The Beauty Industry and CBD: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why

Do beauty products deliver you to your happy place of self-love and self-care? If the health of your skin is a priority, you’ve probably noticed an impressive rise in beauty products loudly advertising their infusion of CBD. You may have even tried a product or two that may or may have not delivered on its claims of miraculous acne-busting, anti-aging benefits. 

CBD Beauty Craze: Here to Stay or Just a Trend?

When it comes to the beauty industry and CBD, the last couple of years of product development can make it seem like every brand must have a CBD something. Who cares if the CBD actually does anything or if the product even has actual CBD to begin with? (We’ll get to that!)

With household brands like Josie Maran, Kiehl’s, Peter Thomas Roth, Saint Jane and niche brands (the kind that aren’t “big”, but big enough to be carried by Sephora) like Farmacy, Prima, and Herbivore all jumping on the CBD-infused bandwagon, it’s easy to start seeing CBD-infused beauty products as the new “anti-aging cleansers” (how many dermatologists have to explain that cleansers aren’t on your face long enough to actually do anything remotely anti-aging before we see the light?)

Why Your CBD Beauty Products Don't Work

What to Ask When Buying CBD Beauty Products
  1. Is it really CBD?
  2. The Importance of a CBD Brand's CoA
  3. Hempseed Oil vs. CBD Oil
  4. Costs of PCR Hemp vs. Industrial Hemp
CBD and Other Skincare Ingredients

The Endocannabinoid System and Your Skin
  1. Potential Benefits of CBD for Skincare
  2. CBD for Acne & Anti-Aging

CBD Beauty Products: If They Don’t Work, There’s a Reason Why

CBD-infused products for skin-care can be a lie. But they don’t have to be. If you’ve tried a CBD-infused beauty product that hasn’t worked, it’s probably because most beauty brands (especially the big ones) don’t know the first thing about CBD (or how to infuse it or support it in skincare formulations). 

The beauty industry has always been hard to navigate, existing in a space that is half brands that get the science right and half brands that sell faux science with pretty packaging that’s fashionably Instagram-worthy. 

So beware: yes, CBD beauty products can be a lie

  • Yes, beauty brands CAN and HAVE developed CBD products for their value as online clickbait and marketing buzz on packaging, versus developing CBD products out of a genuine interest in CBD’s benefits for maintaining skin health.
  • YES, some brands even call their products CBD-infused, claiming ingredients as “CBD” when they are NOT, in fact, CBD (we’re looking at you, “hempseed oil”).

If you’ve had the bad luck of trying a CBD-infused beauty product that hasn’t worked, don’t write CBD off just yet. It’s hard to buy the right CBD beauty product when it’s so easy for beauty brands to get away with all the misinformation. Why DO beauty brands get away with such shady claims? Because few beauty product consumers know enough about CBD to ask the right questions.

These Are the Questions You Should Be Asking About That CBD-Infused Beauty Product

Welcome to the CBD industry, the place where staying informed falls on you and a brand’s good intentions mean little without constant innovation, research, and lots of money (because good CBD oil, and good CBD-infused products, take a lot of money at every stage of production). 

The positive is that just like with the beauty industry, the resources for education are out there. Information is power. Once you are empowered by information, you’ll start seeing the red flags from miles away. 

Is it really CBD?

The first question you should be asking, although seemingly obvious, is the one most often overlooked.

Does your beauty product contain actual cannabidiol (CBD)?

The product label can be misleading. Always read the ingredients. If the ingredients say “hempseed oil”, run because hempseed oil is NOT CBD. Hempseed oil will often be listed as hemp oil, hempseed oil, or Cannabis sativa seed oil. To a non-CBD industry insider, this can be really misleading. 

Whether the mix-up is intentional or not, CBD-infused products that actually have CBD will

  • list it as cannabidiol, full-spectrum hemp, hemp-derived CBD oil, PCR (phytocannabinoid-rich) or PCR hemp extract.

The authentic CBD-infused product will also clearly state the dosage of CBD in milligrams. You’ll know a product’s really legitimate when you either

  • see a QR code or
  • can easily find something called a CoA (Certificate of Analysis) on the brand’s website for the product in question. 

The Importance of a CBD-Infused Beauty Product’s Certificate of Analysis (CoA)

While it’s not required by the CBD industry, any brand invested in their CBD products in the long-term will know that there are fake, ineffective CBD products aplenty and that they have to back up their claims as a company by 3rd-party lab testing all of their products

This, effectively, is what a CoA is — a lab report from a third party that shows you everything in the CBD product, from pesticides, trace metals, to the amount of actual CBD and the presence of other hemp-derived plant parts called cannabinoids (CBG, in particular, shines for its skin-care benefits) and terpenes (aroma chemicals, the things that give essential oils all their aromatherapy benefits). 

Hempseed Oil vs. CBD Oil

Both CBD brands and beauty brands can use the word “hemp oil” and mean either hemp-derived CBD oil or hempseed oil. But what’s the big fuss about the difference between the two and why should you care?

Don’t get us wrong, hempseed oil has a lot of benefits for skin, too. But it costs a lot less to farm, extract, and produce hempseed oil than it does to farm, extract, and produce CBD oil.

Hempseed Oil Benefits vs. CBD Oil Benefits

The benefits of hempseed oil don’t equal the benefits of CBD oil because hempseed oil is, essentially, CBD oil that’s been watered down and stripped of 95% of its nutrients. The remaining 5% can do a lot for you, sure, but to compare hempseed oil to CBD oil is like comparing table salt to Epsom salt or Splenda to raw cane sugar (and trying to claim that they’re the same thing).

CBD oil comes from PCR (or phytocannabinoid-rich) hemp. This plant looks and smells like the cannabis that gets you high because it is, it's just cannabis minus the one ingredient (THC) that actually gets you high. And if CBD oil does have THC, it can’t have more 0.3% of it, the legal limit set by the 2018 Farm Bill.

The Costs of PCR Hemp vs. Industrial Hemp

PCR hemp is expensive to grow for several reasons. First, it’s a headache to farm and needs constant attention, especially if a farmer wants PCR rich hemp that doesn’t have more than that legal limit of 0.3% THC.

  • It’s the female part of the Cannabis plant that is rich in terpenes and cannabinoids, not the male.
  • Once the female part becomes pollinated by the male part, all terpene and cannabinoid production stops and the plant’s focus shifts to seed production. Obviously, this isn’t conducive to hemp that becomes CBD oil.

The trouble comes from the fact that making THC is the female part’s stress response and it’s easier than you think to trigger that stress response. Not enough light, too much water, any number of small changes in the environment can put a farmer’s PCR hemp over that 0.3% THC limit. 

  • The possibility of having even a single hemp plant test over this legal limit is terrifying for the farmer because it puts the farmer’s whole livelihood (at least in some states).
  • When one plant on your field has more than 0.3% THC, that one plants brands your whole hemp crop as recreational cannabis.
  • And, if recreational cannabis is illegal in your given state, there goes your entire crop (seriously, there are horror stories of hemp farmers having their fields burned down). 

We won’t even start on the astronomical costs of extracting CBD, the intensity of the equipment needed for the actual extraction process, or the fees for the scientists and experts who do the extraction in the lab.

Hempseed oil, unlike CBD oil, comes from the male part of the hemp plant.

This kind of hemp doesn’t have much of a smell (the first sign of its lack of terpenes and cannabinoids) and is easy to grow. This is also the kind of hemp plant that’s used for things like rope. It’s desirable for its strong and sturdy nature and ideal as a plant fiber for textile and fabrics. 

CBD Skincare Law #1: Other Ingredients are Vital

You say:

Okay, okay. I checked and my beauty product has actual CBD. Now what?

Now, check the other ingredients! CBD on its own, especially CBD that is full spectrum (or extracted from the whole hemp plant, retaining trace levels of THC and all the beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids), can really improve your skin’s health and may help fight underlying conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. 

But CBD in combination with other powerhouse botanicals (like chamomile, rosemary, rose extract, green tea/matcha, grape seed polyphenols, aloe vera, cucumber extract, papaya extract) and skincare ingredients (like retinol, collagen, silicone, hyaluronic acid, titanium oxide) is guaranteed to do the job better than CBD alone.

What are the benefits of having CBD in my beauty products?

Since the legalization of CBD-rich hemp in the US dates back to the very recent year of 2018, research on CBD benefits for beauty and skin health is relatively new and always ongoing. The few studies we do have, however, are very promising!

  • We now know that a lot of skin conditions are caused in large part by excess inflammation.
  • Your body’s inflammatory response greatly contributes to acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
  • Allergic inflammation, in particular, is believed to be a leading cause of eczema.
  • One of the major benefits of CBD for both whole-body health and skin health maintenance is that there’s a lot of research (and tons of anecdotal evidence) to support CBD use for powerful anti-inflammatory relief.
  • CBD has a bunch of beneficial terpenes (like limonene, found in citrus fruits) and flavonoids (like apigenin, found in chamomile).

    The Endocannabinoid System and Your Skin

    All of us have something called the Endocannabinoid System (the ECS). In short, the ECS is responsible for maintaining balance in our bodies. The ECS has a lot to do with skin and nerve function and we have lots of receptors that activate the ECS’s balancing responses throughout our skin.

    Our bodies make their own endocannabinoids and these help us keep everything running smoothly, including the maintenance and glow of healthy skin. When we’re stressed, our ECS prioritizes survival over maintaining internal balance. As a result, we produce less endocannabinoids.

    • Research is now finding that on top of life’s daily stresses, some of us may suffer from an endocannabinoid deficiency.
    • Whether you have a deficiency, are stressed out, or just want some plant help to stay zen always, CBD may seriously help.

    CBD is a phyto (from a plant) cannabinoid that acts like a vitamin or supplement for your ECS. Research shows that CBD has great potential for boosting your ECS as a cannabinoid supplement. 

    As a supplement for your ECS, CBD may help you keep stress levels down, excess inflammation at bay, and the body’s and brain’s internal functions running smoothly.

    • Think of taking CBD for your ECS in the same way you think of taking iron or eating iron-rich foods (like organ meat and soybeans) for anemia.
    • When your ECS is at its best, you’ll feel less stressed and your skin will love you for it. Beauty, after all, starts with emotional health and a body that feels as good as it looks. 

    CBD for Acne and Anti-Aging

    Exciting research shows the CBD may decrease rapid skin cell multiplication and lower excess sebum (oil) production. This, combined with CBD’s benefits for inflammation, positions CBD as having great potential for fighting acne and keeping acne-prone skin clear.

    CBD and PCR hemp is also chock full of antioxidants.

    • Antioxidants, as most of us know, can offer crucial support for our skin’s daily fight against pollution, the stresses of modern life, and damage from the sun.
    • By incorporating tested and verified CBD in your beauty products, you may help your skin keep aging in check by giving it the nutrients it needs. 

    Plus, hemp plants that produce CBD oil contain two fatty acids that you want to know about: Omega 6 and Omega 3.

    • These fatty acids boost your body’s natural collagen production.
    • We start to produce less collagen as we age, of course, but can also produce less collagen in response to pollution, stress, and sun damage.

    By boosting your body’s collagen production and reducing inflammation, CBD-infused beauty products may help prevent excessive water loss, keep your skin hydrated, diminish wrinkles, and give your skin’s support system the foundation it needs to prevent future aging.

    PS. Discover our curated selection of hemp-derived CBD-infused beauty products! 

    Disclaimer: This blog post and any recommendations made within this blog post have not been approved by the FDA. This blog post should not be regarded as making any medical claims, offering any medical advice, or as offering criteria for diagnosis. You should always consult a dermatologist before incorporating CBD use for serious skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and chronic acne. You should never replace the medication prescribed by a dermatologist without consulting them first. CBD research is ongoing and any strong statements made within this blog post should be regarded as the opinion of the writer.

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