During recent years, CBD has made its way into many facets of society. It is now in pharmacies and natural health shops, in supermarkets, sports shops, and even beauty stores. In 2018 and 2019, we’ve seen a wave of new products containing CBD: skin serums, anti-aging creams, face washes and body lotions. But are these products simply riding the wave of the CBD craze? Or do they have proven benefits for skincare? We look at the claims made by this new range of products, and at what the research says.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid compound derived from the cannabis plant. CBD, or cannabidiol, belongs to a class of compounds known as phytocannabinoids which have a range of effects on the human body. In particular, CBD is known for:
- Preventing seizures
- Fighting depression
- Lowering anxiety
- Treating joint pain and arthritis
- Relieving symptoms of Crohn’s disease
But how is this powerful medicinal compound be useful in skincare too?
The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD
A lot of the benefits of CBD derive from its anti-inflammatory properties. CBD is useful in treating a number of inflammatory conditions, including arthritis and Crohn’s disease. In the treatment of arthritis, CBD can actually be used topically, applied onto painful joints in the form of a cream, penetrating the skin to offer relief. Unsurprisingly, it can also be used to cure inflammatory skin conditions like acne or eczema.
The anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD derive from its action on the endocannabinoid system. CBD has the power to interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which affect how our bodies manage pain and inflammation, as well as things like mood and appetite.
Not only is CBD highly anti-inflammatory, it also contains a range of vitamins like vitamins A, D and E and fatty acids. These are commonly used in skincare products because they help hydrate the skin, making it look healthier and more plump.
Aside from aesthetic benefits, CBD could also be helpful for a number of skin conditions, including acne and eczema. Here are just a few of the possible uses of CBD for your skin.
CBD for dry or dehydrated skin
CBD should not be confused with hemp oil. Hemp oil is an oil extracted from hemp seeds, but in which cannabinoid compounds have not been activated. CBD, on the other hand, is a form of hemp oil with active cannabinoid compounds. When it comes to treating dry skin, however, it doesn’t really matter which one you use.
CBD products for dry skin contain high levels of vitamin E. CBD is full of vitamin E, which has very powerful hydrating properties for the skin. But what these products fail to mention is that the level of vitamin E is due to the hemp carrier oil, rather than the cannabinoid compounds of CBD.
The fatty acids you’ll find in CBD can just as well be found in hemp, and have the same effects. They penetrate the skin to restore its moisture barrier and form a protective film on its surface that protects moisture from escaping the skin.
Should you use CBD if all you’re looking for is a good moisturizer? There’s no harm in doing that… except you’ll be wasting a bit of money. CBD products tend to be more expensive than hemp-based products of the same type, and when it comes to dry skin, both will help with your condition.
CBD for redness
CBD is much more beneficial for skin conditions that require more than some solid hydration. For example, CBD can be very effective in combating redness.
Redness has many different causes, but it is essentially a sign of inflammation. When skin becomes red, it is reacting to something. It may be to allergens, to something in the air, to a bacteria, or something else. Simply put, some people get red more easily because their skin is more reactive and becomes inflamed more easily.
This is where CBD comes in. With well-studied anti-inflammatory properties, CBD can fight inflammation when taken orally or applied onto the skin. When it enters the body, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which among other things is responsible for regulating inflammation. As a result, CBD can be effective for many if not all inflammatory conditions.
But does that mean you should rush to buy a CBD face cream if you frequently suffer from redness? CBD will help with inflammatory skin conditions in most people, but applying it as a cream may not be the best way to go about it. CBD may be able to penetrate the body more rapidly when taken sublingually, or as a spray. If you find a topical CBD products that you love, by all means go for it. If not, then taking CBD in other forms may be just as effective in combating redness.
CBD for aging skin
CBD for anti-aging works a bit like CBD for dry skin—it works well, but not any better than regular hemp oil. Claims about the benefits of CBD for aging skin often focus on its high content of vitamin E and essential fatty acids. While those claims are justified, hemp oil does just as good of a job, sometimes for a fraction of the price.
Suffering from inflammation alongside signs of age like wrinkles or dullness is very common. In that case, CBD could be very effective when applied topically. But if all you need are good skincare products that take care of keeping your skin hydrated, you’ll probably find products that are more useful, and less expensive, than those with CBD.
CBD for psoriasis
One of the conditions CBD is the most effective in treating is psoriasis. People with psoriasis have skin cells that reproduce at a much faster rate, causing them to develop extra patches of skin. These are often itchy and painful, making it a particularly difficult condition to live with.
Research on the benefits of CBD for psoriasis is still in its infancy, but the few studies that do exist show very positive results. CBD can help with psoriasis in a number of ways:
- Reducing cell proliferation
- Calming down inflammation
- Soothing pain and irritation
All of these benefits work together to help relieve the painful symptoms of psoriasis. And given how limited and inadequate psoriasis treatment currently is, CBD offers a very promising alternative.
CBD for eczema
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD also make it useful in alleviating the symptoms of eczema. The use of cannabis to treat eczema actually dates back to the 19th century, when cannabis was sometimes prescribed to help soothe the skin. Despite that, there is still insufficient research today on the best way to use cannabis and CBD for eczema.
Eczema is a skin condition characterized by itchy, red patches of skin that are uncomfortable, dry, and often painful. People who are prone to eczema will usually experience flareups during particularly stressful conditions or weather changes, but flares can also happen without any apparent reason.
Nowadays, eczema is often treated using steroid creams, which are very effective at managing symptoms or flare-ups. However, they are not suitable for long-term use and are often not advised for facial use.
In the case of eczema, CBD words in a few different ways:
- it lowers inflammation
- it provides relief from pain and irritation
- it stalls the growth of bacteria on the skin
With more research, CBD could become one of the best and safest ways to treat people with eczema. In the meantime, eczema sufferers are left to experiment with dosage and products by themselves.
CBD for acne scars
One of the best ways to use CBD for acne scars is on so-called “problem skin” characterized by excessive oiliness and acne breakouts. Although it is known for being a good moisturizer with the ability to restore the skin’s moisture barrier, CBD can also have the opposite effect! In people who produce excess sebum, a common cause of acne, CBD was found to adjust sebum production back to a normal level.
But that’s not all. CBD also lowers inflammation, which is at play in inflammatory types of acne. It may also help to halt bacterial growth, resulting in fewer breakouts.
Acne is caused by a combination of several factors:
- Excessive sebum production
- Dead skin cells blocking up pores
- Bacterial growth
By helping with three out of these four factors, CBD has the potential to be an effective acne remedy. More clinical research on the topic is needed, but the findings so far are promising.
Choosing the right products
With CBD topical products, as with oral products, quality is key. The recent trend in CBD products has led to an increase in the number of false claims made by companies manufacturing CBD products. Some will claim to contain more CBD than they do.
To find good CBD topical products, we recommend looking at reputable companies that specialize in CBD rather than regular skincare brands. Moreover, make sure to check that the company from which you’re buying can show a certificate of analysis, guaranteeing the quality of the CBD they use. Make sure to stay away from any company that refuses to show this certificate.
Can I legally buy CBD?
CBD is legal on a federal level in the United States, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. However, it is still prohibited by certain state laws and doesn’t have FDA approval. We encourage you to consult a physician before you start taking CBD.
Is CBD the next big trend in skincare? It could well be. But while CBD has an impressive record when it comes to relieving skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, it may not be that helpful to skin that is already healthy. Unless you are suffering from irritation or inflammation, CBD provides the same benefits as the hemp oil from which it is made. Do your research, and don’t let the hype fool you—just because CBD is useful in treating different conditions doesn’t mean that it will make your skin radiant or stop you from aging.