I'm sure you've noticed by now that CBD has emerged as a popular trend in the skincare market, among many others. It seems that every corner we turn, CBD has been added to our favorite items from popular cocktails to oral supplements and even many skincare products. With all of this publicity focused on one ingredient, it may have you wondering whether it's worth adding to your skincare routine. Since CBD is still a relatively controversial ingredient, we are here to lay all the facts out on the table with the goal of shedding a little light on this hot topic and addressing any questions or concerns you may have about CBD and its effects on skin.
CBD is only one of over 100 cannabinoids which can be extracted from both cannabis and its cousin: hemp. Since the acronyms are so commonly used together, you may be wondering if CBD is the same as THC, and the answer is no. Although THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are both types of cannabinoids, it's important to note that THC is the compound that's responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, while CBD is non-psychoactive (meaning... it won't get you high). Since the two can be separated, it is possible to use CBD products that do not contain THC and therefore have no potential of abuse or dependence (1,2), which is good news for those of us that want the benefits of cannabinoids without getting a little too distracted for the day.
We should also discuss the legality of using any product that is derived from the highly regulated plant, cannabis. While the legality of CBD is not completely understood, through the government's actions, they have made it clear that their focus is not to eliminate CBD from the market, but rather to stop marijuana from being illegally distributed. While the federal government still considers CBD and marijuana to be in the same class, each state in the US has enforced laws of varying restriction on CBD and the government generally does not enforce against the use of CBD. As a consumer it's very important to know, however, that since CBD is considered a supplement rather than a medication, it is NOT regulated by the FDA (2). Without the FDA vetting these products, you must take extra caution when using CBD since the product you choose may contain impure CBD or harmful ingredients.
Note: For more information about the restrictions that apply to your state, check out this link from the National Conference of State Legislatures that maps out the exact regulations in each state (2,3).
With the logistics of this ingredient out of the way, we can finally get into the many beneficial aspects of CBD and how it can help augment your skincare routine, since after all, that's what we're here for! A few studies have shown that when CBD is applied topically, it can act as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, helping with conditions that have inflammation-based symptoms, such as psoriasis, eczema, acne vulgaris, and scarring (4,5). It can also be beneficial for hair, since it is rich in Vitamins A, C, and E, all of which help with collagen production, blocking free radicals, and stimulating cell growth (6). It's also rich in amino acids and fatty acids, which can enhance the growth of nails and hair (6). As far as CBD's part in rejuvenation, its antioxidant properties counteract free-radical damage which can help diminish wrinkles and improve skin tone, especially if you live in a highly polluted area (shoutout to my city folks) (7).
As always, we also want to make our readers aware of any negative effects that ingredients may pose on your skin, and this "magical" ingredient is no exception. We want to note that while more and more studies are exposing CBD's positive effects on skin, it is still important to heir on the side of caution when using products containing CBD, because as we mentioned before, CBD products are not regulated by the FDA. Additionally, not all claims regarding CBD have been proven or subject to sufficient clinical trials, therefore we must allow time for the scientific community to substantiate or refute many of the effects of CBD. To weed out the products that have the most potential to be truly safe and effective, you should look for products that contain a clear label, claiming 95% or more CBD purity, and avoid those that claim "full spectrum" (since those may contain THC) (8). Also, keep in mind that although this may be a bummer for those of us living on a budget, price is often a safe proxy to purity, so watch out for cheap products (under $40) claiming very high purity (8). The right concentration of any given ingredient is fundamental to promote desired effects, and many brands are just adding CBD without understanding the actual amount that is being absorbed by the skin. After all, the skin is a natural barrier that prevents large molecules to cross, so delivering treatments to our skin may be tricky sometimes.
And, as always, be sure to consult your doctor before introducing CBD into your skincare routine and otherwise.
OneSkin is currently testing this ingredient to verify if it is just more hype or if CBD may have true potential. We will be back with our conclusions soon, so stay tuned for this and more information on all things skincare and rejuvenation!