Cannabidiol or CBD is a compound that occurs naturally in cannabis plants—both hemp and marijuana. In fact, along with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is one of two main active ingredients in cannabis.
But unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, so taking it doesn’t cause you to feel high. In fact some research indicates CBD can counteract some of THC’s effects.
More importantly, though, research shows that CBD may be an effective way to treat anxiety, chronic pain, inflammation, insomnia, migraines, neurological symptoms such as cognitive decline from Alzheimer’s Disease, and seizure disorders like epilepsy.
What’s more, this potent medical herb is now legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, so long as the CBD is derived from the industrial hemp plant, which contains 0.3 percent THC or less. But what about CBD and skin care specifically?
CBD And Skin Care: What the Science Says
Although the research above along with other science proves that CBD has plenty of medical benefits, what about the skin specifically? The science behind the skin care benefits is newer, although we have seen cannabinoids as beneficial antioxidants for a while now. We also know that many essential amino acids are found in CBD, as well as B-complex vitamins.
Fortunately, as the legal status of cannabis relaxes in the US, people also seem to be researching CBD more. Now we know that the skin has an endocannabinoid system of its own, which works to keep the skin in a healthy, balanced state. Just like the body’s endocannabinoid system, the goal is stasis, or keeping various systems and organs in the body on an even keel. This includes the skin.
The root cause of most skin disease and problems is some kind of an imbalance. CBD can potentially help restore that balance. While a lot of research still needs to be done, this is what we know about CBD and skin care so far:
Acne. CBD isn’t a total cure for acne, much of which is caused by hormones, but CBD helps fight the inflammation related to the swelling and redness of acne. The research shows that CBD helps normalize skin cell growth.
Inflammation. CBD is truly powerful at fighting inflammation, and this means it has a lot of promise for many skin issues such as eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. Transdermal CBD reduces pain and inflammation in rats, for example.
Scarring. Scars are really just damaged skin, so researchers are exploring topical CBD treatments for both healing and soothing scar tissue. One study found that CBD ointment “significantly improved” the skin parameters of tested scar tissue patients.
The World Health Organization has deemed CBD safe and the cannabinoid works with any skin type.
How Does CBD Work in Skincare Products?
Awais Spall, a formulation chemist and cannabis researcher, with a background in skincare, explains that CBD’s health-promoting benefits primarily come from its interaction with the endocannabinoid system and cross-talk of these pathways with various other receptor pathways in the body.
”We’ve recently discovered that the outer layer of our skin, the epidermis has a dense network of CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD interacts with these pathways and other nerve pathways across the epidermis and dermis,” says Awais.
Since CBD is a regulatory and balancing compound, it can be beneficial for a wide variety of skin types and conditions.
What Skin Conditions is it best for?
CBD has antioxidant properties that allow it to be very soothing and restorative for skin inflamed and irritated skin.
“Many people dealing with rosacea and eczema have found CBD to be helpful in stopping the inflammatory cascade of itching and dryness,” explains Awais. “CBD can also effective in moisturizing dry skin, improving cell regeneration by upregulating cell-turnover, and reduce pain and itching by easing inflammatory nerve pathways known as transient receptor potentials.”
If you’re specifically looking to relieve pain, check out our post on the best CBD creams for pain relief.
What CBD products are most impactful on the skin?
Depending on the user’s end goals, different CBD products can have a different impact on the skin.
According to Awais, a facial CBD serum would be an excellent choice for getting the CBD’s benefits as an anti-oxidant. CBD lotion can also to be an excellent choice to maintaining moisturized skin. For shorter-term relief, or if you want to gradually incorporate CBD into your skincare, then you can try CBD soap, or a wash-off cleanser.
“However, they do have to be formulated correctly with transdermal properties,” explains Awais. “These properties allow the CBD creams to penetrate beyond the epidermis and interact with the deeper endocannabinoid system that can promote wound healing and reduce inflammation.”
4 CBD Beauty Products To Add To Your Routine
- Spruce Topical CBD Body Cream
- CBDfx Rejuvediol CBD Face Cleanser
- Koi Skincare CBD Tightening Toner
- CBDfx Rejuvediol CBD Oil Face Serum
Spruce Topical CBD Body Cream
This Spruce body cream is where lab-grade CBD meets spa grade luxury. The 100% natural plant fragrance is extremely light, and the feel on your skin is hydrating, yet not greasy. The silky cream clings well enough to deliver those soothing full-spectrum CBD effects, too. This is the kind of product that can give you a high-end feel, but it is also practical enough for every day use.
Made in the USA. $39 for a one-time purchase, or $33.15 with free shipping for a subscribe and save option.
CBDfx Rejuvediol CBD Face Cleanser
When you try this CBDfx Rejuvediol CBD Face Cleanser you’ll notice it right away. The mint and charcoal immediately wake up your skin, and soon you feel the smooth, soothing feeling of the CBD extract on your skin. It’s a powerful one-two punch that leaves your face feeling refreshed, and charcoal is known to remove impurities from your pores. A good option for removing grime or environmental toxins that have been stressing your skin.
$29.99 per bottle
Koi Skincare CBD Tightening Toner
For those times when your face just won’t stop shining, hemp-infused Koi Skincare CBD Tightening Toner comes to the rescue. Every bottle contains 500 mg of CBD along with a potent blend of fruit essences designed to encourage healthy cell turnover and help regulate oil production. The end result is a more elastic, glowing face and a more balanced skincare routine. Hemp contains antioxidants which help fight signs of aging. The naturally restorative properties of hemp replenish essential vitamins and minerals, promote elasticity, and detoxify the skin.
$59.99 per bottle, or subscribe and save 10%
CBDfx Rejuvediol CBD Oil Face Serum
For people with very sensitive skin who still want to try CBD on their facial skin, CBDfx Rejuvediol CBD Oil Face Serum may be the answer. It is designed to be used after washing the skin, and you rub the warm serum into your face and leave it there. The CBD has time to soak in, along with jojoba, rose extract, and red raspberry seed oil which are intended to calm the skin and nourish it with vitamin E. Each vegan bottle of face serum contains 250 mg of CBD. The product is intended to reduce signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles by protecting against free radical damage, stimulating cellular turnover, and boosting skin elasticity.
$59.99 per bottle
CBD Skin Care Benefits
And the anti-acne properties from the research speak for themselves, reducing oil production without drying the skin.
So what are some of the other potential skin care benefits of CBD?
Slow signs of aging. Because of the antioxidant properties we talked about above, you can expect CBD products to work about as well as any other skin care products that hydrate and treat free radical damage, dryness, and inflammation with antioxidants like vitamin E or vitamin C. That includes signs of damage such as dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Soothe skin. Topical CBD products will share the anti-inflammatory products we discussed, and that can soothe dryness, itching, and red skin.
Balance complexion. The idea that CBD helps the skin’s endocannabinoid system keep the entire organ stay in balance makes sense, but what does it mean in practice? It means no excess oil, and enough hydration—no patchy spots or oily T-zone, for example.
How to Find the Best CBD Skin Care Company
CBD oil for skin care is definitely trending, and as cannabis stigma slowly fades, more beauty and wellness companies will no doubt work to capture CBD’s skincare treatment potential. But not all CBD skincare products are created equal—in fact, some don’t even have much CBD in them.
How can you look for great CBD products for your skin? Should you stick to DIY skin care that includes CBD, or are the beauty companies nailing it?
Let’s answer the second question first: there is no need to DIY this. From Sephora to Lord Jones, there are tons of high end CBD skin care products on the market today—some even formulated by experts in dermatology.
All CBD-infused products are made with broad-spectrum CBD oil, full-spectrum CBD oil, or CBD isolate:
- Full-spectrum CBD oil includes all hemp compounds, including trace amounts of THC
- Broad-spectrum CBD oil includes a range of cannabinoids, flavonoids, essential oils, and terpenes derived from hemp—but no THC
- CBD isolate is CBD in its purest form without any other compounds
(Some people prefer CBD isolate, because they feel it is less likely to clog their pores and is pure, but this is a matter of preference.)
Look for how the product is labeled: they should state “broad-spectrum CBD,” “cannabidiol,” “full-spectrum CBD,” “hemp CBD,” or “hemp extract.” Skin care products with cannabis Sativa seed oil or hemp seed oil are not the same as CBD oil products.
Determine how much CBD is in the product you’re considering. Make sure you’re looking at serving size and doing the math.
Quality should be the most important factor, of course.
According to research from 2017, more than 60 percent of CBD products sold online are mislabeled. In other words, your source and their testing and transparency are critical! Always look for third-party lab testing and the ability to access testing results.
Obviously, if you don’t see cannabidiol in the ingredients of a “CBD” skin care product, it may be an imposter. Remember, cannabis extract, cannabis seed oil, hemp butter, hemp oil—none of these are the same thing.
The Future of CBD Skin Care?
CBD holds so much promise for problem skin! But even so, right now the online marketplace is a little bit like the Wild West. This isn’t really always the fault of the industry—it’s more a long-term process of slowly recovering from unfair restrictions that have long stood in the way of progress.
In the meantime, most higher end CBD skin care makers have a huge incentive to be transparent and reveal what’s in their products. They know they work, and the science proves it.
There are a host of amazing products out there today that combine other active ingredients, too, from hyaluronic acid (HA) to argan oil to meet the specific demands of every consumer. Whether you’re a fan of a basic, pure CBD product or you’re more likely to want to throw the kitchen sink into your body lotion, there is almost guaranteed to be a really amazing CBD product out there for your skin.
[Disclaimer: Remember, never start or stop a skincare routine or new treatment regimen without consulting a medical professional. If your skin has a disease, or itches, something chemical, mechanical (inside the body) or thermal (like a burn) can be causing the problem or the sensation. Because so many things can bother the skin, it’s important to understand the cause of the problem before you try treating it. The FDA has not evaluated these statements.]