The CBD buzz has definitely made its mark on the health and wellness scene, but it looks as though this small but mighty cannabinoid is also beginning to transform the beauty industry.
Countless cosmetic brands have hopped on the bandwagon, creating CBD-infused products that range from face oils to body creams to mascara. But is CBD really the ultimate beauty ally in your makeup and skincare regime?
Here, we take a look at what the science says about CBD cosmetics to get to the bottom of whether they’re really worth the hype.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is one of many natural cannabinoids found in the hemp variety of the Cannabis sativa plant. It is non-psychoactive, meaning it cannot get you high. For this reason, it is widely available (and legal) to buy in the UK, and it’s proving hugely popular.
CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), a cell signalling network that is involved in regulating our mood, appetite, sleep, immune activity, memory, and much more. It does this through the activity of cannabinoid receptors which, interestingly, can also be found in the skin barrier.
The ECS is highly involved in maintaining skin health, and CBD is thought to give a helping hand with this process. There is accumulating evidence for the use of topical CBD products as a treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including acne and eczema, among others.
The rise of CBD in the cosmetics industry
In the last few years, the perceived health benefits of CBD have been trumpeted far and wide. Thousands of people across the globe use this cannabinoid to help manage the symptoms of countless medical conditions and to support their everyday wellbeing. CBD is proving particularly popular for its anxiety-relieving and stress-busting properties, but could it also help to calm our skin?
The CBD cosmetics industry is expanding at an extraordinary rate, with the global market predicted to grow by $2.22 billion between 2020 and 2024. The sudden interest in CBD by the beauty industry started when researchers theorised that its anti-inflammatory properties could soothe inflammatory skin conditions.
Many claim topical CBD products to be effective at relieving redness, inflammation, and acne scarring. Outside of skincare, CBD is now being infused into countless cosmetic products, with the purpose of elevating our skin, hair, and makeup regimes.
Belinda Carli, director at the Institute of Personal Care Science, told Cosmetics Design Europe that “CBD is an exciting area for innovation where new cosmetic uses are proven or further established with clinical efficacy.” It’s certainly a creative way to piggyback off the popularity of the cannabis industry, but how reliable is the science?
Do CBD cosmetics work?
Rave reviews of CBD-infused skincare products say that they can reduce redness, prevent spots, reduce scarring, and even have an anti-ageing effect on the skin. However, the clinical research is still in its very early stages and there is no conclusive evidence to support the claims that CBD is a “miracle beauty ingredient”.
That being said, numerous experimental studies have shown that CBD has some pretty cool skincare credentials, so let’s take a look at how the science squares up to some of these skin-related health claims.
Research has shown that CBD, when applied to the skin, has local anti-inflammatory action. Not only has this been shown to reduce inflammatory pain, but researchers now believe that this could also minimise redness and swelling of spots, eczema, and psoriasis on the skin.
Since acne is known to be an inflammatory condition, CBD products could therefore help to soothe painful breakouts and reduce the likelihood of future flare-ups.
Cutibacterium acnes is an important bacterium on the skin surface. When our skin bacteria becomes imbalanced, C. acnes can accumulate in hair follicles and potentially cause spots or acne.
Numerous studies have shown that CBD has antimicrobial properties and, recently, one study found that it can specifically inhibit C. acnes, with little potential for antibiotic resistance, which is also thought to underlie some of the spot-busting properties of CBD skincare.
Prevent clogged pores
Attached to hair follicles are sebaceous glands, which produce an oily wax-like substance called sebum that acts as a skin barrier, protecting, hydrating, and waterproofing the face.
The primary cause of acne is the overproduction of sebum. Too much sebum can clog our pores, forming blackheads, whiteheads, or even cystic breakouts. In a study of CBD on human sebaceous gland cells, CBD administration was highly sebostatic, meaning it inhibited the production of sebum.
These findings are yet to be replicated in human trials so, although CBD could minimise the clogging of pores and prevent spots, there isn’t quite enough evidence to say it will.
Researchers can’t say for certain whether CBD can treat acne scars, but there is some evidence to suggest that CBD can encourage wound healing. In a 3-month trial of twice-daily CBD ointment application on 20 patients with skin disorders, CBD appeared to reduce scarring.
Future trials with a more rigorous methodology are needed, but this is definitely an indication that topical CBD products could help to support the healing of blemishes and scars.
Popular CBD-infused cosmetics
With CBD beauty products now stocked at some of the leading online and high-street retailers, there has never been a better time to give cannabinoids a try. Here are just a few of the many types of CBD cosmetics available.
One of the more common ways to apply CBD to the skin is with CBD-infused face oils, creams and serums. Not only are they super hydrating, but they’re a convenient way to get a higher dose of CBD to the skin and really feel its beauty benefits.
For more targeted treatment, it is also possible to buy CBD spot patches and ointments that are applied directly to the problem area. This is ideal for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin.
CBD body care
Skincare isn’t solely for the face. If you’re keen to try a product that soothes body acne too, you could opt for a CBD body butter or moisturiser, or perhaps a CBD-infused soap. Your options are far from limited.
Or, try adding some CBD products to your self-care routine, such as bath bombs or bath soaks – and why not apply a CBD facemask while you’re at it! This way, you’re also getting to experience CBD’s stress-busting action with products that soothe both the inside and outside.
Hair products are some of the newer CBD cosmetics on the market. They are aimed to nourish the scalp, soothe itching and irritation, and promote hair growth by boosting collagen production.
The evidence to support these claims is limited; CBD-infused hair products may help to hydrate and soothe the scalp and hair, but until we have hard scientific data in front of us, we can’t say for sure how effective they actually are.
CBD and makeup may not seem like the obvious pairing, but this cannabinoid has already revolutionised the beauty space through the development of CBD makeup products. CBD-infused primers, in particular, are proving to be hugely popular, acting as a soothing and protective base for your makeup.
Even decorative cosmetics, such as CBD lip products or CBD mascara, are available to buy from online beauty retailers to add a little hydrating kick to our favourite makeup products.
Keen to try?
With the rise of commercial CBD products, it’s clear that some brands are hopping on the cannabinoid trend without much consideration of the science. As a result, many products contain significantly less CBD than the dose used in scientific research or hardly any CBD at all.
To ensure that your skin is getting enough of the good stuff to reap the benefits, look for higher potency products. Anything over 10 mg of CBD per mL should be strong enough to do the trick.
As a consumer, it’s crucial that you’re buying from a legitimate and trustworthy brand. With the growing popularity of CBD, more and more people are falling victim to scams or low-quality products.
At leafie, we would advise you to really do your research when looking for a new CBD cosmetic product. As well as potency, brand transparency and product traceability are key when it comes to buying CBD. Since the hemp plant accumulates much of its surrounding environment, including pesticides and toxins, a brand should disclose exactly where its CBD was grown. If this information is nowhere to be found, it’s a major red flag.
Far more research is needed to assess the effectiveness of CBD-infused beauty products and to determine any potential risks or side effects. The reviews and testimonials are there, but it seems as though CBD cosmetics marketing is outpacing the science. That being said, seeing hemp-based products on the shelves is a great step forward in shaking off the stigma attached to cannabis, so it’s hugely promising in that respect.
For any skincare or makeup lovers, CBD cosmetics are certainly an exciting and creative option. If you’re keen to elevate your beauty routine, it’s definitely worth giving high-quality and CBD-rich products a go to get that cannabinoid glow!