- Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most researched active compounds, known as cannabinoids, in the cannabis plant family.
- CBD, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and a relaxant when taken orally, is a powerful antioxidant capable of correcting damage caused by free radicals.
- The demand for beauty and skin care products containing CBD is increasing as the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids become better understood.
Although clinical research on the benefits and effects of CBD oil in skin care is still new, users of CBD-based products have reported diverse benefits in the treatment of psoriasis, acne, and other common skin concerns.
Here we explore the science behind CBD’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the growing popularity of hemp-derived skin care products.
Where is CBD found?
Most CBD is sourced from hemp, a member of the cannabis family and one of the world’s oldest domesticated crops.
Its diverse uses have been documented in the annals of history. The Chinese first used cannabis for medicinal purposes around 2,000 BC. It was also cultivated by the ancient Indians, Egyptians, and Greeks, who used hemp-based products to care for the skin and body.
Today, the hemp plant is enjoying a renaissance. Its cultivation was banned in the United States in 1970, when it was classified as being in the same category as cannabis.
In 2017, the U.S. government signed a farm bill provision that allows colleges, universities, and state agriculture agencies to cultivate and do research on hemp in states that have already enacted pro-hemp legislation.
Note that CBD oil is different from hemp seed oil or hemp oil, which are derived from hemp seeds and contain no CBD. CBD oil is derived from the resin of the hemp plant.
Can CBD oil get you high?
Hemp contains high levels of CBD and extremely low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound found in cannabis.
THC alters a person’s brain chemistry, evoking the feeling of “getting high.” For this reason, most products that contain CBD oil are sourced from hemp plants, not cannabis.
The benefits of CBD for skin
Hemp is highly versatile and sustainable to grow. Although research into its uses and applications in dermatology is still in the early stages, high-quality beauty and skincare products containing CBD oil from hemp are proliferating and users are singing their praises.
CBD oil contains high levels of omega-3 and omega-6, which are essential fatty acids used in the body. Fatty acids are vital to maintain healthy skin — they keep the cell membrane flexible and lock in moisture. Researchers are also looking into the potential of CBD to treat skin disorders.
“The most promising results of the use of cannabinoids in dermatology is for patients who suffer from pruritus, also known as itch,” explains Dr. Will Richardson, a dermatologist at Natura Dermatology in Fort Lauderdale.
In one study, patients who applied a product containing CBD oil noted that their itching decreased by up to 86.4%.
Cannabinoid products can also have a positive effect on the following skin conditions:
Acne occurs when the skin overproduces an oily matter called sebum. Recent studies have revealed that the sebaceous glands in skin and hair have endocannabinoid receptors. A test tube study in which CBD oil was used on cells derived from human sebaceous glands showed that cannabidiol inhibited and helped regulate lipid production.
Another study showed that CBD can improve the appearance of acne because its anti-inflammatory effects help to soothe and reduce the redness of inflamed skin around pimples.
Eczema is commonly characterized by overly dry skin, caused by excessive water loss and persistent inflammation.
Products containing CBD can help correct the imbalance that causes the condition. What’s more, the high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids present in hemp oil can soothe the symptoms of eczema, relieving itching and inflammation.
Many patients are experimenting with CBD to help manage psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune condition that accelerates the life cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis causes a rough, scaly build up of dead cells on the surface of the skin that can be both itchy and painful.
Traditionally, psoriasis has been treated with topical steroids which can be expensive and might only provide temporary alleviation. Moreover, topical steroid creams can thin the skin over time with prolonged use.
Patients who have tried CBD have reported that they have experienced relief from the chronic pain and inflammation caused by the condition, and even noticed an improvement in the appearance of their skin.
There is evidence that CBD and other cannabinoids can help inhibit the proliferation of keratinocytes, slowing down the skin cell life cycle process. In addition, CBD has fewer known side effects than steroids and is well tolerated.
The skin shows signs of age as a result of oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals, protecting the skin from the inside out.
Common antioxidants include vitamin C and vitamin E, but some researchers are now adding CBD to the list. Studies also suggest that it may hold therapeutic potential for a number of inflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders.
Choosing the right products
CBD-oil-based beauty products are exploding onto the market as the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids become better understood and the drive for more natural, sustainable skin care increases.
However, be aware that not all CBD oil is created equal. Ideally, seek out CBD-oil products that are made using the whole plant extraction method. This means that a full spectrum of the plant’s chemical and botanical compounds, such as terpenes and phytocannabinoids, are included in the oil.
Interactions between these compounds can be beneficial. Furthermore, products that contain higher concentrations of CBD oil are more likely to impart the unique characteristics and benefits of cannabidiol.
You’re likely to find products with higher concentrations in states where the recreational use of marijuana is legal, according to holistic Californian dermatologist Dr. Jeanette Jacknin. If in doubt, check the ingredient list, which should provide the percentages of active compounds in the product.
CBD oil-based products that have gained a cult following include:
- Lord Jones CBD Body Lotion, which claims to soothe aches and pains and address skin conditions.
- Papa and Barkley Releaf Body Balm, which claims to provide relief for skin irritation and discomfort.
- From Ever Since Contour Serum, which claims to ward off fine lines and tighten skin.
The final word on CBD for skin care
CBD oil is the new poster-child for natural skincare. However, the industry is still very new and is not yet regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
As scientific research into the therapeutic applications of CBD oil proceeds, it is possible that even more benefits for skin and well-being will be revealed.
» Discuss the use of CBD and other natural skin care products with cosmetic doctors on Zwivel’s forum.
- Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Acne? (2010) beyondthc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/CBD-for-Acne.pdf
- Cannabidiol Exerts Sebostatic and Antiinflammatory Effects on Human Sebocytes (2014) ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25061872
- Scientific American: Is Marijuana’s “Entourage Effect” Scientifically Valid? (2017) scientificamerican.com/article/some-of-the-parts-is-marijuana-rsquo-s-ldquo-entourage-effect-rdquo-scientifically-valid
- The Role of Cannabinoids in Dermatology (2017) jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(17)30308-0/pdf