemp CBD is legal in all 50 states, more people have the opportunity to experience the plant in a different way.
Claudia Mata, co-founder of infused skincare brand Vertly, said, "the public is starting to view CBD more like a vitamin with its anti-inflammation properties, essential fatty acids, and vitamins A, D, and E".
Another popular line of infused goodies is Lord Jones – distributor of CBD confections in Standard hotels nationwide. According to co-founder Cindy Capobianco, "the word of mouth on CBD spreading like wildfire has erased the stigma on cannabis and replaced it with enthusiasm and normalization".
While pain relief and anxiety control are still the most popular applications of CBD, cannabidiol is quickly becoming recognized for its topical treatment of skin conditions. Studies have discovered great potential in CBD in destroying cells that cause eczema. CBD is also able to help regulate sebum production and prevent acne. Full-spectrum CBD is known to contain vitamin E which is crucial in protecting the skin.
Topical vs. edible
When you ingest CBD as an edible or tincture, the cannabidiol enters the bloodstream like aspirin and takes up to two hours or more before the effects are felt. On the other hand, CBD that is slathered on the skin acts only on the area where it is applied so the nutrients are immediately absorbed.
Topical CBD products are great for people who cannot or do not want to pop pills. The CBD works directly on the affected area which is why we are seeing it in many rubs, balms and lotions. Topical CBD is popular as a massage cream for achy joints and sore muscles after a workout.
6 reasons why you should add CBD to your skincare routine
- Can reduce the symptoms of skin disorders
Most studies highlight the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of CBD.
New York City dermatologist Dendy Engelman calls inflammation, "the root of all evil" and notes the lack of new treatment options as acne rates continue to increase.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of CBD can help reduce puffiness, swelling, and even soreness, targeting those problems simultaneously.
Although the exact cause of eczema is unknown, many believe that the disorder is a type of allergic response to inflammation of the skin. Another skin condition – psoriasis – is associated with immune system issues.
Scientists are now finding more evidence that CBD might be able to reduce inflammation and improve immune system regulation to treat skin disorders such as dry skin, psoriasis and eczema.
A study in 2005 found that hemp oil caused significant changes in plasma fatty acid profiles and improved clinical symptoms of atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema. [R]
CBD is also known to cause cell death in abnormally growing cell groups, which may help in preventing warts, moles, and even HPV outbreaks.
According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science, cannabinoids might be able to prevent the accumulation of dead skin cells and other psoriasis symptoms. [R]
Perhaps the most important discovery in topical cannabinoids is their possible effect on skin cancers like melanoma. The ability to control cell growth and death has made CBD a potential remedy in skin cancer treatments.
In 2013, the British Journal of Pharmacology published a study on the epigenetic control of skin differentiation genes by cannabinoids. The findings confirmed that cannabidiol and cannabigerol are transcriptional repressors that can control cell proliferation and differentiation. This indicates that CBD has the potential to be a lead component of novel therapeutics for skin diseases, allergies, and even certain cancers like melanoma. [R] [R]
- May prevent breakouts
Acne can be traced to stress, hormonal changes, medication changes, and the use of incompatible skin care products. Physically, acne is caused by different components: excess sebum, blocked pores, inflammation, and proliferation of bacteria.
Sebum is an oily substance that creates a barrier on our skin to keep bacteria and viruses away. It also works as a lubricant for the hair and skin.
Overproduction of lipids causes acne while underproduction causes eczema. When sebum combines with dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells, it clogs the pores and leads to inflammation and blemishes on the skin.
The sebaceous glands in our skin contain endocannabinoid receptors, which is why CBD can influence their function.
In 2014, a study was conducted on CBD as a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Researchers found that CBD can help regulate the oil production of human sebaceous glands, thus suppressing acne breakouts. As a highly effective sebostatic agent, CBD has the capability to adjust oil production in the skin and hair by inhibiting lipid production. [R] [R]
CBD is also known to possess antibacterial properties that can help treat infection – a major contributor to acne.
Since then dermatologists have been intrigued by the prospect of having a new non-steroidal remedy in their arsenal. If CBD can consistently control inflammation and oil production, it would open the floodgates to treating acne lesion formation. This is great news for people who do not want to take spironolactone or retinoids like Accutane. The problem with retinoids is that they cause redness, dryness, and peeling – making skin worse before it gets better.
People with acne often lack healthy fatty acids, which hemp CBD oil can provide. Fatty acids protect and strengthen the outer layer of the skin to make it look fresh and young.
- Can slow down the aging process
One of the most exciting possibilities with CBD is its potential to support skin cell regeneration. What if CBD can actually make your cells think they are 10 years younger? According to a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, the interaction between endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and CBD can manipulate the body’s natural ability to get rid of dead cells and generate new cells. This can help manage the life cycle of cells for a more radiant, younger looking skin.
CBD is also a powerful antioxidant that can protect the skin from free radicals. Smoke, dust, ultraviolet rays, and other environmental pollutants are known to cause wrinkles and fine facial lines. CBD as an antioxidant is more powerful than Vitamin C, E, A, or omega 3 fatty acids. It could help slow down skin damage and the effects of aging.
- Could prevent itching
Instead of applying cortisone to your next rash, consider topical CBD creams as a natural plant-based alternative. If you live in an area where winters are harsh, it is always an uphill battle with dermatitis and itchy dry skin. CBD could help hydrate your skin and prevent that nasty itch.
New York dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner explains that CBD binds to TRPV-1 receptors in the skin to reduce pain, heat and itch and create a soothing effect. The natural fatty acids in hemp oil may also relieve dry skin and eczema.
- Known to add moisture
Ask any dermatologist what is the key to healthy skin and they will all say hydration, hydration, hydration. Thanks to Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, cannabidiol is nature’s answer to our moisturizing needs.
Cracked, flaky and irritated skin is often associated with cold weather. Hydration from CBD could soothe dry skin during the long winter months.
- Extra source of vitamins
Adding CBD to your skincare regime gives you another source of vitamins. CBD-infused beauty formulas provide you with Vitamin E and C that protect skin collagen from damage caused by sun rays and free radicals. Vitamin B complex helps reconstruct skin, hair and nails to prevent dermatitis, hair loss, and other skin conditions. They also contain Vitamin A and D that promote skin cell regeneration – repairing dry and flaky skin and keeping it soft, tight and supple.
Hemp CBD topical products also contain a wide array of essential nutrients, proteins, minerals and fatty acids that support skin health.
Full-spectrum vs. isolate
While CBD is getting all the attention, it is not the only cannabinoid that promotes skin health. Scientists are now beginning to study other cannabinoids as well, including cannabinol (CBN), cannabicitran (CBT), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabigerovarin (CBGV).
The "entourage effect" works on the principle that compounds from a whole cannabis plant work better together than CBD alone. A recent study from Israel showed that full-spectrum CBD is more effective for pain relief than CBD isolates.
Herbal beauty brand Vertly prefers whole-plant CBD, comparing it to eating a whole-foods diet.
Its competitor Lord Jones experimented with CBD isolates at first but is now offering a full-spectrum CBD line. According to its founders, whole plant hemp extract with a full cannabinoid profile is the most effective for skin care.
CBD is a powerful cannabinoid but ignoring the over 100 additional cannabinoids means you are missing out on the potential of the entourage effect. The receptors of the human endocannabinoid system work more efficiently with whole-plant, full spectrum cannabinoids rather than CBD on its own.
What to look for in CBD beauty products
Just like in the food industry, knowing where your main ingredient comes from is crucial in finding the right beauty product. Some cannabis plants are grown with toxic pesticides. Some go through harsh processes that strip away important phytonutrients – leaving you a CBD isolate that is just white powder. While cannabidiol from industrial hemp is guaranteed to be non-psychoactive, some CBD products are extracted from plants that contain high levels of THC. Make sure you choose a CBD extract that is derived from hemp and not marijuana.
The best CBD oils come from companies that are fully transparent. They tell you how much cannabidiol and other cannabinoids are in their formula, they publish third party test results, and they have verified testimonials from real people. Before you decide on a product, learn more about the company and how its people run their business.
CBD oil for skin care is not just a buzz. As scientists discover more about how the endocannabinoid system works, it is just a matter of time before conclusive evidence comes out on how CBD may help treat skin disorders and promote skin health.