Chances are, if I sat down next to you at the salon and tried to sell you on the skin care benefits of CBD five years ago, you’d think I was crazy.
After explaining to you that CBD is a derivative of cannabis, you’d probably get even more confused.
The classic (and antiquated) stereotype of stoners generally involves long hair, slow speech, and unsightly acne—so how could something derived from the same plant as marijuana be good for our skin and beneficial to our beauty routines?
Well, that’s what I’m here to explain to you, and it starts with something we all have within our bodies called the endocannabinoid system.
What can CBD do for me?
If you’ve ever suffered from acne, dry skin, sunburn, psoriasis, or eczema, there’s a good chance you may find some success in CBD oil—here’s why.
A study published in 2014 found that CBD can regulate the oil production in our sebaceous glands (otherwise known as the glands that can make your face and hair oily). This effect, along with CBD’s natural anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative properties, can make CBD oil an effective treatment for those of us who struggle with breakouts.
And, unlike what you may currently be using to cut down on oil production (such as a retinoid), CBD won’t make your skin worse before it gets better or leave you with dry and flaky skin.
If you’re currently dealing with dry and flaky skin (even if you don’t have acne), CBD oil can also be a great remedy for that.
A 2017 study demonstrated CBD oil’s positive effects on skin conditions, particularly ones that leave you itchy and dry such as psoriasis and eczema.
[Read more about the benefits of CBD.]
Naturally, even if you don’t have a diagnosed skin condition, your skin can surely benefit from some added CBD-infused moisture—especially if you live (or are visiting) somewhere with a drier climate.
Plus, if you’re reeling from a bad sunburn during these scorching summer months, you can find relief in the form of moisture and pain relief in CBD.
While there are many other alleged benefits of CBD skin care (many tout its anti-aging properties), there is still a lot of work to be done in studying the long-term benefits of topical CBD, so it’s hard to say what’s fact vs. what’s a marketing ploy or simply a placebo effect. That’s why we’ve chosen to only highlight benefits that have been proven by scientific studies.
Not to mention that, instead of utilizing CBD for its nutrients and benefits, some brands may simply be using CBD as a vegan (and trendy) alternative to beeswax, which is commonly used in many beauty products.
One of those brands is Milk Makeup, who currently sells a “Kush Mascara” and is allegedly planning to launch more CBD products soon.
On their website, Milk claims that the hemp-derived cannabis oil gives their formula a “creamy texture” and allows for an “easier, tug-free removal” and conditioning benefit.
Of course, it’s hard to know how true these claims are and if those benefits are really an effect of the CBD or simply their mascara formula as a whole.
“I see a big trend of adding CBD to cosmetics—like CBD in mascara or CBD in hair products—but I don’t understand the necessity of these types of products,” says Kerrigan Behrens, Cofounder and CMO of Sagely Naturals. “CBD is an amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, but that doesn’t mean that you need it on your eyelashes!”
How to be a savvy CBD shopper
Unfortunately, CBD’s rising star power as a trend in the beauty world means that more and more brands are trying to hop on the trend and make a quick buck—and hope that unassuming consumers will see the “CBD” on the label and not think twice about the validity.
Because of the fuzzy legality issues surrounding CBD in the US, states don’t currently regulate what products can be labeled as CBD.
[7 Things to look for when buying CBD.]
That being said, this lack of regulation isn’t really new to the beauty world or specific to CBD beauty. Even when shopping for non-CBD beauty products, you should absolutely be checking the labels of products to check for anything fishy—it is going on your face, after all.
What to look for when shopping for CBD products
Here’s a rundown of things to look for to gauge the legitimacy of a CBD beauty brand or product:
1. Look for third party lab sheets
“With CBD being a semi-new industry, the only way to ensure CBD is legit is through [a company’s] third party lab sheets,” says Mike Melton, owner of Pure Relief. “Most beauty brands will be using CBD from another source, infused with their products, so make sure you find out the sourcing.”
Because of this, you may want to buy CBD skin care from brands that also sell non-skin care CBD items, because it shows that they are likely deriving the CBD themselves.
Unfortunately, the brands that you may be more familiar with (such as Milk Makeup) are more likely to be outsourcing their CBD production, which means they have little control over how it’s derived and what they’re really getting.
2. Look for the words “full spectrum” or “whole plant”
If a product lists “full-spectrum” or “whole plant” on their label, it means that they’ve used the entire Cannabis plant in the production rather than isolating one element (and no, that still doesn’t mean it’ll get you high).
Just like how some vegetables lose their nutrients when cooked a certain way, CBD can lose its potency when it’s not extracted with the molecules from the whole plant.
“In 2015, researchers discovered what is now commonly known as the ‘entourage’ effect,” explains Behrens. “What this means is that CBD is much more effective when it gets extracted alongside the full range of primary and secondary therapeutic constituents of the hemp plant.”
Behrens explained to me that some of these constituents can include cannabinoids such as CBN, CBL, CBCVA, and aromatic cannabis terpenes like pinene and limonene.
Basically, if you’re going to be using a CBD product, you might as well ensure the CBD effects are as strong as they can be, which will be the case if the product is full-spectrum.
3. Do your brand research (and check reviews)
Just like you would with any other beauty product, checking reviews is important when it comes to CBD beauty.
In fact, it may even more pertinent since you may be buying from brands you’ve never heard of before.
Like I mentioned above, the longer a brand has been in the CBD game and the more CBD products they offer, the more likely they are to have a good handle on their CBD supply. They’re also way more likely to have third party lab sheets available for you to checkout.
Of course, to give you a head start, we’ve given some recommendations for fan-favorite CBD beauty brands at the end of this article.
What to avoid when shopping for CBD products
If you can’t seem to spot “full spectrum” on the label or find out where a brand’s CBD is derived from, you at least want to steer clear of the warning signs. You shouldn’t buy a product with any of the following red flags. At best, you’ll probably overspend on a product that doesn’t actually contain any CBD or promised benefits, at worst, your skin will react poorly to the fillers and chemicals used in the product rather than natural CBD.
1. “Isolate” may indicate that the product is overpriced
Some manufacturers derive their CBD using the isolate method, which was formerly acknowledged as the most potent technique for deriving CBD.
“This involves cooling the extracted oil until it forms crystals,” explains Behrens. “The crystals are then processed into a powder, and the powder or ‘isolate’ results in a single molecular compound of strictly CBD.”
While isolate-derived CBD was originally thought to pack more of a punch in a tighter product, it may not be as easily absorbed by your skin (or your eyelashes, or your hair) as full-spectrum CBD. What’s more, a study done at the Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology found that isolate CBD becomes increasingly ineffective over time, whereas full-spectrum CBD maintains its effectiveness over time.
“Be aware that the cheaper forms of CBD on the market are likely using isolates and packing in CBD that’s not real, giving the appearance that you’re getting more for your money when you’re actually not,” says Behrens.
2. Don’t hunt for bargains
While it’s hard to give a range for just how much you can expect to pay for CBD products since the market is still so new, one thing’s for sure: if something seems like a steal, it’s probably too good to be true.
“If a brand is selling hundreds of milligrams of CBD for a low cost, it almost certainly means that they’re using isolate, rather than whole plant, full spectrum hemp oil,” says Behrens. “You get what you pay for!”
Brands (And products) we love
If you’re the kind of girl who has your favorite beauty brands (and loyalty cards for each), navigating the world of CBD beauty might seem overwhelming at first. How are you supposed to know which brands are established or legit? Especially when many of them don’t sell their products in national beauty chains such as Sephora or Ulta?
But if you’re not ready to play CBD-inspector gadget just yet, we’ve got some CBD products for you to start with.
If you want to add CBD to your nighttime skin care routine